Accounting 101 Balance Sheet

Financial Statements - Net Worth - Owner's EquityThe balance sheet allows a business to stop in time and take a snapshot of the company's net worth. Like most financial statements it is usually completed within a few days after the end of the month to show the net worth for the previous month. Net worth and owners equity are synonymous. Owners equity can refer to a sole proprietor, partnership or stockholder equity.

Understanding the Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is divided into two sections and each section must balance. The first section shows the business assets, the second section shows the liabilities and owners equity. The following formula is a simplistic example of what makes up the balance sheet.

Assets Liabilities = Owners Equity

To understand the concept lets show how this formula works on an individual level. If an individual owns a car (asset) worth $20,000 and the remaining balance on the car loan (liability) is $8,000, the owners equity in the car is $12,000. If this example were put on a balance sheet it would read like:

Asset $20,000Liability $8,000Owners Equity $12,000From the General Ledger to the Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is an accumulation of the general ledger (GL) accounts that affect owners equity or net worth. The general ledger accounts that affect owners equity is generally asset and liability GL accounts. The balance sheet is a financial statement that can have a left side for assets and right side for liabilities and owners equity. Of course the two sides must balance each other. It can also be stated with a top portion (assets) and a bottom portion (liabilities and owners equity).

Accounting Balance Sheet Variations

How a balance sheet is set up depends largely on how the general ledger accounts are set up. Even though there are a lot of similarities within businesses of the same industries, there are a lot of variations between one business and another.

Assets may be separated into current and fixed assets. There could be other asset sub-categories like investments, property, equipment, goodwill and prepaid insurance or prepaid expenses.

Liabilities may be separated by current, long-term, notes payable and deferred expenses, just to name a few. Public corporations can have a multitude of sections for owners equity like different types of stocks, treasury shares, retained earnings and many other sections.

Small Business Sample Balance Sheet

In this sample let's use a auto parts store that is a sole proprietor. This is a simplistic example.

ABC Auto Parts Balance Sheet January 2010

Current Assets

Cash $5,000Accounts Receivable $20,000Inventory $150,000Supplies $2,000Fixed Assets Equipment $15,000Land $10,000Building $80,000Total Assets $282,000


Accounts Payable $63,000Salary Payable $12,000Notes Payable $90,000Taxes Payable $10,000Total Liabilities $175,000

Owners Equity $107,000

Total Liabilities & Owners Equity $282,000

The balance sheet is an important analytical tool to measure the owners net worth. It can also be used to indicate positive and negative trends in assets as well as liabilities. When setting up general ledgers, a certified public accountant (CPA) should be consulted to ensure that owners equity is correctly stated on the balance sheet.

Related Articles:

Accounting 101 Debit and Credit

Understanding how debits and credits work is the first step to learning accounting basics. Learn the steps from journal to general ledger to financial statements.

Accounting 101 Journal to General Ledger

Understanding how journals relate to the general ledger is one of the first steps to learning accounting basics. Learn the steps from journal to general ledger.

Accounting 101 Accounts Receivable

Learn how to post accounts receivable with the sales journal and receipts journal. A basic understanding of the functions of accounts receivable.