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Common Business Valuation Approaches

Common Business Valuation Approaches

Valuation approaches are methods that business valuation experts use to determine the value of a business. There are various approaches valuation experts use. A good business valuation report will include several. Within each approach, there are different methods a valuation expert can employ. They may use any combination of approaches as long as the results are credible.

Below we will discuss the three most common valuation approaches a business valuation expert utilizes. These include the asset approach, the income approach, and the market approach. Peak Business Valuation is happy to answer any questions you may have. Reach out by scheduling a free consultation.

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Asset Approach

An asset-based approach uses the current value of the company’s net tangible assets. The idea is to determine the fair market value of the assets less liabilities. Under this approach, the valuation analyst adjusts the value of the assets and liabilities (both reported and not reported) of the business from their stated values to the chosen standard of value for the engagement, i.e. fair market value.

This approach is most useful for asset-intensive companies. For example, real estate firms, manufacturing companies, and start-ups with heavy research and development costs. In addition, in situations where the earnings of a business are insufficient and do not provide a reasonable return on assets this approach is useful.


Income Approach

The income approach converts future expected economic benefits – generally cash flow – into a present value. It is best suited for established and profitable businesses. The two most common methods under the income approach include the capitalization of earnings method and the discounted cash flow (DCF) method.

Capitalization of Earnings Method

Using the capitalization of earnings method, the analyst estimates the appropriate measure of economic income for one period (i.e, one period before the valuation date or one period after the valuation date). The analyst then divides this period by an appropriate capitalization rate as discussed below.

The capitalization rate or factor reflects what a reasonable rate of return an investor would expect. It also helps to identify potential risk for the buyer if expected earnings are not met.

This approach is best suitable for businesses that have a long and stable history of operations as the data is more accurate.

Discounted Cash Flow Method

This method considers the intrinsic value of the business. It uses 3-5 years of projections to estimate the value of future cash flows. All future cash flows are then discounted to present value using a discount rate rather than a capitalization rate.

This approach is best suited for businesses that have a good financial history and have built reliable forecasts in the past. Keep in mind, this method has limits because it relies on future cash flow estimates which can be subjective.


Market Approach

The market approach bases the value of the business by using comparable businesses from private or public markets. This approach is the most widely used and understood. Just like when you are shopping for a car or house, you research comparable cars or homes in your local area. The market approach does just this.

This approach uses market multiples also known as valuation multiples. Market multiples are ratios comparing one financial metric (i.e. Share price) to another financial metric (i.e. Earnings per Share). Valuation analysts use multiples as financial measurement tools to compute the value of a company and compare it to similar companies. Using multiples helps adjust company financials for differences in size and volume. Three common valuation multiples used to value small businesses include the revenue multiple, EBITDA multiple, and seller’s discretionary earnings (SDE) multiple.

In situations with limited data, other approaches may be more applicable.


The best business valuation will use a combination of valuation approaches. Doing so helps to determine a more accurate fair market value. Depending on your specific situation, one approach may be more applicable than another. Working with a valuation professional will provide you with the most objective assessment of what your company is worth.

Peak Business Valuation is happy to help small business owners determine the value of their company. Questions are always welcome! Please reach out by scheduling a free consultation.


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