Analyzing and Interpreting Financial Statements

Business.com / Education / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Understanding the financial details of your business – and, at times, being able to communicate them to others – can mean ...

Understanding the financial details of your business – and, at times, being able to communicate them to others – can mean the difference between success and failure. Informed business owners pay attention to the numbers that show whether a business is profitable, has cash flow problems or is spending too much in certain areas. Analyzing financial data also can help you set business objectives on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Here are three reasons to organize and study financial statements:

  1. Get an overview of how your business is doing and where it is heading.
  2. Keep control of general and administrative expenses.
  3. Careful records can help attract investors to your business.

Discover the details of different financial statements

The income statement and balance sheet are the main parts of a financial statement. Income statements, also called profit and loss (p&l) statements, show the money in (income, revenue and sales) and money out (expenses and costs) of a business. What's left over is the profit. Balance sheets show what a company owns and what it owes. A cash flow statement looks at ways cash enters and leaves a company.

Know the important line items

There are several key pieces of information you'll want to analyze. Working capital is determined by subtracting current liabilities from current assets. Look at the amount of revenue you earn on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis to see if you are meeting your business objectives. Compensation may be one of the biggest expenses if you have employees. Don't forget to include the costs of your own salary and benefits.
financial statement basics for business startups. You'll find detailed explanations of balance sheets and income statements.

Enlist software help to get your financial ducks in order

Financial software can help collect and organize financial information, as well as run a wide range of charts and reports.

Check the bottom line on profits

Profit margin is found by subtracting general and administrative expenses from gross profit, then dividing that number by sales.

Establish more financial credibility

Listing your company's financial information with a business database can help give potential clients an overview of your company's financial history and stability. Financial statements, bill-paying history and creditworthiness are just some of the areas that clients may be able to access in a report about your company.
  • Manage information proactively and look through financial statements on a monthly basis.
  • Carefully kept records are crucial in case you must respond to an outside audit.
  • Keep an internal trail of transactions so that you can track any discrepancies, such as unrecorded payments.

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