Three different approaches are commonly used in business valuation: the income approach, the asset-based approach, and the market approach. Within each of these approaches, there are various techniques for determining the value of a business using the definition of value appropriate for the appraisal assignment.

Generally, the income approaches determine value by calculating the net present value of the benefit stream generated by the business (discounted cash flow); the asset-based approaches determine value by adding the sum of the parts of the business (net asset value); and the market approaches determine value by comparing the subject company to other companies in the same industry, of the same size, and/or within the same region. A number of business valuation models can be constructed that utilize various methods under the three business valuation approaches.
Income Approach
The income approach relies upon the economic principle of expectation: the value of business is based on the expected economic benefit and level of risk associated with the investment. Income based valuation methods determine fair market value by dividing the benefit stream generated by the subject or target company times a discount or capitalization rate.
The discount or capitalization rate converts the stream of benefits into present value. There are several different income methods, including capitalization of earnings or cash flows, discounted future cash flows ("DCF"), and the excess earnings method (which is a hybrid of asset and income approaches).
Asset-Based Approach The value of asset-based analysis of a business is equal to the sum of its parts. That is the theory underlying the asset-based approaches to business valuation.