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How to Read a Financial Statement Include and What does it tell a Business Leader about a Business?

Daniel Davidson, MD, MBA, DBA, PHD


Financial statements provide important insights that direct strategic decision-making and foster long-term success by acting as a window into the health and performance of a company’s finances. Business executives must be able to read and understand financial accounts in order to evaluate their company’s financial health, pinpoint opportunities for development, and make wise decisions that will maximize performance and accomplish strategic goals. The following article will examine the essential elements of financial statements and the insights they provide into a company.

The Components of Financial Statements:

The balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement are the three primary parts of financial statements. Every element offers distinct perspectives on various facets of an organization’s fiscal status and achievements.

Balance Sheet:

Usually provided at the conclusion of a reporting period, the balance sheet sometimes called the statement of financial position, offers a quick overview of a company’s financial situation. It is divided into three primary sections:


Property, machinery, inventory, and other tangible assets are examples of the company’s assets. Intangible assets include goodwill, patents, and trademarks.


These include debts, accounts payable, and other commitments that the business owes to outside parties. Liabilities are divided into two categories: long-term liabilities (due more than a year from now) and current liabilities (short-term commitments due within a year).

Shareholders’ Equity:

Following the deduction of all obligations, shareholders’ equity is the owners’ claim to the company’s assets. It consists of treasury stock, additional paid-in capital, retained earnings, preferred stock, and common stock.

Assets= Liabilities+Shareholders’ Equity

Income Statement:

An organization’s sales, costs, and net income (or net loss) for a given time period—typically a quarter or a fiscal year—are summarized in the income statement, sometimes referred to as the profit and loss statement. The following elements make up it:


The money received by the firm from its main operations, which include the sale of goods and services, is represented by its revenues. Other forms of income, such as interest or investment income, may also be included in revenues.


Expenses are the costs that a firm incurs in order to operate and generate income. Cost of products sold, operational, interest, tax, and other non-operating expenses are examples of expenses.

Net Income (or Net Loss):

The difference between total revenues and total costs for the reporting period is known as net income (or net loss). Profitability is indicated by a positive net income, whereas a negative net income denotes a net loss.

Cash Flow Statement:

This document lists a company’s cash inflows and outflows for a certain time period. It does this by classifying cash flows into three primary categories:

Operating Activities:

The company’s major business activities, such as sales revenue, supplier payments, and operating expenses, are the subject of cash flows from operating activities.

Investing Activities:

The cash flows resulting from investing activities comprise the cash received and disbursed for the acquisition or disposal of long-term assets, including real estate, machinery, and investments.

Financing Activities:

The company’s cash receipts and payments for financing activities, such as the issuance or purchase of stock, the issuance or repayment of debt, and the payment of dividends, are included in the cash flows from financing activities.

What Financial Statements Tell a Business Leader:

Financial statements offer important insights into the success and health of a company’s finances beyond merely numbers on a page. What financial statements might reveal about a company to a business leader is explained in depth below:

Financial Results: Statement of Income:

Money Generation:

The amount of money the business has brought in during a given time frame is disclosed in the income statement.


Business executives can evaluate a company’s profitability and its capacity to make money from its core activities by comparing revenues and expenses.

Growth Trends:

The company’s growth trajectory and the efficacy of its business strategies can be inferred from trends in revenue and expenses.

Stability of Finances: Balance Sheet:

Asset Structure:

The balance sheet gives a quick overview of the company’s financial resources by listing its assets, which include cash, inventories, real estate, and investments.

Liability Assessment:

It also lists the company’s financial commitments and describes its liabilities, including debts, accounts payable, and other commitments.

Equity Position:

Business executives can evaluate the company’s equity position and overall financial soundness by comparing its assets and liabilities.

Management of Cash Flow: Cash Flow Statement

Operating Activities:

The cash flow statement shows the inflows and outflows of cash from these operations, giving an indication of how well the business can make money from its main lines of activity.

Financing and Investing Activities:

It also provides information on cash flows from financing and investing activities, such as debt repayment, equity issuance, and asset purchases, demonstrating how the business is financing and investing its operations.

Financial Ratios and Analysis: Financial Risk Assessment

Liquidity Ratios:

The quick and current ratios, among others, show how well a corporation can control its liquidity risk and meet short-term obligations.

Debt management:

The company’s debt levels and capacity to manage debt successfully are evaluated using the debt-to-equity ratio, interest coverage ratio, and debt service coverage ratio.

Rats of Profitability:

The profitability and efficiency of the company can be ascertained by looking at its gross profit margin, net profit margin, and return on investment (ROI).

Making decisions: Strategic planning

Resource Allocation:

Strategic decisions about growth objectives, investment prospects, and resource allocation are guided by financial statements.

Cost management:

By analyzing costs and cost structures, one can find areas where costs can be cut and efficiency can be increased.

Performance Evaluation:

To gauge how well business plans and objectives are working, financial statements are a good starting point.


Financial statements are an essential resource that give business executives a thorough grasp of the health, trajectory, and performance of their organization’s finances. Leaders can find chances for development, obtain meaningful insights into their company, and make well-informed decisions to promote growth and success by becoming experts at reading and understanding financial accounts. Financial statements enable executives to handle difficult business challenges with confidence and clarity, ultimately propelling their businesses to new heights of performance and prosperity, whether they are analyzing profitability, evaluating financial stability, managing cash flow, or minimizing risks.

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