Balance Sheet

Introduction to Balance Sheet

mini-lectures: Balance Sheet A Balance Sheet is simply a picture of a business at a specific point in time, usually the end of the month or year. By analyzing and reviewing this financial statement the current financial "health" of a business can be determined. The balance sheet is derived from our accounting equation and is a formal representation of our equation. This equation is also called the Balance Sheet Equation.

Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity.

A standard company balance sheet has three parts: assets, liabilities and ownership equity. The main categories of assets are usually listed first, and typically in order of liquidity. Assets are followed by the liabilities. The difference between the assets and the liabilities is known as equity or the net assets or the net worth or capital of the company and according to the accounting equation, net worth must equal assets minus liabilities.

Another way to look at the same equation is that assets equal liabilities plus owner's equity. Looking at the equation in this way shows how assets were financed: either by borrowing money (liability) or by using the owner's money (owner's equity). Balance sheets are usually presented with assets in one section and liabilities and net worth in the other section with the two sections ”balancing.”

A business operating entirely in cash can measure its profits by withdrawing the entire bank balance at the end of the period, plus any cash in hand. However, many businesses are not paid immediately; they build up inventories of goods and they acquire buildings and equipment. In other words: businesses have assets and so they cannot, even if they want to, immediately turn these into cash at the end of each period. Often, these businesses owe money to suppliers and to tax authorities, and the proprietors do not withdraw all their original capital and profits at the end of each period. In other words businesses also have liabilities.

A balance sheet summarizes an organization or individual's assets, equity and liabilities at a specific point in time. We have two forms of balance sheet. They are the report form and the account form. Individuals and small businesses tend to have simple balance sheets. Larger businesses tend to have more complex balance sheets, and these are presented in the organization's annual report. Large businesses also may prepare balance sheets for segments of their businesses. A balance sheet is often presented alongside one for a different point in time (typically the previous year) for comparison.

An outline of a balance sheet using the balance sheet classifications is shown here:

Example Company
Balance Sheet
December 31, 2011

Current Assets Current Liabilities
Investments Long-term liabilities
Property, Plant, and Equipment Total Liabilities
Intangible Assets
Other Assets Owner's Equity
Total Assets Total Liabilities & Owner's Equity

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