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The purpose of the balance sheet. The balance sheet s purpose is to provide a detailed listing of the company s assets and liabilities. It is not unlike a personal credit report. If you think about your own financial net worth you probably have a number of assets such as a home a vehicle a stock portfolio cash in a savings account and so forth. You also likely have a list of liabilities or debts such as a mortgage a car loan electric or telephone bills that have not yet been paid etc. This concept is directly analogous to a company and the balance sheet lists out all of these. Like the income statement an investor needs to be aware of the potential accounting assumptions made for the balance sheet. Obviously some line items are unambiguous. For example the worth of cash in the bank is a pretty straightforward value. However the worth of a 5 year old computer or an undeveloped piece of land are less concrete.
Understanding the different types of financial statements that can be prepared for your business and being fluent with the information each contains helps you better understand your financial position and make more informed decisions about your business. Remember - forewarned is forearmed...and you can t manage until you measure! That being said I have found that a critical measuring tool - the Balance Sheet - is often overlooked by small business owners - likely because they don t understand its importance. Let s see if we can change that... The Balance Sheet is merely a snapshot of your company s financial position as of a given point in time. Today s balance sheet could be different tomorrow - simply by writing out a check or invoicing a client. This financial statement provides the details your assets liabilities and equity - the three components of a business financial accounting - as of a particular date. Although balance sheets may be created as of any date they are typically prepared at the end of an accounting period such as a month quarter or year.
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Second your balance sheet is how anyone that you will ever want to do business with will understand your business. Think about getting a loan the first thing your banker wants to see are your financial statements and the first page of your financial statements is your balance sheet. Why is it first? Perhaps because it is the most important. Now think about your situation; you re applying for a loan or a grant or you want to do business with the federal government or an investor is thinking about either coming on board or buying you out and you present your financial statements to them.