Written by Gene Wright. Posted in Financial Modeling

6 Reasons to Get That Valuation Done

Because though your mind is great at creating stuff, it’s terrible at tracking it. And yet there’s a good chance you’re tracking tons of stuff in your head right now. Stuff that drains your energy and clogs your creativity. Stuff that makes it hard to stay afloat day-to-day, let alone find the time to get the information to us that could create the beginning of the next new chapter in your life! I’ve listed below 6 reasons to put Northstar Advisory at the top of your to do list. It won’t be like going to the dentist, I promise.

  1. Aim for done over perfect. We do not need your 2022 business tax returns to get started.
  • To get started, you only need your income statement and balance sheet for the past three years. This information will provide an excellent starting point to establish a beginning value for your business and begin the discussion.
  •  It’s important to know what your business is worth, regardless of whether you decide to sell it. No business is perfect, and every business can improve. Sometimes the smallest improvements yield the greatest results. We will help you pinpoint all of them.
  • Buyers pay for the past, consider the present, but will buy for the future. Past financials will help determine the purchase price, but they do NOT guarantee what the business will look like in the future. We help you evaluate your business for what it can expect to provide a future buyer. We can help you identify the hidden value in your business.
  • Identify your business “uniqueness”- You MUST be able to explain it in simple terms to potential buyers and with great enthusiasm. We help coach you through the selling process.
  • We can’t do a darn thing to help you until we get your information. Our valuation services are complementary to our clients planning to exit within the next twelve or twenty-four months.

Valuing a Business Using Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE)

Written by Gene Wright. Posted in Financial Modeling

How Small Businesses Are Valued Based on Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE)

Public companies and middle market businesses are valued as a multiple of EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization.  However, smaller businesses are valued as a multiple of Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE), which can be defined as EBITDA + Owner’s Compensation.  Therefore, SDE is typically the net income (or net loss) on the company tax return + interest expense + depreciation expense + amortization expense + the current owner’s salary + owner perks.

Because it is the foundation of business valuation for small businesses, SDE is an important concept to understand.   SDE is typically the net income (or net loss) on the company tax return + interest expense + depreciation expense + amortization expense + the current owner’s salary + owner perks. 

Seller’s Discretionary Earnings Normalization

To arrive at SDE, the seller’s financial statements are “normalized” (alternate terminology includes: “recast” or “stabilized”).  The typical “SDE Normalization” presents the seller’s regular income statement and then shows each normalizing adjustment (with an explanation) to arrive at the normalized SDE.

Seller’s Discretionary Earnings adjustments resulting from personal and/or discretionary expenditures

In addition to the adjustments of EBITDA + Owner’s Salary, other adjustments may be necessary.  For instance, it’s no surprise that many small business owners run a lot of personal expenses through the business that have nothing to with operating the business.  If properly documented, those personal and/or discretionary expenditures may be added back to SDE.

Other types of Seller’s Discretionary Earnings adjustments

  • Many small business owners personally own the real estate the business occupies.  If the business is overpaying or underpaying facility rent, the amount needs to be adjusted up or down to reflect the rent a prospective buyer of the business would expect to pay.
  • Occasionally there are non-recurring expenses, such as an extraordinary legal bill due to a lawsuit, that may be added back to cash flow.
  • There can also be non-recurring income (i.e. sale of a fixed asset at a large gain).
  • Some businesses employ multiple family members who may receive above-market compensation.  The above-market portion of their salaries can be added back to the extent there is sufficient expense remaining to enable a prospective buyer to replace those family members at a competitive market rate (or adjust their salaries if they stay on board).
  • These are some of the common adjustments, but there may be justification for others.

Small business valuations are based on multiples of Seller’s Discretionary Earnings

When it comes to valuing a small business (under $3,000,000 in value), SDE is the common denominator to which a multiple is then applied.

The multiples are driven by a range of financial factors including: 1) financing formulas; 2) the buyer’s need to have a reasonable return on investment after paying debt service on the acquisition; and 3) the buyer’s need to receive reasonable compensation for the time and effort required to run the newly acquired business.  There are numerous other factors, including the industry, that can also affect the selection of an appropriate multiple.

But one of the primary factors is the level of SDE itself.  For financial reasons, buyers are willing to pay a higher multiple for higher SDE.  The following is representative of the range of multiples at various “cash flow” (SDE) levels:

    SDE        Multiple            Business Value
$50,000 1.0 – 1.25 $50,000 – $62,500
$75,000 1.1 – 1.8 $82,500 – $135,000
$100,000 2.0 – 2.7 $200,000 – $270,000
$200,000 2.5 – 3.0 $500,000 – $600,000
$500,000 3.0 – 4.0 $1,500,000 – $2,000,000
$1,000,000 3.25 – 4.25  $3,250,000 – $4,250,000

CAUTION:  The above multiples do not apply to all industries.  For instance, the construction industry would typically have lower multiples than displayed above.

Seller’s Discretionary Earnings is a very important concept to understand

Because it is the foundation of business valuation for small businesses, Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE) is an important concept to understand.  Having an SDE below $100,000 is a major obstacle to a successful sale of a business (but not impossible).

Smart Businesses Use Financial Modeling To Anticipate Future Growth

Written by allroads. Posted in Financial Modeling

Financial model on a tablet
Wouldn’t doing business be so much easier if CEOs could see into the future? Unfortunately the closest a business owner or leader will ever come to having a crystal ball is establishing a strong, fact-based financial model. Not only do these models provide CEO’s with the best possible view into their financial future, they are also imperative when attempting to secure additional capital. No banker, loan officer or investor will sit down and have a meaningful discussion with a business owner who doesn’t have a financial plan.

Six Benefits of Using Financial Models

Written by allroads. Posted in Financial Modeling

Gathering around financial planning
A financial model is a set of assumptions about future business conditions that drive projections of a company’s revenue, earnings, cash flows and balance sheet accounts. In practice, we use financial model in a spreadsheet form (usually in Microsoft’s Excel software) to forecast a company’s future financial performance.