The Sofer Advisors team doesn’t have a crystal ball. We’ve never worked with a client with the ability to see the future, either. Despite all this, we know for certain an economic shift is coming at some point in the future.
How can we be so certain?
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes,” yet economic shifts have become nearly as certain as those two inevitable items. What matters for small and medium businesses is positioning yourself to maintain business resiliency and to weather the storm—no matter what form it takes.
Most business leaders have experienced several economic shifts in their career. Example: The crisis of 2008 was the worst financial disaster in American history since the Great Depression. It wasn’t only banks that suffered—the stock market lost almost $8 trillion in value and unemployment soared to 10% by October 2009. Individual Americans lost an estimated $9.8 trillion as everything from their home to their 401K plummeted in value.
More recently, we all faced tremendous business challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Census Bureau, more than 45% of American companies had their payrolls impacted by lockdowns. Just a few years past the health crisis, business leaders are asking, “What’s next?”
As stated, our company valuation team cannot foresee the future. Yet we know challenges are coming. Our clients have also speculated about the next economic shift. It isn’t a waste of time to “wargame” or plan out your own response to such potential future events. For instance, how will your business respond if AI rapidly disrupts your industry? Or how will you react to a stock market crash, perhaps driven by inflation, a commercial real estate slump, and/or credit card balances at a 10-year high?
Yet, even without knowing the specifics of what challenges your business may face, economic resilience is nonetheless vital to build. What may surprise you is to learn that Sofer Advisors’ business valuation services can also play a central role in preparing your business for the future. Let’s consider how business valuations help to “future proof” your organization.
Defining Strengths and Weaknesses
The business advisory services we provide, along with your company valuation, help define your company’s strengths and its weaknesses. Many of our clients focus on the latter as they see it as the best way to rapidly improve their value. But from the perspective of economic shifts, it is just as critical to strengthen existing strengths so they can endure no matter what happens.
Just as important as considering your own strengths and weaknesses, a strong business valuation also includes benchmarking against competitors. If your rivals are doing things differently, for example, embracing ChatGPT and other AI tools to make their business more efficient, we will find evidence in the form of their margins or ratios, like return on assets and return on equity. This serves as a warning sign your competition may have better resilience in business than you do.
Enhanced Strategic Planning
Business valuation is also strategic planning’s best friend. A company valuation answers many questions about your organization, increasing the number of “knowns” and decreasing “unknowns.” By limiting variables you must consider, you’re best equipped to plan strategically for the next economic shift. In other words, with an unbeatable understanding of how your business operates, contingency plans are easier to develop and likelier to be effective. But there is another benefit many leaders don’t realize until they have experienced business valuation services completed the Sofer Advisors way.
We help our clients to realize what strategic initiatives and projects are likely to have the most impact on their business. In the case of an economic downturn, it is the companies that invest in such projects during the downturn who are best positioned to come out of the difficulty strong. When the economy roars back, you want your business to be ready to leap ahead—not just trying to implement plans that may or may not supercharge operations.
Preparing for Economic Shifts of All Sizes
Not every plan must be in preparation for a massive economic change. Often, potential improvements to your operations become clear even if there isn’t a major economic event in the near future. As an example, consider one of the findings of a recent company valuation we completed for a manufacturer in Georgia.
As part of our deep dive on the company’s process and supplier relationships, we found an important component was sourced from a single supplier. Even if a major economic shift doesn’t occur soon, that presents a risk to the company’s production model. Think about a minor economic shift, one that puts the supplier out of business. A key suggestion to this client was to lower their risk and create contingency plans to ensure the uninterrupted supply of components it needs to satisfy customer demand.
The next economic shift, whatever form it takes, needn’t be an existential threat to your business. Careful planning based on an accurate and comprehensive business valuation can improve your organization’s economic resilience. Why not prepare now to best handle the next challenge—while also preparing to blow past your competitors when the good times return?
Please contact Sofer Advisors today for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help your company prepare for whatever comes next.
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, financial services, and manufacturing & distribution.