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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.
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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Now there are additional considerations like depreciation for buildings machinery and equipment and the value of receivables and other moneys owed to you but that is the general rule. How Liabilities Are Valued The next step is to make a list of items that your business owes or obligations that it has. This could be money that you owe to your suppliers for products and services or money that you owe to your employees for services performed or money that you owe to the government for taxes or or money that you owe to the bank or another lender. It could even be money that the business owes to you as an owner. Remember what I said before about conservatism? Well this counts for liabilities as well only in this case the concern is that liabilities are undervalued or even worse unrecognized and unrecorded. The general rule of liabilities is that they are included at amortized cost which should be equal to the amount owed on them at that moment in time.