The term EBITDA is not something a lot of MSPs fully understand or use regularly. As a financial tool, it is worth knowing how it is used and why. But, should you use EBITDA as a metric for managing your MSP practice? Maybe, maybe not.

To answer this question, we must define EBITDA, look at how it is used within general accounting, and more specifically how it is used within MSP M&A and investing. Only then can you know whether EBITDA is something you should use regularly as a guidepost for running your MSP practice.

What is EBITDA?

EBITDA stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. It’s a financial metric that provides insight into a company’s overall financial performance. Essentially, EBITDA represents the operating profit before accounting for certain expenses and financial obligations.

-EBITDA focuses on operating profit before expenses, while net income considers total earnings after expenses.
-EBITDA may overstate cash flow, as it doesn’t account for all business aspects.
-Many businesses use EBITDA to minimize the impact of external factors beyond their control. However, it should not be a substitute for understanding actual cash flow.

What is Net Income?

-Net Income: Despite EBITDA’s advantages, net income remains crucial. It accounts for all expenses, including taxes and interest. Net income reflects the true profitability after considering all financial obligations.
-True Profitability: Net income reflects the actual profitability after considering all financial obligations.
-Cash Flow: Unlike EBITDA, net income considers all business aspects and provides a more accurate measure of cash flow.

Is EBITDA Relevant to MSPs?

Absolutely! EBITDA matters for MSPs, and here’s why:

-Simplicity and Clarity: EBITDA simplifies financial analysis by excluding interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. This clarity allows you to focus on the core operational performance of your MSP without getting bogged down by accounting intricacies.
-Comparability: EBITDA facilitates “apples-to-apples” comparisons across different companies. Since it disregards industry-specific factors like tax rates and interest expenses, you can benchmark your MSP against competitors more effectively.
-Valuation: When it comes to selling your MSP or attracting investors, EBITDA plays a crucial role. Buyers often use EBITDA as a key metric to assess the company’s worth. A higher EBITDA indicates better profitability and cash flow potential.

Do Buyers Really Use EBITDA in Valuation Calculations?

Yes! Prospective buyers frequently consider EBITDA when evaluating an MSP for acquisition. By understanding your EBITDA, you can position your business strategically during negotiations. Remember that EBITDA provides a snapshot of your company’s financial health, making it an essential talking point.

Other Financial Metrics for MSPs

While EBITDA is valuable, it’s essential to complement it with other relevant metrics:

-Cash Flow: Monitor your cash flow diligently. Positive cash flow ensures operational stability and liquidity. Cash flow metrics help you manage day-to-day operations effectively.
-Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Understand the long-term value of your clients. CLV considers revenue generated from a customer over their entire engagement with your MSP.
-Churn Rate: Keep an eye on customer churn. High churn rates can impact profitability. Retaining existing clients is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
-EBITDA is useful for determining a company’s operational performance and is especially used by investors as it allows for easier comparisons across different industries because it disregards industry-specific factors.

Remember, because EBITDA disregards industry-specific factors, one of the criticisms of its use it does not take into account many MSP metrics which fall outside EBITDA calculations and are nevertheless important to the managed services profession.

In Conclusion

While EBITDA provides valuable insights, remember that it’s just one piece of the financial puzzle. Combine it with other metrics to gain a comprehensive view of your MSP’s performance. Whether you’re aiming to sell your business or simply enhance its financial health, understanding EBITDA empowers you to make informed decisions.

So, embrace EBITDA, but don’t forget to consider the bigger financial picture. Your MSP’s success lies in balancing multiple metrics and adapting them to your unique business context.

Tags : EBITDA,MSP KPIs,MSP metrics,MSP valuation

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