Valuation of businesses

"What's he want for it?" asks Darryl in The Castle whenever he hears of someone selling odds and sods. Darryl is the "Aussie battler" father figure in this 1997 hit Australian comedy film. On hearing the numbers his stock response is: "Tell him he's dreaming."

Darryl is valuing odds and sods. To price or value a business the more useful question is "What's it worth?" It's a common question when someone wants to sell, buy, lease, license, borrow, lend, attract equity capital, partner, outsource or carry out numerous other legal transactions. There is rarely a stock answer.

The topic of valuation is taken up by two lawyers in our firm this month in practical articles in the Library section of this Website.  The first article is by Daniel Dwyer and is titled 51 hints to achieve your premium business sale price.

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The long beard and The Long Tail

Here's a concept from statistics to prompt thinking about your strategy in this time of extraordinary change. I just stumbled on the fact that The Long Tail is an illustration of Vilfredo Pareto's 80/20 principle. Pareto has the long beard (as pictured); Chris Anderson has the tail.

Here's what happened and why I believe the Pareto principle is useful for you to gain greater focus and invent your future during this time of turbulance and opportunity. The Pareto principle is useful for managing priorities in business and in one's personal life.

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Preparing a business exit strategy

Last month I jumped at the chance to speak at a conference of business consultants.

I knew the audience would be owner/operators of consultancy businesses.

I titled my presentation "Preparing your service business for sale".

From my PowerPoint for the conference I have extracted for Lightbulb law blog readers:

  • Eight hints for planning now for an exit;
  • Six hints to increase your sale price; and
  • Nine options or types of collaborative arrangements.

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Business valuation with EBIT multiples

What a business is worth is a financial, accounting, commercial or business question. It is not a legal question. Make a false, misleading or deceptive statement  or move in reply to the question, and it may become a legal issue. It has recently become a legal issue for MySpace in the dispute over whether the valuation and sale price of US$580 million  was in order.

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Business law: codes, policies and standards

Codes of practice have been growing over many years in the Australian legal environment for business.

Though useful, they can be a problematic development in the context of legal tradition dominated as it is by two sources of law. These are of course common law (ie court decisions) and statutory law (eg Acts and regulations made by parliament).

These two great rivers of law now meet a flooded delta. The delta is flooded by numerous thin tributaries, legal and non-legal instruments bearing keywords in their titles such as code, policy, standard or even technical protocol. This post examines the flood.

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51 hints to achieve your premium business sale price

Achieving an optimum sale price for an enterprise isn't something that everyone thinks about when starting up their business. Like most things in life, it's far more effective if you prepare in advance.

Most facets of enterprise development are planned, whether it be a marketing plan, IT plan, overarching business plan or disaster management planning.  Foreseeing the sale of your enterprise should be approached in a similar manner.

These hints provide you with some handy insight into the selling of an enterprise.

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How to say "intellectual property" in three languages

Read this post and you will learn to say "intellectual property" in three languages and you will look forward to the day when one language might suffice.  This post comments on terms relevant to commercialisation. An earlier one was Defining Commercialisation.

The first language comes from management consultants (others commonly using this language  are in IT and venture capital). They often say "intellectual capital" when referring to what lawyers prefer to call "intellectual property".

The concept of intellectual capital, and increasing discussion of that concept in management literature (especially since the late 1980s), has given prominence to the role of processes and competencies in creating environments for creativity, invention, innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialisation and good management generally.

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Changing views on time and the epidemic of short termism

One of the most significant developments in our changing times are the changing views on time. Those who are thirty-something or over will recognise the change when they hear the expressions 'need for speed' and 'strategic agility'. What other evidence is there of changing views on time in business and in law? What are the implications? Here are introductory notes.

Today, as you read this Lightbulb law blog post you are or have just finished multi-tasking. Your mind is likely on your next task. While you read you may be re-arranging your desktop, scrolling through your email in-box, or wondering about lunch, dinner, or picking up a child from pre-school.

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"The most successful product ever marketed in America"

The story of Chester Carlson's invention and development of xerography is a classic tale. A result was the creation of the Xerox 914 plain paper photocopier, which Fortune magazine once described as 'the most successful product ever marketed in America'. The story provides axioms about commercialiation and immunises us against get rich quick schemes. It is essential reading for innovators.

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Woolworths gambles... and loses

The recent Federal Court decision in relation to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) action against Woolworths Limited and Liquorland (Australia) Pty Ltd has been an interesting case study of both issues relating to anti-competitive behavior, as well as in the different paths taken by the companies involved.

There's been a few good commentary pieces on the decision worth reading, such as these by people at Minter Ellison and Freehills; the latter with some discussion as to the trade practices law limits on action to protect one's business. One interesting aspect not particularly examined was the decision by Woolies to fight through to the a hearing, especially after its co-accused, Liquorland, bowed out in the face of what seems to be rather clear evidence.

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Exporting and benefiting from education

The export of Australian education services is an excellent example of the increasing commercialisation of services. Today's Australian Financial Review (AFR) contains a number of reports with good news on trends in the export of Australian education services. The OECD recognises Australia is among the world leaders in cross-border education. 

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Book Review: "Are we our own worst enemy?"

Earlier this year the Federal Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a research study on public support for science and innovation. There were over 100 submissions. The Commission's work has progressed, and includes a 585 page staff working paper titled Econometric Modelling of R&D and Australia's Productivity.

A book published earlier this year provides a perspective on contemporary science and innovation policy. It would be interesting to read the submissions to the Productivity Commision in light of the book by Dr Thomas Barlow, a thirty-something consultant who served from 2002 to 2004 as Scientific Adviser to Dr Brendan Nelson, Minister for Education, Science and Training in the Howard Government.

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The benefits of free and open source software

From a historical perspective, users of IT first paid largely for hardware, then software, and today services. Today hardware is inexpensive relative to its historical cost. Today the real cost of software continues to be well beyond what you pay up front for the licence. Hence the focus is more and more on services applied to the hardware and software. In this opportunity open source software is growing at an exponential rate.

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Learning from the wine world of Max Schubert

"All winemakers should possess a good fertile imagination if they are to be successful in their craft."  So said Max Schubert, legendary Australian winemaker and the man responsible for Penfolds Grange , Australia's most famous wine.  Robert Parker, perhaps the world's most respected wine critic, has gone so far to say that Grange "has replaced Bordeaux's Pétrus as the world's most exotic and concentrated wine."

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Blogs that work in the "attention economy"

In what has been variously described as the "attention economy" or the entertainment economy, being noticed is more important than ever as compared to being substantive.

So who is popular online among business-related blogs and websites?

This is important for us to track as a law firm specialising in the commercialisation of Websites, Web ventures, content on the Internet and information technology.

David Sifry, the founder and CEO of Technorati should know which blogs are popular. His latest quarterly report is The State of the Live Web. It is a statistics and graphics-rich report on the status of the world of blogs (ie the blogsphere).  Details and observations follow and one personal prediction.

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