Your profit and loss statement (P&L), often referred to as an income statement, serves as a valuable tool to gauge your business's performance and profitability over specific timeframes. Unlike the balance sheet, which offers a snapshot of your financial status at a point in time, the P&L showcases transactions occurring during defined periods, be it a month, quarter, financial year, or any chosen duration. It can be presented as a stand-alone report or compared to previous periods for more comprehensive insights.
Together with the balance sheet, these two reports provide an understanding of your business's financial position and performance.
The P&L: A Dual Focus on Income and Expenses
The profit and loss statement comprises two main sections: income and expenses. These categories may be further divided based on your business's complexity and reporting requirements.
Income or Revenue
Income primarily encompasses core business activities, such as the sale of goods or services. It includes other sources of income like interest earned, capital gains, or revenue from secondary business activities.
Expenses are typically categorised into two sections: direct costs (cost of goods sold) and overhead expenses. Direct costs are directly related to the provision of services or the sale of goods. For instance, if you purchase widgets from a wholesaler and sell them with a markup, the cost of the widgets falls under direct costs, not overhead expenses.
Direct costs vary, some being fixed and consistent each month, while others are variable, linked to income-producing activities. Overhead expenses encompass all other costs essential for running your business, irrespective of income level. These may include rent, utilities, bank fees, bookkeeping expenses, professional development costs, vehicle expenses, and staff salaries. Many of these costs are pivotal in determining your business's break-even point – the minimum cost to keep your business operational.
Certain expenses may be considered direct costs in one business but indirect costs in another, such as merchant fees or contractor charges.
The Bottom Line: Net Profit or Loss
The culmination of total income minus total expenses results in your net profit or loss often referred to as "the bottom line." While many business owners primarily focus on this figure, obtaining a comprehensive financial picture necessitates understanding various reports and recognising their insights.
The profit and loss statement is a vital tool for analyzing trends over time. It can reveal crucial information about the relationship between sales and expenses, seasonal fluctuations, and annual trends. It also helps ensure that all billable expenses have been recovered from customers.
Financial statements are your gateway to understanding the bigger picture of your business. With a deeper insight into your business's operations and performance, you can make informed decisions regarding your finances.
Book a session today with our experienced business advisors to examine your financial reports, gain a more profound understanding of your business, and empower yourself to make informed financial decisions.