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Simply put, the income statement measures all your revenue sources vs. business expenses for a given time period. To help explain things easily, let's consider an apparel manufacturer as an example in outlining the major components of the income statement:
The balance sheet provides a snapshot of the business's assets, liabilities and owner's equity for a given time. Again, using an apparel manufacturer as an example, here are the key components of the balance sheet:
Current assets. These are the assets in a business that can be converted to cash in one year or less. They include cash, stocks and other liquid investments, accounts receivable, inventory and prepaid expenses. For a clothing manufacturer, the inventory would include raw materials (yarn, thread, etc.), work-in-progress (started but not finished), and finished goods (shirts and pants ready to sell to customers). Accounts receivable represents the amount of money owed to the business by customers who have purchased on credit.
Fixed assets. These are the tangible assets of a business that won't be converted to cash within a year during the normal course of operation. Fixed assets are for long-term use and include land, buildings, leasehold improvements, equipment, machinery and vehicles. Intangible assets: These are assets that you cannot touch or see but that have value. Intangible assets include franchise rights, goodwill, noncompete agreements, patents and many other items.
Other assets. There are many assets that can be classified as other assets, and most business balance sheets have an "other assets" category as a catchall. Some of the most common other assets include cash value of life insurance, long-term investment property and compensation due from employees.
Current liabilities. These are the obligations of the business that are due within one year. Current liabilities include notes payable on lines of credit or other short-term loans, current maturities of long-term debt, accounts payable to trade creditors, accrued expenses and taxes (an accrual is an expense such as the payroll that is due to employees for hours worked but has not been paid), and amounts due to stockholders.
Long-term liabilities. These are the obligations of the business that aren't due for at least one year. Long-term liabilities typically consist of all bank debt or stockholder loans payable outside of the following 12-month period.
Owner's equity. This figure represents the total amount invested by the stockholders plus the accumulated profit of the business. Components include common stock, paid-in-capital (amounts invested not involving a stock purchase) and retained earnings (cumulative earnings since inception of the business less dividends paid to stockholders).
The cash-flow statement is designed to convert the accrual basis of accounting used to prepare the income statement and balance sheet back to a cash basis. This may sound redundant, but it's necessary. The accrual basis of accounting generally is preferred for the income statement and balance sheet because it more accurately matches revenue sources to the expenses incurred generating those specific revenue sources. However, it also is important to analyze the actual level of cash flowing into and out of the business.
Like the income statement, the cash-flow statement measures financial activity over a period of time. The cash-flow statement also tracks the effects of changes in balance sheet accounts.
The cash-flow statement is one of the most useful financial management tools you will have to run your business. The cash-flow statement is divided into four categories:
1. Net cash flow from operating activities. Operating activities are the daily internal activities of a business that either require cash or generate it. They include cash collections from customers; cash paid to suppliers and employees; cash paid for operating expenses, interest and taxes; and cash revenue from interest dividends.
2. Net cash flow from investing activities. Investing activities are discretionary investments made by management. These primarily consist of the purchase (or sale) of equipment.
3. Net cash flow from financing activities. Financing activities are those external sources and uses of cash that affect cash flow. These include sales of common stock, changes in short- or long-term loans and dividends paid.
4. Net change in cash and marketable securities. The results of the first three calculations are used to determine the total change in cash and marketable securities caused by fluctuations in operating, investing and financing cash flow. This number is then checked against the change in cash reflected on the balance sheet from period to period to verify that the calculation has been done correctly.