I enjoy working with Trilogy clients, helping them to better understand their financials to set strategy and drive growth. But what happens when owners want to exit the business? How can they ensure that they get the highest value for the business they’ve dedicated their life to build?
As you may know, the industry standard valuation method is a multiple of a organization’s Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA). The objective of a company in the short-term is to maximize EBITDA any way possible, to improve its value. However, depending on your industry or business model, one may have to decide if EBITDA is the best strategy to value your business as demonstrated by these two examples:
First, let’s look at MakeStuff, LLC, a manufacturing company that has been operating for 25 years and is positioning itself for exit. With a multiplier of 5X, any addition to EBITDA has considerable impact. While there are alternate ways to add to EBITDA from cutting overhead expenses to increasing sales, MakeStuff chooses to discount products heavily to incentivize purchasing and top-line growth. The gross profit margin will decrease, a strategy that may not be sustainable in the long-run, but every extra dollar of gross profit margin would improve the EBITDA. Ultimately, if the company raises the total EBITDA from $1,000,000 to $1,200,000 for the year, with a 5X multiplier, this would yield $1,000,000 more at time of sale.
Now consider Govt Software, LLC, a software company positioning for exit in the government space. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) or Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) are major factors for this type of entity and can be more critical than solely an EBITDA multiplier. Therefore, this company could have a completely different strategy than MakeStuff.
Govt Software’s value lies in its targeted niche, licensing specifically for government agencies and multi-year contracts. There are many larger companies that have better economies of scale with more dollars to invest in infrastructure, so Govt Software becomes very attractive as an added revenue line for a larger company.
In this instance, with the goal of exiting soon, Govt Software would be wise to reinvest all profits in sales and marketing initiatives that would help the company improve the overall MRR. With a revenue multiple of 3X, they would add $300K in company value for every $100K of annual contracts added, regardless of a positive or neutral effect to the EBITDA.
Preparing for exit is not something that should be left to chance or done without professional guidance. Each specific case needs to take into consideration the specifics of the business involved in the M&A transaction. If you’d like to have a conversation to learn more, contact Trilogy Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-688-0428.