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How Intangible Assets Impact The Value Of A Company

By Generational Equity


“While intangible assets don't have the obvious physical value of a factory or equipment, they can prove valuable for a firm and can be critical to its long-term success or failure.”

Imagine two companies – Company A and Company B. They are in the same industry and based in the same city, with similar financials and growth projections. So, when the owners decide the time is right to exit, you would imagine that both businesses would attract a similar price?

In fact, business buyers are paying a premium price for Company A, while Company B is struggling to find a buyer. How can this be? Aren’t the buyers using similar business valuation models in order to determine the value of potential targets? The answer to this significant divergence in price can be explained by two words: intangible assets.

Here is the official definition of intangible assets according to Investopedia:

“An intangible asset is an asset that is not physical in nature. Corporate intellectual property, including items such as patents, trademarks, copyrights and business methodologies, are intangible assets, as are goodwill and brand recognition. Intangible assets exist in opposition to tangible assets which include land, vehicles, equipment, inventory, stocks, bonds and cash.”

The important thing that business owners need to know about intangible assets is this: they can play a significant factor in a buyer paying a premium for a company, but do not appear on a balance sheet. This means that two companies can have drastically different values to potential buyers even if every tangible aspect of their business is identical.

These intangible assets are the factors that give your company its unique selling points, and impact your business worth in a way that it wouldn’t for another company. Their relative value will depend on the buyer, although there are steps being made by some of the world’s largest firms to implement systems to accurately measure these values. The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, which includes the chief executives of Unilever, PepsiCo and Nestlé, aims to create a unified measurement of a company’s long-term value, and is something our professionals at Generational Equity will be keeping a close eye on.

For the time being, as the “worth” of these intangible assets vary based on a buyer’s business valuation model, it is vital that company owners do a complete analysis of these assets as part of your comprehensive business exit strategy.

Creating an Intangible Asset Checklist

“Finding the optimal buyer for your business will depend greatly on your intangible assets.”

Quite often, identifying the intangible assets in your business can be difficult to accomplish. This can be due to a variety of reasons. Perhaps you as the owner are so embedded in the operations of your business, you take these intangibles for granted rather than appreciate their true worth? Or, you simply may not have time to conduct a detailed analysis of these “off balance sheet” assets and what impact they are having on your overall business value.

To give you a helpful starting point, we have put together a sample checklist that you can use as a template for your company’s intangible asset review process. This particular example focuses on the intangible assets of a manufacturing enterprise, although many can apply to a company in any industry. We recommend you use this as a guideline, but also seek professional guidance to ensure you cover all intangibles for your business.


  • Backlog: Is your business expecting new revenue streams based on booked orders?
  • Contracts: Do you have short- or long-term contracts with existing clients
  • Customer List: Will buyers be impressed by your blue-chip customer list?
  • Established Staff: Does your company have a loyal, skilled and tenured body of staff?
  • Internet Presence: Do you have a well-designed website and web recognition?
  • Patents: Are you sitting on new inventions or products that are unique in your industry?
  • Solid Supplier Base: Can your business rely upon a base of mixed, reliable suppliers?
  • Trademarks: Have you registered a trademark of a valuable and often-used phrase or product?
  • Video and audiovisual material: Do you have any recognizable artistic or creative assets in your business?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but should help give you an indication of the intangible assets in your company that, while don’t have a fixed value, could make the difference in buyers pursuing your business over another. This is extremely important, which is why we recommend you sit down with your trusted advisors to help you brainstorm over what sets your organization apart.

Why is this such a crucial step? Because finding the optimal buyer for your business will depend greatly on your intangible assets. Each buyer will evaluate a company differently based on these details, so it is important to document, analyze and understand your intangible assets to locate the ideal buyer and secure the best return on investment for your business. The more you know about the true value of your business, the better your chances of completing a successful exit.

Our experienced M&A advisors at Generational Equity are here to help you find the value in your intangible assets. They will ask the key questions to establish your business’ true worth, and find an ideal buyer through our extensive middle market portfolio, DealForce. If you’d like to learn more, attending one of our complimentary executive conferences will offer greater insight into business valuation models and creating the ideal exit strategy. These are held regularly across North America, so please check to see when we will next be in your area.

You can also reach us on our dedicated contact page. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
Through the sale process, Generational brought in several interested buyers and we closed in about 6 months. I am so glad I accepted that invitation to the conference and could not be happier with the whole process. The team at Generational coupled with their knowledge and guidance was so valuable that in the end, I know I could never have done this on my own!
JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
After attending a conference with GE, I decided that the value they bring would be worth the expense and as soon as I started working with them, I realized that was the right decision. When we started to get LOIs, Fred Zweifel took the lead on the communication and supported negotiations throughout the process, which got tricky as we moved forward. I learned that it can be common for companies to make a great offer then work to erode that price with their discoveries, but Fred and the GE team kept that from happening.
Caroline Connelly, CEO, OptoTest
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.
Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
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Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
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Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
The most important contribution I think Ahmad made was with his personality and work ethic. He is sincere, efficient, and very hard working. He was available to me at all times, whether it was for specific detail of the negotiation or just to talk through the bigger picture. He listened, advised, and recommended, but never forced his idea or opinions. In the time we worked together, he became a valued colleague and also a friend.
Salvo Stoch, Founder and CEO of Sleeping Partners
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Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for us. Not only did you take care of all the aspects of the sale but took extra care to make sure we knew what it looked like every step of the way. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone that is in a position to or looking to exit their business.
Shane and Johanna Kline, Owners of Vision Upfitters
The professionals at Generational Equity then helped develop a roadmap for enhancing the value of the firm and an evaluation report. This was completed by June 14, 2021. We then developed the Confidential Information Memorandum and put Taylor Studios, Inc. on the market by July.
Generational Equity’s professional staff helped me every step of the way. Their network and professionals are the only reason I sold my company this quickly. For me this is a once in a lifetime sale and I was unfamiliar with the process. I was able to lean on them with questions and concerns.
Betty L. Brennan, President, Taylor Studios
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Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
We had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ahmad Behjati Managing Director, M&A, for Generational Equity during our acquisition of Papa's Dodge in late 2021. Generational Equity and Mr. Behjati represented and marketed Papa’s Dodge. As our primary contact, Mr. Behjati was professional in every facet of this acquisition process, conveying valuable advice most times and assisting us in every step of the process.
Rick Greene of Dobbs Equity Partners LLC
Thanks to you, the entire GE team and especially Michael Goss for driving a great valuation, coaching me and driving the process across the finish line. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support GE going forward.
Tom Currier, Former President & CEO, Rackmount Solutions
I decided to attend the conference and hopefully receive some guidance on how to structure an exit plan of my business. Upon arriving at the conference, I was so impressed with the presentation given by Generational Equity that I set a future appointment that week to discuss the possibility of selling my business with their Senior Managing Director David Robinson.
JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!
Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
We were represented by Michael Goss with Generational. The due diligence was grueling and exhausting, but Michael propped us up and kept us motivated throughout the process. Debi and I continued to ask each other how we could possibly make it through this process without the assistance of Michael. Michael's professionalism and knowledge is absolutely amazing, and we are so blessed to have had him by our side as we made our future dreams come true.
Bob and Debi Lee, Owners of BL Technology, Inc and BL Tl Services, LLC
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.
Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.
Pete L.
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Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
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Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
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Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms