Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Balance Sheet- Does it Matter to a Business

The one of three forms a business owner often does not understand is a balance sheet. This form is one of the best methods for an owner to see how the financial health of the business is and possibly start to see where to improve the business.

What is a Balance Sheet?

The balance sheet is divided into three parts – assets, liabilities and equity.  An asset is something a business owns or has value like cash, equipment, inventory and investments. When completing a balance sheet, do not forget to include items you may not have complete ownership to like the building, a leased car etc.

What is an Asset?

There are two types of assets – current and non-current. A current asset can be turned into cash quickly (usually within one year) like cash, accounts receivable and inventory.  A business owner would not normally expect to keep owed amounts or inventory past this one-year time frame anyway. A non-current asset is the opposite – it is not expected to be turned into cash quickly and include items like fixed assets (land, facilities, equipment and cars.  These assets tend to be used in creating sales for the business.

What is a Liability?

The second part is the liabilities. This is where the business reports what it owes to other people or businesses.  Another name for these items is accounts payable.  Again this section is divided into current and non-current liabilities with the same time requirement as assets. Current paid off within a year and non-current longer than a year is how a business owner should look at the items.

What is Owner’s Equity?

The final section is equity and shows how much the business is worth to the owner(s). It should be the difference between assets minus liabilities. This section can be either positive or negative depending on what is happening within the business. If there is a decision to expand operations, then this section may be in the red due to increased expenses. If there was a significant in sales, the owner may decide to keep money in the business for future use and it would be in the black.

The one thing a balance sheet does not show is how profitable a business is. This is reported on the income statement (a form we will talk about in another column). 

As a business owner, the balance sheet provides a snapshot of the health of the business at that moment and is an aid in deciding on future plans for the business. If there are questions about a balance sheet or any part of your business, feel free to contact Richard Proffer at the University of Missouri Extension Small Business Technology Development Center at 573-243-3581 or email at

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