A standard company balance sheet has two sides: assets on the left, and financing on the right–which itself has two parts; 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
of the company and according to the accounting equation
, net worth must equal assets minus liabilities.
Another way to look at the balance sheet equation is that total assets equals 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 or shareholders' 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. Two forms of balance sheet exist. They are the report form and 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.
US small business
Sample Small Business Balance Sheet
Public business entities structure
Balance sheet account names and usage depend on the organization's country and the type of organization. Government organizations do not generally follow standards established for individuals or businesses.
If applicable to the business, summary values for the following items should be included in the balance sheet:
Assets are all the things the business owns. This will include property, tools, vehicles, furniture, machinery, and so on.
- Accounts receivable
- Cash and cash equivalents
- Cash at bank, Petty Cash, Cash On Hand
- Prepaid expenses for future services that will be used within a year
- Revenue Earned In Arrears (Accrued Revenue) for services done but not yet received for the year
- Loan To (Less than one financial period)
- Property, plant and equipment
- Investment property, such as real estate held for investment purposes
- Intangible assets, such as patents, copyrights and goodwill
- Financial assets (excluding investments accounted for using the equity method, accounts receivables, and cash and cash equivalents), such as notes receivables
- Investments accounted for using the equity method
- Biological assets, which are living plants or animals. Bearer biological assets are plants or animals which bear agricultural produce for harvest, such as apple trees grown to produce apples and sheep raised to produce wool.
- Loan To (More than one financial period)
- Accounts payable
- Provisions for warranties or court decisions (contingent liabilities that are both probable and measurable)
- Financial liabilities (excluding provisions and accounts payables), such as promissory notes and corporate bonds
- Liabilities and assets for current tax
- Deferred tax liabilities and deferred tax assets
- Unearned revenue for services paid for by customers but not yet provided
- Interests on loan stock
The net assets shown by the balance sheet equals the third part of the balance sheet, which is known as the shareholders' equity
. It comprises:
- Issued capital and reserves attributable to equity holders of the parent company (controlling interest)
- Non-controlling interest in equity
Formally, shareholders' equity is part of the company's liabilities: they are funds "owing" to shareholders (after payment of all other liabilities); usually, however, "liabilities" is used in the more restrictive sense of liabilities excluding shareholders' equity. The balance of assets and liabilities (including shareholders' equity) is not a coincidence. Records of the values of each account in the balance sheet are maintained using a system of accounting known as double-entry bookkeeping
. In this sense, shareholders' equity by construction must equal assets minus liabilities, and thus the shareholders' equity is considered to be a residual.
Regarding the items in equity section, the following disclosures are required:
- Numbers of shares authorized, issued and fully paid, and issued but not fully paid
- Par value of shares
- Reconciliation of shares outstanding at the beginning and the end of the period
- Description of rights, preferences, and restrictions of shares
- Treasury shares, including shares held by subsidiaries and associates
- Shares reserved for issuance under options and contracts
- A description of the nature and purpose of each reserve within owners' equity
Balance sheet substantiation is the accounting
process conducted by businesses
on a regular basis to confirm that the balances held in the primary accounting system of record
, other ERP system's General Ledger) are reconciled (in balance with) with the balance and transaction records held in the same or supporting sub-systems.
Balance sheet substantiation includes multiple processes including reconciliation
(at a transactional or at a balance level) of the account, a process of review of the reconciliation and any pertinent supporting documentation and a formal certification
(sign-off) of the account in a predetermined form driven by corporate policy.
Balance sheet substantiation is an important process that is typically carried out on a monthly, quarterly and year-end basis. The results help to drive the regulatory balance sheet reporting obligations of the organization.
Historically, balance sheet substantiation has been a wholly manual process, driven by spreadsheets
and manual monitoring and reporting. In recent years software
solutions have been developed to bring a level of process automation
and enhanced control to the balance sheet substantiation or account certification process. These solutions are suitable for organizations with a high volume of accounts and/or personnel involved in the Balance Sheet Substantiation process and can be used to drive efficiencies, improve transparency
and help to reduce risk.
The following balance sheet is a very brief example prepared in accordance with IFRS
. It does not show all possible kinds of assets, liabilities and equity, but it shows the most usual ones. Because it shows goodwill
, it could be a consolidated
balance sheet. Monetary values are not shown, summary (subtotal) rows are missing as well.
Under IFRS items are always shown based on liquidity from the least liquid assets at the top, usually land and buildings to the most liquid, i.e. cash. Then liabilities and equity continue from the most immediate liability to be paid (usual account payable) to the least i.e. long term debt such a mortgages and owner's equity at the very bottom.
Consolidated Statement of Finance Position of XYZ, Ltd. As of 31 December 2025
TOTAL ASSETS (this will match/balance the total for Liabilities and Equity below)
TOTAL LIABILITIES and EQUITY (this will match/balance the total for Assets above)
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- ^ Small Business Administration
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Last edited on 28 May 2021, at 10:21
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