3 Approaches to Business Valuation

In this second audio blog in a series about business valuations, Micah Vant Hoff, a principal at CK, explores the three primary approaches to business valuation and gives insights into each method.


My name is Micah Vant Hoff. I’m a principal at Craig Kaiser. There’s three broad approaches to business valuation. There’s the market approach, which would be comparable to thinking about the real estate market, where you have quite often value determined based on looking at comparable properties, right? In the same area, trying to get as close to your subject property, your house, for example, as possible, and then deriving the value of your property based on those comparable properties around you. So that would be real estate, but the same is true for business valuation. Under the market approach, you would be looking for comparable property, not properties, but businesses that have sold recently and using the parameters to try to pull in the most comparable ones, and then using various metrics to compare to your business and deriving a value off of that. So that’s approach one is the market approach.

Approach two is the cost approach, which for most businesses, I would say is generally not applicable. The cost approach is looking at what is the value of your assets minus the value of your liabilities, and that’s really the value of your business. Most businesses that we deal with generate income or have some other value to them to where a cost approach would be understating the value of that company, the value of that business, because most businesses generally speaking, if they’re profitable and if they’re in growing industries, their value would be greater than the difference between assets and liabilities.

And then the third approach that’s used is the income approach. This is the one that we use most frequently. We consider all approaches, but the one that we come to most frequently and weigh most heavily is the income approach. That is looking at the expected future cash flows from operations, the expected future income that the business is anticipated to generate, and then capitalizing or discounting those future cash flows into a model, an income-based model that then backs into and derives what the value of the business is under that approach.

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