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By Mark Borkowski

If you own any kind of business, you need to know what kind of real income your company earns. If you are prepared to do a Normalization of Income of your company it will help you determine a value. This takes some work to think through the financial exercise. It will help you determine the value of your business.
Multiples of EBITDA can range anywhere from 2.0 to 5.0+ times for most mid-market companies. Technology companies or those that have some proprietary product, process, rights, or anything else unique commands higher up the scale.
If you added back all the benefits you take out of your business and a normal salary for the work you do (and other factors) what would the “real earnings” of the company be?
This number determines the real value of your business. Factors like goodwill and other factors are all rolled into this equation.
To determine an expression of the value of the net worth of shares or assets of a company, the first exercise is to analyze and normalize the company’s financial performance as if it were a company being run “by the book”.
Today, the most common “thumbnail” valuation methodology is based on a multiple of normalized EBITDA. (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) EBITDA is the approximate measure of a company’s operating cash flow based on the company’s financial statements, before charging, interest, income taxes, depreciation, and amortization, plus all other normalizing adjustments; some of the more common being described below.
Common items requiring a normalization adjustment to net income include, but are not limited to:
• Management Salaries; careful consideration should be given to what a normal management salary, or salaries, would be for the new owners to operate the company effectively. Net income should be adjusted accordingly.
• Costs that would not exist under new ownership. Automobiles, cell phones, gas cards, car insurance, internet, home and office costs, etc.
• Family members or others on the books, who draw a salary or receive other benefits but do not actually perform work for the company.
• Commercial rent or property costs should always be adjusted to reflect actual market costs that would be incurred if the business premises were to be leased by the new owner at prevailing market rates.
• Perks that will not exist under new ownership. Examples are personal meals, entertainment, and memberships.
• Owners benefits such as key man insurance or personal term or whole life insurance, as well as pension or RRSP contributions being paid for by the company.
Each individual company may have other costs or revenue adjustments that may be required; the above are the most common.
A review of the balance sheet should then be conducted to determine what is the true retained earnings or net worth of the company. This exercise helps identify other assets or liabilities that may impact the valuation of the company. In the case of a share sale, this review will also help determine how much cash will be required to be left in the business as “working capital”.
Other important shareholder items of concern are loans to, or advances from, the company, and capital gain taxation considerations
The final factor to be determined is the appropriate multiple of EBITDA; essential to establishing a provisional value of your company.
The Multiple times Normalized EBITDA = Provisional Value.
This preliminary valuation may be undertaken prior to contacting us. To help you establish the value of your company a complimentary EBIT/EBITDA is provided for your convenience on our website.


Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile specializes in the sale of privately-owned mid-market companies. He can be contacted at mark@mercantilema.com
in confidence or www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com