Business brokers and other professional intermediaries use business valuation rules of thumb to help sellers price their businesses for sale. These "rules" are very useful for appraising nearly every small business; however they are gross simplifications and should only provide a general idea of a suitable price range for a particular business.
If a rule of thumb is used to value a business, some type of earnings multiplier makes the most sense to prospective buyers. It directly addresses the buyer's motive to make money to achieve a return on investment. Sales multiples mean nothing unless they can be translated into earnings.
What about the various tangible and intangible asset values? Do we include the real estate, equipment, vehicles, and inventory? Is there a separate value for a seller's agreement to consult with the new owner after the sale? What about non-compete agreements? What about patents, franchises and other extraordinary intangible assets? Is "value" defined as fair market value or a specific value for a specific circumstance?