a guide to four basic fananical statement

The Guide to The Four Basic Financial Statements

What are Financial Statements?

Financial statements are indeed crucial documents for any business, offering a picture of its financial health and performance over a specific period. They serve as a formal record, detailing essential financial aspects such as assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. These statements provide business owners and finance executives with invaluable insights into the company’s financial standing, facilitating informed decision-making and strategic planning. By presenting financial data in four key sets, commonly known as financial statements, businesses can effectively organize and categorize their financial information.

These statements typically include the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and statement of retained earnings. Each statement offers unique perspectives on the company’s financial position and performance, allowing stakeholders to assess its profitability, liquidity, and overall financial stability.

The following serves as a guide elucidating the four core financial statements essential for comprehensively understanding a business’s financial health and performance.

4 Basic Financial Statements:

  1. The balance sheet or statement of the financial position
  2. The profit & loss account or an income statement
  3. The cash flow statement or formerly the flow of funds statement
  4. The statement of retained earnings or the statement of changes in comprehensive income

The balance sheet’s section on assets encompasses a comprehensive array of valuable possessions owned by the business. These include tangible assets such as raw materials, machinery, and real estate, all vital components utilized in the company’s operations and revenue generation. Moreover, liquid assets like cash are accounted for, providing the business with immediate financial flexibility. Additionally, intangible assets, such as trademarks or patents, hold significant value, representing the intellectual property that contributes to the business’s competitive advantage and long-term viability. This section serves as a crucial snapshot of the resources available to the business at a given point in time, facilitating informed decision-making and strategic planning.


Within the balance sheet, assets represent valuable possessions owned by the business. These encompass a wide array of items, including those utilized for revenue generation or those convertible into cash. Tangible assets such as raw materials, machinery, and real estate hold significance, alongside liquid assets like cash. Additionally, intangible assets, such as trademarks or patents, are accounted for, representing conceptual or intellectual property integral to the business’s operations and value.


Liabilities, an essential component of the balance sheet, denote the debts owed by the business. These obligations encompass various financial commitments, including rent, salaries, and outstanding loans payable by the company. Shareholder’s equity, often referred to as net worth, embodies the residual value that would remain if the business liquidated all assets and settled all liabilities.

Shareholder’s Equity:

Comprising the residual difference between assets and liabilities, shareholder’s equity represents the ownership interest of the company’s shareholders. It is synonymous with equity or shareholders’ equity and encompasses the total capital infused into the business by its owners, whether they are individuals, partners, or shareholders. This category encapsulates the financial stake held by the company’s investors and serves as a crucial indicator of the business’s overall financial health and value.

In a nutshell, the balance sheet shows data on assets, liabilities, and shareholder’s equity in the form of the accounting equation:


To sum up, ensuring that a business’s total assets align precisely with the sum of its liabilities and shareholder’s equity is paramount. Any discrepancy indicated on the balance sheet demands immediate attention to rectify the imbalance. This financial document serves as a vital gauge of the business’s capability to meet its financial obligations. Therefore, accountants utilize it as a tool to evaluate the overall financial health of the business. Generally, a thriving business maintains an excess of assets compared to its liabilities, indicating a strong financial standing and prudent fiscal management.

Business owners have the opportunity to employ various strategies aimed at efficiently managing their balance sheet. For instance, within the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector, it’s crucial to closely monitor consumer behavior patterns. By observing what customers typically purchase and identifying items that may not be in demand, businesses can make informed decisions about inventory management. This involves stocking up on essential products while eliminating those that may not resonate with consumers. Additionally, conducting thorough analyses of cost-reduction opportunities can significantly impact the bottom line. Optimizing logistics and supply chain operations further enhances efficiency, ensuring that resources are utilized effectively and costs are minimized. By implementing these strategies, business owners can proactively manage their balance sheets and drive sustainable growth within their organizations.

The Income Statement

The income statement contains data on the revenue and income earned and the costs and expenses incurred by the business over a specific period. Revenue is “the money generated from normal business operations, calculated as the average sales price times the number of units sold.” It is also called the “top line” of the income statement.

The expenses associated with the manufacture of the sold products, as well as the operations cost of the business, are then subtracted from the revenue, and these two, i.e., the cost of goods sold and expenses, are presented as line items on the face of the income statement. Any interest the business earned or paid over the specific period is also subtracted, and the tax expense is deducted. Once all deductions have been accounted for, we arrive at the end of the business statement, which shows the “bottom line” or the net income or loss of the business.

Business owners can use the income statement of a business to evaluate its financial performance. It differs from the balance sheet as it shows the business’ profitability, which investors and financial analysts can use to judge the investing and future viability of the business.

Business owners can consider expanding market reach and improving their current marketing strategies to improve income statements. For instance, a CPG firm can target more areas to promote its products. Moreover, business owners can also consider outsourcing their accounting to get access to expert financial insight.

The Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tracks and records the cash movement through the business over a specific period. It shows all incoming and outgoing cash over some time in the form of a statement. While the income statement represents the net profit earned by the business, the cash flow statement shows how much cash your business generated from investing, operating, and financing activities.

The purpose of the cash flow statement is not to provide a concrete dollar number for the cash available at a specific reporting time, although that can also be seen on the face of it, rather to show the change in cash flow over some time. The cash flow statement is made using data from both the income statement and the balance sheet.

Business owners can improve their cash flow statements by implementing early cash collection policies. Decision-makers can implement these policies by enforcing credit policies or offering discounts for early payments. This can help reduce the average payment collection period and accelerate cash flow from receivables.

The Statement of Retained Earnings

Out of the four basic financial statements, the statement of retained earnings is usually the least used and is often combined with the income statement. Regardless, it is still valuable as it shows the changes in the business’s retained earnings. Retained earnings is a cumulative figure representing the portion of the net income retained so far by the business after paying off dividends to the shareholders. Companies focusing on growth may not pay dividends and instead plow back the money for expansion. It shows the business’ financial stability through a record of the saved net income over time.

Making Use of the Four Basic Financial Statements

After learning about the four basic financial statements, the next step is to turn the data inside them into useful information. A simple way to achieve this is by using financial ratios. Financial ratios are mathematical formulae that refine raw financial data into meaningful information. Our publication “7 Financial Ratios Every Small Business Owner Should Know“ provides a quick guide to using ratios for analyzing a company’s financial performance.

Business owners can also hire a dedicated accounting resource to help them evaluate their financial statements and provide insights into financial performance. This can help them identify areas where the business performed well and the areas that need improvement. A growing business must focus on leveraging its financial data to measure performance and make projections for the future. This may be an expensive move for small businesses, but it remains an effective way to drive business growth. Luckily, the rising popularity and success of outsourcing accounting means that small businesses can use these four financial statements, too.

Expertise Accelerated as your FP&A Partner

Introducing Expertise Accelerated (EA), your trusted partner for outsourcing and staff augmentation needs in accounting and finance. Based in Connecticut, EA specializes in delivering tailored solutions designed to accelerate your financial operations while providing expert insights every step of the way.

By collaborating with Expertise Accelerated, businesses gain access to top-tier financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professionals, all remotely available at a fraction of the cost typically encountered within the US market. With a focus on efficiency and cost-effectiveness, EA’s services are designed to streamline your accounting processes while delivering invaluable financial expertise.

Partnering with Expertise Accelerated means more than just outsourcing your accounting needs; it’s about leveraging a dedicated team of experts who are committed to your financial growth and success. With EA by your side, you can navigate the complexities of financial management with confidence, knowing that your business’s financial health is in capable hands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *