Your Income Statement Guide: Examples, Guidance, and Definitions

    Having a solid understanding of your income statement is one of the most important steps you can take as a business owner. This guide provides detailed examples, guidance, and definitions to help you understand how to accurately create an income statement for your business. By reading this guide, you’ll learn what information should go in your income statement, how to read and interpret it, and how to use it in the future. Let’s get started!

    What is an Income Statement?

    An income statement, which is a part of financial accounting and also known as a profit and loss statement, is a document that provides information about the profitability of a business. It reports the revenues generated in a given period of time, as well as the expenses incurred in order to generate those revenues. The difference between the two is known as net income or profit. As an important part of your overall financial statements, the income statement helps you assess how well your business is doing and make decisions about how to improve it going forward. An income statement, along with a business plan, are important documents for obtaining financing. Make sure to research how to write a business plan and what is financial accounting as you prepare your income statement.

    What are Income Statements Used for?

    Having an understanding of your income statement is essential for any business owner. Income statements are used for a variety of purposes, including tracking income and expenses, making budget forecasts, calculating taxes, and gauging profitability. The following are the five main uses of an income statement:

    Tracking Income and Expenses. The most basic use of an income statement is to track the amount of income generated in comparison to the costs incurred to generate that revenue. This enables you to gain a better understanding of how your business is performing financially and identify areas where improvements can be made.
    Making Budget Forecasts. An income statement can also be used to create budget forecasts for the upcoming year. This allows you to plan ahead for potential revenue streams as well as anticipate expenses and costs associated with those revenues.
    Calculating Taxes. Your income statement will also be used by the IRS when it comes time to file taxes for your business. Providing detailed information about your total profits or losses makes tax calculations much easier and more accurate.
    Gauging Profitability. An income statement provides key insight into how profitable your business has been over a certain period of time by comparing total revenues against total expenses. This information can then be used to make changes in order to improve profitability going forward.
    Assessing Performance. Lastly, an income statement can help you assess overall performance within the company by evaluating how efficient each department or individual is at generating revenues or cutting costs within your organization structure.

    Why Income Statements are So Important

    Having an understanding of your income statement is essential for any business owner. Here are four reasons why income statements are so important:

    Measuring Performance. An income statement provides key insights into how well you’ve been performing financially over a given period of time. By comparing total revenues against total expenses, you can see whether or not you’re achieving your goals and make changes as needed to improve your results moving forward.
    Assessing Growth. Income statements also help you measure the growth and sustainability of your business by providing detailed information about revenue streams, costs, and profits over the course of a year or more. This enables you to assess the health of your company in order to make wiser decisions when it comes time to reinvest in new products or services and expand markets.
    Reducing Risk. An income statement also helps reduce risk by providing accurate data about where money is being spent as well as which areas are generating the most profit or incurring losses. This helps you avoid making costly mistakes or investing in areas that may not yield a return on investment down the road.
    Planning Ahead. Lastly, income statements enable businesses to plan ahead by providing detailed financial information that can be used to create reliable budget forecasts for upcoming years as well as anticipate potential costs associated with those projects or investments before they occur.

    What Goes on an Income Statement? The Main Components

    When preparing an income statement, you need to include several key components. These components will help provide insight into your company’s financial performance by providing detailed information on revenue, expenses, and net income. Here is a list of the main components that go on an income statement:


    Revenue is the total amount of money earned from the sale of goods or services for a given period of time. It includes sales from products and services as well as any other source of income such as interest and dividends.

    Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

    Costs of goods sold (COGS) include expenses directly related to producing a product or providing a service. This includes costs such as materials, labor, shipping, and taxes associated with production.

    Gross Profit

    Gross profit is the total amount of money earned after COGS has been deducted from the total revenue. It’s a measure of how much money is left over after production costs have been covered.

    Marketing, Advertising, and Promotion Expenses

    Marketing, advertising, and promotion expenses are costs associated with promoting a product or service. This includes any money spent on advertising, paid search campaigns, website design and hosting, public relations services, and other promotional activities.

    General and Administrative Operating Expenses

    General and administrative expenses are costs associated with running a business. This includes wages, rent, utilities, insurance premiums, legal fees, and other costs incurred during the course of operations.


    EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It’s a measure of the operating performance of a business that excludes non-operating expenses such as debt payments and taxes. It’s calculated by subtracting total operating expenses from total revenue.

    Depreciation and Amortization Expenses

    Depreciation and amortization are non-cash expenses that account for the decrease in the value of long-term assets such as equipment, buildings, and furniture.

    Operating Income or EBIT

    Operating income or EBIT stands for earnings before interest and taxes. It’s calculated by subtracting total operating expenses from total revenue, excluding non-operating items such as depreciation and amortization. This is a measure of the company’s operating performance from its core business operations.

    Interest Expense

    If you’ve ever researched how to get a small business loan, then you know interest expense is the cost of borrowing funds from lenders. This includes interest payments made on loans and other debts.

    Income Tax Expense

    Income taxes are the amount of money a business pays in taxes based on its profits. This includes any applicable federal, state, and local taxes that must be paid.

    Other Expenses

    Other expenses include any additional costs that are not part of the main components listed above. This can include things like bad debt expenses and one-time costs.

    Net Income

    Net income is the end result after subtracting all operating expenses from revenue and adding any non-operating income. This is also referred to as net profit or loss depending on whether it is positive or negative.

    How to Prepare an Income Statement

    Preparing an income statement is a critical part of running a successful business. An income statement shows how much revenue and profit a company earns over a period of time as well as the expenses it incurs in order to make that revenue. Here’s how you can prepare one:

    Gather Financial Data: This includes sales figures, costs, and expenses incurred by the company over the period in question.
    Calculate Revenues: Once all data has been gathered, use it to calculate total sales revenues for the period.
    Calculate Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This is the direct cost associated with producing goods or providing services to customers during that period of time.
    Calculate Gross Profit: Subtract COGS from Sales Revenues to arrive at Gross Profit for the period.
    Calculate SG&A Expenses: These are expenses not directly related to producing or selling goods or services like rent, insurance, and office supplies that are incurred over the same period of time.
    Deduct SG&A from Gross Profit: A simple subtraction will yield Operating Income (also known as Operating Profit).
    Add Interest Expense: Interest payments on loans taken out by a company should be added back in to arrive at Income Before Taxes (EBT).
    Apply Income Tax Expense: Calculate taxes due based on profits earned during the period and add that figure to the EBT figure to arrive at Net Income.

    Income Statement Examples

    If you’re looking to get a better understanding of what an income statement looks like, studying examples can be very helpful. Here are examples of two different types of income statements:

    Single-step Income Statement Example

    A single-step income statement presents all of a company’s revenues and expenses as one lump sum. It doesn’t provide separate line items for operating, nonoperating or extraordinary items, so it provides only a basic overview of the company’s financial performance.


    Multi-step Income Statement Example

    A multi-step income statement presents revenues and expenses in separate line items for operating, nonoperating or extraordinary items. This kind of statement provides a more detailed view of the company’s financial performance, as it breaks down each category of revenue and expense.


    How to Analyze an Income Statement

    Analyzing an income statement is a key component of financial analysis when assessing the performance of a company. Here are some steps to help you analyze an income statement:

    Understand the purpose and structure of the income statement.
    Compare the current annual income statement to past statements.
    Analyze each line item in the income statement and take note of any significant changes from past statements.
    Calculate key financial ratios, such as gross margin and operating margin, to understand important trends over time.
    Analyze non-operating items and their impact on profits or losses for the period being evaluated.
    Use your analysis to assess whether or not the company is sustainable in terms of profitability and cash flow at its current levels of activity.

    Leveraging Technology Tools and Software Solutions

    Tools such as spreadsheets, accounting software, and financial analysis tools can be used to help analyze an income statement and understand a company’s financial performance. Spreadsheets allow users to manipulate data by creating balance sheets and income statements that visualize the data in multiple formats, making it easier to identify trends over time. Accounting software automates processes such as tracking expenses, generating invoices, and entering journal entries, which helps streamline the analysis process. Finally, financial analysis tools provide sophisticated charting capabilities for visualizing key financial ratios such as operating margin or return on assets.

    Other Financial Statements

    Inevitably, understanding a company’s financial performance requires analysis of more than just the income statement. Analyzing other key financial statements such as the balance sheet and statement of cash flows can also provide valuable insights into a company’s overall financial situation. Be sure to research what is a cash flow statement and what is a balance sheet to improve the accuracy of your analysis and get the most complete picture of a company’s financial standing.

    Income Statement Vs. Balance Sheet

    The income statement and balance sheet are two of the main financial statements used by businesses to report on their performance. The income statement reports a company’s revenues, expenses, and net profits or losses over a specified period. The balance sheet, on the other hand, provides an overview of the company’s financial position at a given moment in time. It lists assets and liabilities as well as equity. Both statements provide important information for understanding the overall financial health of a business.

    Using Your Income Statement to Create a Financial Plan

    Creating a financial plan using your income statement is an important step in planning for future success. By analyzing your income statement, you can identify opportunities for increasing revenue and reducing expenses. This will help you identify areas that need improvement and help you manage cash flow more efficiently. Furthermore, having a clear understanding of your financials before making decisions helps reduce risk and ensure that the decisions you make are beneficial to the long-term success of your business. Financial planning is important because it allows businesses to set goals, measure progress and make necessary changes to reach those goals.

    Final Words

    Understanding your income statement is a key part of successful business management. Having an understanding of the various line items that make up this document, their definitions, and examples of how to use them can help you make informed decisions regarding budgeting, forecasting, and long-term planning. Using this guide of small business finance tips, business owners can get started on the path toward improved financial performance. Make sure to hire an accountant to help you accurately track and report your financials if you feel it can benefit your business.

    What Are the Four Key Elements of an Income Statement?

    The four key elements of an income statement include revenue, expenses, gains, and losses. Revenue is the total income earned from the sale of goods and services. Expenses are the costs associated with producing those goods and services. Gains are increases in net assets from transactions such as selling investments or property and losses represent decreases in net assets resulting from transactions such as buying investments or property. The difference between revenue, expenses, gains, and losses determines the company’s overall profit or loss for the reporting period.

    What is a common-size income statement?

    A common-size income statement is a type of financial statement that displays all the items in an income statement as percentages of sales or total revenue. Common-size statements are useful for comparing results between different years or across different companies, by providing an easy way to compare the size of each item to total revenue. The common-size statement shows easily how expenses, such as cost of goods sold, salaries, and other operating costs change relative to sales or total revenue. Analysts can use this information to identify changes and trends over time and make strategic decisions based on their findings.

    Are there different types of income statements?

    Yes, there are different types of income statements. The most common type is the single-step income statement, which combines all expenses into one line item. A multiple-step income statement is more detailed and breaks out each type of expense into separate line items. This type of income statement can be used to identify areas where cost-cutting can be done or to analyze trends over time. A common-size income statement also displays all the line items as percentages so that users can compare financial results between different years or companies more easily.

    What is the income statement formula?

    The income statement formula is used to calculate the net income or net loss of a business. It is calculated by subtracting total expenses from total revenues. Total revenues include all sources of income, while total expenses include both operating and non-operating costs. Operating expenses are related directly to the operations of the business, such as the cost of goods sold, wages, and taxes. Non-operating expenses are unrelated to the operations of the business, such as interest expenses or gains and losses on investments. The result is either a positive net income or a negative net loss which is then reported on the income statement.

    What Is the Difference Between Operating Revenue and Non-Operating Revenue?

    Operating revenue is income generated by the core activities of a business, such as sales of goods or services. Non-operating revenue is income not related to the day-to-day operations of the business and includes items such as interest income and gains on investments. The difference between operating and non-operating revenue is important for both tax purposes and in understanding the total financial picture of a business. Operating revenues are subject to most taxes, while non-operating revenue may be excluded from taxable income in certain circumstances. Knowing exactly what your business earns in each category can help you manage and optimize your financial performance.

    What Insights Should You Look for in an Income Statement?

    An income statement is a financial document that provides important insight into the overall health of a business. It lists both revenues and expenses in order to provide a comprehensive view of net income or loss. When reviewing an income statement, you should look for key metrics such as total revenue and total expenses, as well as gross profit and operating margin. You can also gain insights into the company’s cost structure by looking at what percentages of total revenue have been spent on each expense category. By understanding these key metrics, you can assess how profitable a business is and make informed decisions about its future operations. A net worth calculator can also provide valuable insights into the financial health of a business.

    Image: Envato Elements

    This article, “Your Income Statement Guide: Examples, Guidance, and Definitions” was first published on Small Business Trends