Balance sheet vs profit and loss: Which one is the best to use?

Balance sheet vs profit and loss statement are two critical financial statements that businesses use to track their financial health. Understanding the differences between the two is crucial for businesses to make informed decisions about their operations, investments, and financing. In this discussion, Viindoo'll explore the definitions, key components, and importance of both the balance sheet and P&L statement in detail.

Balance Sheet

Definition and explanation of balance sheet:

What is balance sheet? 

A balance sheet is a financial statement that provides a snapshot of a company's financial position at a specific point in time. It provides a summary of a company's assets, liabilities, and equity.

Key components of balance sheet:

The key components of a balance sheet include assets, liabilities, and equity. Assets are the resources a company owns, while liabilities are the debts and obligations it owes. Equity represents the residual value of the company's assets after all liabilities have been paid.

Importance of balance sheet for businesses:

A balance sheet is important for businesses because it provides a snapshot of their financial position. It allows businesses to see how much they own and owe at a specific point in time. It also provides information on the company's liquidity, solvency, and ability to meet its financial obligations.

Examples of balance sheet accounts:

Examples of balance sheet accounts include cash, accounts receivable, inventory, property, plant, and equipment, accounts payable, long-term debt, and equity accounts such as common stock and retained earnings.

Balance sheet vs profit and loss: Which one is the best to use?
What is balance sheet?

P&L (Profit and Loss)

Definition and explanation of P&L:

  • A P&L statement, also known as an income statement or statement of operations, is a financial statement that shows a company's revenue, expenses, and net profit or loss over a specific period of time.
  • It provides an overview of a company's financial performance during a specific period, usually a fiscal quarter or year.

Key components of P&L

  • Revenue: the total amount of money earned from the sale of goods or services during the period
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS): the direct costs associated with producing and selling the goods or services, such as materials, labor, and overhead
  • Gross profit: the revenue minus the cost of goods sold
  • Operating expenses: the indirect costs associated with running the business, such as salaries, rent, utilities, and marketing expenses
  • Operating income: the gross profit minus the operating expenses
  • Other income or expenses: non-operating income or expenses that are not part of the company's core business, such as interest income or losses from investments
  • Net income or loss: the operating income plus or minus other income or expenses

Importance of P&L for businesses

  • The P&L statement is an essential tool for assessing a company's financial performance, as it shows whether the company is making a profit or a loss.
  • It also provides insight into the company's revenue and expense trends over time and can help management make informed decisions about how to allocate resources and improve profitability.

Examples of P&L accounts

  • Revenue accounts: sales revenue, service revenue, interest income
  • COGS accounts: direct materials, direct labor, manufacturing overhead
  • Operating expense accounts: salaries and wages, rent, utilities, advertising and marketing expenses, office supplies, travel expenses
  • Other income or expense accounts: interest income, gains or losses from investments, foreign exchange gains or losses
  • Net income or loss account: the final line on the P&L statement, showing the company's overall profit or loss for the period.
Balance sheet vs profit and loss: Which one is the best to use?
P&L (Profit and Loss)

Balance sheet vs profit and loss

Difference between Balance sheet vs p&l

Timing of transactions: The balance sheet shows the financial position of a business at a specific point in time, whereas the P&L shows the business's financial performance over a period of time, usually a fiscal year.

Nature of accounts: The balance sheet accounts are related to assets, liabilities, and equity, while the P&L accounts are related to revenues and expenses.

Focus on past vs future: The balance sheet provides a snapshot of a business's financial position at a specific point in time, which shows past transactions. In contrast, the P&L focuses on the future by projecting the expected revenue and expenses over a specific period.

Financial statements linked to each other: While the balance sheet and P&L are separate financial statements, they are linked to each other. The net income or loss from the P&L is transferred to the equity section of the balance sheet, which impacts the financial position of the company.

Balance sheet vs profit and loss: Which one is the best to use?
Balance sheet vs profit and loss

When to Use Balance sheet vs profit and loss

Use cases for balance sheet

  1. To assess the financial position of a business at a specific point in time.
  2. To determine the liquidity of a business by analyzing its current assets and liabilities.
  3. To evaluate the long-term solvency of a business by reviewing its capital structure.
  4. To determine the return on investment (ROI) by analyzing the equity portion of the balance sheet.

Use cases for P&L

  1. To assess the profitability of a business during a specific period
  2. To evaluate the performance of a business by comparing revenue and expenses.
  3. To analyze the efficiency of the business by calculating its gross margin and net profit margin.
  4. To make decisions about the pricing strategy, marketing, and other operational activities of the business.

Consideration between Balance sheet vs profit and loss

The decision to use either the balance sheet or P&L statement should depend on the context of the business and the questions that need to be answered. 

For example, if the objective is to assess the financial position of a business, the balance sheet should be used. If the objective is to evaluate the profitability of a business, the P&L statement should be used. 

In some cases, both statements may need to be analyzed together to gain a complete understanding of the business's financial performance. Businesses can easily deal with it by using accounting system software from Viindoo

Balance sheet vs profit and loss: Which one is the best to use?
When to Use Balance sheet vs profit and loss

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Ultimately, both Balance sheet vs profit and loss provide valuable insights into a company's financial situation, and businesses should aim to understand and utilize both in their financial analysis. Follow Viindoo for more useful knowledge.

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Balance sheet vs profit and loss: Which one is the best to use?
Viindoo Technology Joint Stock Company, Danny Ha 7 April, 2023

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