EBA helps business owners understand the value of a business to support their needs. Whether they want to sell to a third party, partner, key employee, or family member; gift the business to charity; or liquidate, we provide a data-driven analysis of their business value.

Edison Business Advisors offers the following valuation services:
  • Broker's Price Opinions
  • Certified Business Appraisals
  • Equipment Appraisals
How do you determine the value of a business?  A business has the most value to the current owner because they invested the time, energy, sweat, and money to start and/or grow their business. It usually includes a lot of sacrifice of family and leisure time.  The value to the owner is often based on what the owner “needs” to retire or satisfy their debts. Unfortunately, the market does not care what the owner wants or needs.  The harsh reality is the business is only worth what someone will pay for it.  Therefore, we must first understand who the potential purchasers might be and their impact on value.  There are three types of buyers, i.e. financial, strategic, and second-party.

           VIDEO: Understanding the Business Valuation Process

Financial buyers are those looking for a job or a return on their investment (ROI). They rely heavily on “multiples” based on prior similar transactions. They are usually looking for businesses for less than one million dollars and usually require financing from a bank and often with a Small Business Administration (SBA) backed loan. Many banks require the seller to hold a small note to ensure the seller has “skin in the game” to support the new owner for a period of time.


Strategic buyers are those looking to expand their business through an acquisition. It may be to enter new territory, acquire a skilled workforce in place, advance technology, other intellectual property, or simply eliminate the competition. Since the buyer is often able to operate the acquired business more efficiently, they are capable of paying a premium over fair market value.


Second-party buyers usually result in the lowest sale price.  They may be the current management team or a family member. Financing usually includes a much larger seller note and may include an extended payback period. A sale to employees is also available through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP is typically reserved for larger privately-owned businesses due to the setup and administration fees. However, they can be an excellent tool for the owner to extract personal value from the company while offering unique and advantageous tax benefits to the business.

In general, there are three approaches to valuing a business.  They are the Market Approach, Income Approach, and Asset Approach.  Combined these approaches have eight methods for valuing a business, e.g., Direct Market Data Method, Multiple of Discretionary Earnings Method, Excess Earnings Method, etc..  When valuing a business, we may combine any number of these eight methods to estimate value depending upon the seller's particular situation.  This estimate of value is also known as the Most Probable Selling Price (MPSP) (see Valuation Methodology for more information).  


There are many valuation tools to assist in valuing a business, i.e., sold databases and valuation software. Sold databases include BVR Database, BizComps, PeerComps, and BBF MLS.  Valuation software is offered by BizComps, PeerComps, and a number of other sources.  We use these tools to calculate a MPSP.



Market Approach
  • Direct Market Data Method
  • Guideline Public Company
  • Merger & Acquisition

Income Approach
  • Capitalization of Benefits
  • Discounted Future Benefits
  • Multiple of Discretionary
    Earnings (DE) Method

Asset Approach
  • Net Asset Accumulation
  • Excess Earnings Method
  • BVR Database
  • BizComps
  • PeerComps
  • Proprietary Tools

  • Industry
  • Assets
  • Inventory
  • Buyer Perceived
    Defects/Risk Factors

  • Fair Compensation
  • Debt Coverage
  • Return on Investment
Adjustments need to be made to the MPSP based on a number of risk factors that can affect the value of the business. Some of the more important value factors include reliance on the owner or a few key employees,  concentration of sales in one or a small number of customers, age and quality of assets, inventory adjustments, and lack of diversification in product selection or geographic areas served. Other important value factors include the state of the industry, the stage of the business life cycle, and the susceptibility to changes in laws and regulations that affect the business. There are up to fifty-four risk factors to analyze to determine the adjustments.


Finally, we test the adjusted MPSP with two tests.  The first test is to ensure the business will qualify for a loan as per the Small Business Association loan guidelines.  The second test is to ensure the buyer is able to pay themself fair compensation for their time, adequately cover their debt, and provide a strong return on investment (ROI) based on the risk incurred when acquiring a specific business.

Most certified and/or trained business brokers are capable of providing an estimate of business market value.


For valuations requiring a greater level of detail or being used for litigation support, engaging a certified business appraiser is highly recommended. Certified appraisals are required to follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice Standards (USPSP).  To learn more about how a certified business appraisal is conducted, go to our Valuation Methodology page.

If you have questions about the different approaches, methods, and tools of valuation and which ones may be appropriate for you or have questions about a certified business appraisal, please contact us for a complimentary, confidential consultation.