Archive for August, 2011

Customer Concentration

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Pretend there are two companies with identical financial statements. We’ll call them Company A and Company B. Both have been in business the same amount of time, and they are both in the same industry. They are even located in the same city. Yet one will likely sell for at least 20% more than the other.

Why is this? Company A has 15% of its business with a single customer and 10% with another single customer. Company B has no single customer that accounts for more than 3% of total business. No matter how wonderful those two big customers of Company A may be, that level of customer concentration negatively impacts the value of the company.

Buyers are very skittish about buying a business with significant customer concentration issues. They won’t be convinced by assurances that the large customers(s) will not go elsewhere. The fear: if I lose a customer that accounts for 15% or even 10% of total business, the business I just bought will suffer significantly. It could even put my business in sever danger. Even if they retain those large customers, the reality is those customers have a great deal of power over Company A. Suppose the 15% customer decides to pay in 60 days instead of 30. What does the new owner do about it?

Buyers will, with some justification, discount the worth of very large customers when computing their view of business value.

S&P Downgrades US Debt, How does this impact the value fo my business?

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Well, since US debt has never been downgraded before, we don’t know. However, it’s very possible that it will make credit more expensive and harder to come by. Since most business acquisitions involve, some amount of borrowing, it may negatively impact the value and salability of your company.

On the bright side: more people are looking for investment alternatives. Stocks, bonds, and cash are all doing poorly now. Some people will reason it’s better to invest in buying a going business than in more traditional investments.