An Easy Guide To Understanding Profit & Loss Statements

What is a profit and loss statement?

A profit and loss statement, also known as an income statement, is a financial document that summarises a company’s revenue, expenses, and net profit over a specified period of time, typically a month or a year. The statement starts with the total revenue earned and then subtracts all operating expenses, such as cost of goods sold, salaries, rent, and utilities.

The final result shows the net profit or loss of the business. This information is useful for management to evaluate the financial performance of the company and make informed decisions to improve its operations and profitability. It is also a required financial statement for investors and lenders to assess the health and stability of the business.

What does a profit and loss statement look like?

The statement typically starts with revenue or sales, followed by the cost of goods sold and any other operating expenses, such as rent, salaries, and utilities. The total expenses are then subtracted from the revenue to determine the net income or profit. The profit and loss statement also includes information about non-operating income and expenses, such as interest earned or taxes owed. This document is crucial for businesses to track their financial performance and make informed decisions about future investments and expenses.

Profit and loss statements are essential to the organisation of business finances.


Sales, also known as revenue, is the total amount of money received by a business for goods or services sold. It is a critical component in a profit and loss statement as it helps to determine the overall financial performance of the company. Sales are typically broken down into categories such as products, services, and online sales.

It is important to note that sales may not always equate to profit as there are many other expenses that must be taken into account such as cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and taxes. A profit and loss statement will show the total sales for a specific period, as well as any changes or fluctuations from the previous period. This information is crucial for understanding the company’s financial health and making informed decisions for future growth and profitability.


Expenses in a profit and loss statement refers to the amount of money spent in running a business. It is an important aspect of the financial statement that provides a snapshot of the company’s financial performance. Expenses are made up of various costs incurred during the operation of a business, such as cost of goods sold, operating expenses, selling expenses, general and administrative expenses, and depreciation. These costs help to determine the net income of a business, as expenses are subtracted from revenue. It is important to understand the components of expenses, as it helps in making informed decisions about where to allocate resources and how to control costs effectively.

Interest incomeUtilities
Dividend incomeSalaries and wages
Investment gainsAdvertising
Service feesSupplies
Product salesInsurance
Rental incomeTaxes
Advertising revenueEquipment maintenance
Commission incomeLegal fees

Note: This is just a sample table, and the actual revenues and expenses of a company can vary greatly depending on their industry and operations.

Reading financial statements can be difficult, check out this Business Kitz blog to learn more.

What is a net profit ?

Net profit is the final financial result of a business operation after all expenses, taxes, and other deductions are taken into account. It represents the amount of money that is left over after paying all of the business’s obligations and is considered an indicator of the business’s financial success. For example, let’s say a business generates $200,000 in revenue and has expenses of $100,000, taxes of $20,000, and depreciation of $10,000. The net profit for this business would be $70,000 ($200,000 – $100,000 – $20,000 – $10,000). This amount can be used to reinvest in the business, pay dividends to shareholders, or pay down debt.

Why is a profit and loss statement so important?

A Profit and Loss (P&L) statement is a financial report that provides an overview of a business’s revenue, expenses, and profit over a specific period of time. It is a crucial tool for evaluating the financial health of a business and helps owners and managers make informed decisions. With a P&L statement, you can monitor your revenue and expenses, identify areas of inefficiency, and measure your profitability.

This information can be used to adjust business strategies, improve cost management, and ultimately increase profitability. P&L statements also play an important role in securing funding and loan approval from financial institutions and investors. In short, having a clear and accurate P&L statement is essential for the success and growth of a business. Without a profit and loss statement, you may lose track on the value of your expenses due to depreciation over time.

Is it a requirement for all companies to use a P&L statement?

No, all companies are not required to use a profit and loss statement. The use of a profit and loss statement, also known as an income statement, is commonly used by businesses to track their financial performance over a specific period of time. However, the requirement to use a profit and loss statement depends on the type and size of the company, as well as the laws and regulations in their jurisdiction.

For example, small sole proprietorships and partnerships may not be required to use a profit and loss statement, while larger corporations and publicly traded companies must prepare and disclose an income statement regularly to comply with financial reporting regulations.

Types of profit and loss statements

Cash method

The cash method is a method used in financial accounting to record transactions based on the actual flow of cash. In this method, the profit and loss statement is recorded when the cash is received or paid. For example, if a company sells goods for $1000, the revenue will be recorded in the profit and loss statement only when the payment is received. This method is simple and straightforward, as it only requires tracking cash inflows and outflows. However, it may not provide an accurate representation of the company’s financial performance as it does not take into account accounts receivable or payable. This method is typically used by small businesses and organisations with a limited number of transactions.

Accrual method

The accrual method in a profit and loss statement refers to the accounting practice of recognizing revenue and expenses when they are incurred, rather than when payment is received or made. This means that even if a sale has not yet been paid for, the revenue from that sale is still recorded in the financial statement. Similarly, expenses are recorded as soon as they are incurred, even if payment has not yet been made.

The accrual method provides a more accurate picture of a company’s financial health, as it takes into account all transactions that have taken place during a specified period, regardless of when payment was made. The accrual method is widely used by businesses and is recognised as the standard method of accounting by most organisations.

Legal advice

A Profit and loss statements is one of the core documents needed to regulate a businesses finances, however, considerations must be made regarding the legality of the business, to ensure the minimisation of liability and risk. Our sister company, Legal Kitz can assist you to ensure you are following the correct process of starting your drop shipping business. To arrange a FREE consultation with one of their highly experienced solicitors, click here today, or contact us at or 1300 988 954. We also offer legal templates on our main website at Business Kitz.

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