Building the foundations of a sustainable and profitable business is essential for long term viability of the operation. Having complete and timely information about the business and its performance in the marketplace is essential for managerial decision making about the productive capacities, directions and profitability of the business. These foundations are created by implementing a solid structure of business financial reporting. The accounting process needs to take into account, organise and accurately record all financial dealings of the company. At the end of each financial period, these records are then used by the company's accountant to prepare the necessary statements required. The four most common financial reports include the balance sheet, income report or statement, cash flow analysis and the statement of capital.
The balance sheet itemizes all assets that are owned by the business, along with the total debts owed by the business and the value of equity that is invested and owned by the company. The common equation for the balance sheet is the assets total the liabilities, or total amount being owed, plus the value of equity that is in the business. The balance sheet provides businesses with a snapshot in time of how the company is performing and its current financial position.
The income statement is presented in a flow format, which shows a summary of revenue types and amounts, as well as an overview of expense types and amounts, for a specific period of time. The analysis of the income statement provides the level of net profit or loss of the business, visually representing the difference between the company's revenue and expenses. Income statements are particularly important to those charged with the responsibility of managing the business as they represent the bottom line performance of the business over a set period of time.
The cash flow analysis or statement provides an overview of all the sources of income during a set period, as well as how the money has been used. Important for analysing the business's cash flow, identifying specific causes of any increase or decrease in the level of income and profit, business owners and managers utilise the information presented on the cash flow statement to ascertain the success of previous business initiatives as well as identify potential areas of concern.
Representing changes in the level and total amount of the owner's equity in the business over a period of time, the statement of capital represents the level of net income that is at the discretion of the owners to use as they choose.