Some Americans have a bad habit of not going to the doctor—whether they suspect something’s wrong or they’re simply due for a checkup. Especially in the current inflationary economy, the cost of care is a major factor as to why they don’t seek the help they need. Others skip appointments for very different reasons—one of which applies to business owners who put off making appointments with a business appraiser.
Returning to the medical side, a survey of 2,000 Americans revealed 40% avoid medical care due to anxiety about procedures. 39% report fears about a serious diagnosis. In the world of business valuation services, owners often avoid seeking a business appraisal for similar reasons. This makes sense if you think about it. After all, what is a small or medium business—if not an extension of its owner?
Thankfully, the Sofer Advisors team works diligently to help our clients overcome the mental hurdles inherent to undertaking a company valuation. While we never downplay the extensive work needed for an accurate and defensible valuation, there is much that an expert business appraiser can do to make the process easier for all involved.
For starters, an expert valuation is a critical component in many situations, whether it’s dealing with the IRS or completing due diligence before an M&A deal can occur. But the process of achieving the best valuation possible, while exhaustive, needn’t create anxiety and undue stress levels. To overcome hurdles holding back a business appraisal with the potential to reveal a roadmap for future success, Sofer Advisors recommends these suggestions we share with new clients.
Get Your Documents in Order
It should be no surprise that business appraisers are interested in reviewing key financial info providing insight into your operations. Gathering such documents in advance can remove stress from the valuation process. Equally important? Being forthright when you don’t have the paperwork you’re asked to provide.
It’s quite common, especially with startups and certain family businesses that important paperwork just doesn’t exist in any official form. No biggie. If you don’t have a formal organization chart, or other financial documents, it isn’t necessarily a barrier to an accurate valuation.
But letting us know as early in the process as possible is vital. We can always make reasonable assumptions based on industry data and/or our informed judgment. In fact, Sofer Advisors often helps businesses lacking formal documents create the needed structure to make them more attractive to banks, investors, and other financial entities.
Assign a Point Person
Business owners are busy. They often rush to start the valuation process but then must delay due to how hectic their schedule becomes, especially when complicated by travel. While sometimes a delay may be due to hectic schedules, more often than not, owners are busy with competing priorities—which, of course, can shift on a daily basis. Understandably, a valuation may be near the top of their priorities one day, but then get pushed aside if/when they are chasing a new revenue opportunity.
While owners are an indispensable part of the valuation process, too often their interests are better served by assigning a point person equipped to field questions and escalate them to the owner as needed. The point person can be internal (a key employee) or external (i.e., a CPA, an attorney, a financial planner, etc.) to an organization. Again, this solution enables leadership to receive an accurate and timely valuation—without sacrificing schedules.
Sometimes It Takes a Team
Sometimes a point person just isn’t enough. Sofer Advisors will ask deep questions about every area of your company, so even having an accountant on hand to answer financial questions isn’t sufficient when the goal is getting the best business appraisal possible. Therefore, many valuations require a team-based collaborative approach.
Depending on the size of your company, you might need multiple team members involved to ensure we get a full (and accurate) picture of your operations. Also, it’s completely normal to include input from finance, production, sales, and other major functions into the valuation process. The message to owners and leaders is simple: “You don’t need to do this alone.”
Maintain Patience and Focus
Let’s face it—answering questions can be tiring. And business valuation services include a lot of questions, as our team tends to frequently reach out with queries to gain an accurate picture of your operations. In actuality, once our organization is engaged with a valuation and we’ve received the initial data package, we try to limit our requests to our clients’ busy organizations.
In fact, we tend to send little to no questions for several weeks while we crunch numbers, benchmark figures, and conduct industry research. This way busy business owners can focus on their own operations. (We want to especially maximize the ROI of the time we do get with them when we hit phase three of four. This occurs at about the halfway mark or 2/3s of the way into an engagement.)
At that time, yes, we will need to have more critical discussions. But as stated, we very much try to minimize frequent reach-outs, knowing how busy our clients are. Even so, the secret to dealing with dread associated with more emails and more calls added to your already busy day is to remember this: The more accurate information we gather, the clearer our valuation will be.
Never Be Afraid to Ask Challenging Questions
We wish to learn about your business and provide the most accurate valuation possible, but we also recognize you know what’s under the hood of your business better than anyone. If you think we’re following a line of inquiry that doesn’t make sense, ask us to explain our thinking. Also, when we share assumptions and other data, challenge it if you don’t think it’s right. An engaged owner is essential to the valuation process, so we’re always responsive to feedback and questions!
A company valuation can be a major undertaking, especially when done right. But it needn’t be such a herculean task that it takes over your life or worse yet—gets delayed and put off to the point it harms your company. The right business appraiser with the right team of experts (on both sides of the table) can transform this process into a completely manageable task, setting you up for future success. Contact Sofer Advisors today for your free consultation to learn how we make a difference for each and every client.
David Hern is the founder and chief executive officer of Sofer Advisors, LLC focusing on business advisory services related to litigation assistance, estate and tax planning, and business enterprise valuations for various privately-held and public companies. He is a qualified financial analyst with a proven ability to simply and clearly communicate analysis to boards of directors, presidents and CEOs, CFOs, controllers and private equity portfolio managers. David has been recognized for enabling organizations to determine their enterprise and equity value for a variety of situations including strategic planning, sale or IPO, mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting (common stock, stock options grants, purchase price allocations, impairment analyses, etc.) and tax compliance (estate & gift, 409A, NUBIG). Industry experience includes, but is not limited to, professional services, business service, healthcare, information technology, transportation & logistics, retail & restaurant, construction and manufacturing & distribution.