Before you open a spreadsheet, ask “how old is this thing behaving?”
Aswath Damodaran, aka Professor Damodoran, aka the guy who literally wrote THE (textbook) BOOKS on business valuation, says there are no meaningful numbers without stories.
So when it comes to valuing a business, you can and should look at the numbers, but you can’t just look at the numbers.
His best metaphor for understanding how to interpret “the numbers” is to think of the company at hand in terms of stages of life. I think this applies not only to valuing public companies, but in thinking about any business (including if you’re self-employed or daydreaming of starting something, this applies to you too).