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Purpose of a Balance Sheet The balance sheet boldly declares where a business stands at a given moment in time. From the balance sheet a financially sophisticated reader can learn an immense amount of valuable information about a business and its viability. That is why potential investors and lenders will almost always ask you for a copy of your financial statements including the balance sheet income statement statement of retained earnings and statement of cash flows. This is also why you as a savvy entrepreneur need to understand the information presented on them. Why It Is Important The principal reason your business s balance sheet is so important to you and to any potential investors or lenders is that it is like a photograph of your business.
It tells how the business is put together what its principal resources are and where any potential dangers lie. Like any portrait it is incomplete in that it only shows one fleeting moment in time and therefore is most useful in conjunction with the income statement and by comparing several balance sheets over a period of time. Ahh this is where the real story begins to unfold! The clever entrepreneur becomes the Sherlock Holmes of the balance sheet and astutely looks for trends over time and checks ratios and balances to see which direction the company is headed in and to look for any potential to cut costs or perform more efficiently.
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A third way is that you can sell off assets at a gradual pace to fund your budgetary needs as you age. A reverse mortgage is a good example of this. Assets and Liabilities You need to know what an asset is and what a liability is. You also need to know that there are different kinds of assets and different kinds of liabilities. An asset is an item of value that you own. It has a market value that is the amount that you can sell it for. The value is what the item would sell for if you had to sell it in the short term which may be days or months depending on the asset. When valuing your assets you must consider this and be honest about exactly how much your asset would sell for in the short term. The total value is written down as the asset on your balance sheet.