Your Income Statement Guide: Examples, Advice 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.

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.

Here’s a quick word from “Accounting Stuff” that explains income statements to beginners:

Why Income Statements are So Important

income statement charts and graphs

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, also known as a profit and loss statement, is a crucial task for businesses of all sizes.

It’s a financial document that records a company’s revenues, expenses, and profitability over a specific time period, giving an overall view of the company’s financial health and operational efficiency. Here’s an expanded look at how you can prepare an income statement:

  1. Gather Financial Data: Start by collecting all of your company’s financial data for the period in question. This includes all revenue sources, such as sales figures and any other income, along with all costs and expenses. For larger companies, this information may be stored in accounting software or financial databases, while smaller businesses may keep track of these numbers in a spreadsheet or even a paper ledger.
  2. Calculate Revenues: Once you’ve collected all relevant data, the first line of the income statement will be the total revenue earned over the period. This includes sales revenues and any other income sources such as investment income or proceeds from asset sales. Make sure to include all forms of revenue when calculating this figure.
  3. Calculate Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This figure represents the direct costs associated with creating the goods or services that your company sells. This includes the cost of raw materials, direct labor costs, and any other direct costs associated with the production process. Deducting COGS from total revenue gives you your gross profit.
  4. Calculate Gross Profit: Gross profit is calculated by subtracting COGS from total revenues. This figure gives a broad view of how much money your company has made from its core operations before other expenses are taken into account.
  5. Calculate SG&A Expenses: Selling, General, and Administrative (SG&A) expenses are the indirect costs of running a business, and can include expenses such as salaries, rent, utilities, office supplies, marketing costs, and more. It’s important to track and record these expenses accurately, as they significantly impact the company’s profitability.
  6. Deduct SG&A from Gross Profit: After calculating the SG&A expenses, deduct them from the gross profit. The resulting figure is known as Operating Income or Operating Profit, representing the profits earned from normal business operations.
  7. Add Interest Expense: If your company has taken out loans or has other forms of debt, you’ll likely have interest expenses. These need to be accounted for on the income statement, and are generally subtracted from the Operating Income to give a figure known as Income Before Taxes (EBT).
  8. Apply Income Tax Expense: Next, calculate the income tax your company owes based on its taxable income. This figure is deducted from the EBT to arrive at the final line on the income statement – the Net Income.
  9. Calculate Net Income: The Net Income represents the company’s total earnings, or net profit, for the period after all costs, expenses, interest, and taxes have been deducted. This is often referred to as the “bottom line” and is a key indicator of the company’s profitability.

Understanding how to prepare an income statement is essential for business owners. This statement not only provides a snapshot of your company’s financial health, but it can also help you make informed decisions about how to increase profitability, cut costs, and drive growth.

Next, let’s look at some income statement examples.

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

Analyzing an income statement, also referred to as a profit and loss statement, is essential for understanding a company’s financial performance and making sound business decisions. The statement provides detailed information about revenues, costs, and expenses, allowing stakeholders to evaluate profitability and identify trends.

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of things, here’s a summary table of the steps.

1.Understanding the Purpose and Structure of the Income Statement: Grasp the objective of an income statement and its structure. This report provides an overview of a company's revenues, expenses, and profits over a particular period.
2.Comparing the Current Annual Income Statement to Past Statements: Compare the present income statement with past statements. This horizontal analysis can help spot trends, growth rates, and any major changes in income, costs, or expenses over time.
3.Analyzing Each Line Item in the Income Statement: Perform a detailed review of each line item on the statement. Look for significant changes or anomalies that could signal an issue requiring further investigation.
4.Calculating Key Financial Ratios: Calculate key financial ratios like gross margin, operating margin, and net profit margin to understand a company's financial performance. These ratios provide insights into how effectively the company is managing its costs and generating profit.
5.Analyzing Non-Operating Items: Review non-operating items like interest expenses, taxes, and one-off items. Understand their impact on the company's net income. For example, a large one-time expense might result in a net loss for the period but may not indicate poor financial performance if the operating profit remains strong.
6.Assessing the Company's Financial Sustainability: After analyzing the income statement, evaluate whether the company's current levels of activity are sustainable. Look at trends in revenues and costs. Compare the company's income statement to its balance sheet and cash flow statement to get a comprehensive view of its financial health and sustainability.

Here’s the comprehensive guide on how to analyze an income statement:

  1. Understanding the Purpose and Structure of the Income Statement: Before diving into analysis, it’s crucial to comprehend the purpose of an income statement and its structure. An income statement provides an overview of a company’s revenues, expenses, and profits over a particular period. It’s structured in a way that starts with revenue, from which costs of goods sold (COGS) are deducted to derive gross profit. Subsequent deductions for operating expenses result in operating profit. After accounting for interest and taxes, we arrive at the net income.
  2. Comparing the Current Annual Income Statement to Past Statements: One of the most effective ways to analyze an income statement is to compare it with past statements. This comparison, known as a horizontal analysis, can help identify trends, growth rates, and any significant changes in income, costs, or expenses over time.
  3. Analyzing Each Line Item in the Income Statement: A thorough analysis involves a detailed review of each line item. Look for substantial changes or anomalies that could indicate an issue that needs further investigation. It might be changes in cost of sales, operating expenses, or perhaps an unusual non-operating expense.
  4. Calculating Key Financial Ratios: Financial ratios are powerful tools for understanding a company’s financial performance and comparing it to industry peers. Ratios like gross margin (Gross Profit/Revenue), operating margin (Operating Profit/Revenue), and net profit margin (Net Income/Revenue) provide insights into how effectively the company is managing its costs and generating profit. Other important ratios might include the current ratio and the quick ratio, which help assess a company’s short-term liquidity.
  5. Analyzing Non-Operating Items: Non-operating items such as interest expenses, taxes, and one-off items can significantly impact a company’s net income. It’s important to evaluate these line items and understand their effects on the company’s profitability. For instance, a significant one-time expense could result in a net loss for the period, but it may not be indicative of poor financial performance if the company’s operating profit remains strong.
  6. Assessing the Company’s Financial Sustainability: After analyzing the income statement, you should have a good understanding of whether the company’s current levels of activity are sustainable. Look at trends in revenues and costs – is the company growing sales faster than expenses? Is the net income trending positively over time? By comparing the company’s income statement to its balance sheet and cash flow statement, you can get a comprehensive view of its financial health and sustainability.

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

cash flow

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.

The Role of Income Statements in Business Decision-Making

Income statements play a crucial role in guiding business decisions. By providing a clear picture of profitability and financial health, these statements enable business owners and managers to make informed decisions about various aspects of their operations.

How Income Statements Influence Business Strategy

  • Resource Allocation: Income statements reveal which areas of a business are most profitable. This insight helps in allocating resources more effectively, ensuring that they are invested in the most lucrative segments of the business.
  • Cost Management: By identifying the major cost drivers in the business, income statements help in strategizing cost-cutting measures without compromising on product or service quality.
  • Pricing Strategies: Understanding the profitability from the income statement helps businesses in setting the right price for their products or services, balancing competitiveness with profitability.

Advanced Analysis Techniques for Income Statements

Advanced analysis of income statements involves going beyond the basic examination of revenues and expenses. It includes techniques like ratio analysis and trend analysis, which provide deeper insights.

Techniques for Deeper Financial Analysis

  • Trend Analysis: This involves comparing income statements over several periods to identify patterns or trends in revenue growth, expense management, and overall profitability.
  • Ratio Analysis: Key financial ratios like the gross profit margin, operating margin, and net profit margin, when calculated from the income statement, provide metrics to compare a company’s performance against industry benchmarks.

Integration with Other Financial Statements

While the income statement is powerful on its own, integrating its data with other financial statements like the balance sheet and cash flow statement can provide a more comprehensive view of a business’s financial health.

Synergizing Financial Data for Comprehensive Insight

  • Income Statement and Balance Sheet: Analyzing these together helps in understanding how the profitability is impacting the company’s assets and liabilities.
  • Income Statement and Cash Flow Statement: This integration shows how the profits are translating into actual cash flows, crucial for assessing the liquidity and operational efficiency of the business.

Mastering Your Income Statement for Business Success

Your income statement is much more than a mere financial record; it is a vital instrument in navigating your business’s future.

By thoroughly understanding and analyzing this key document, you unlock the potential to pinpoint growth opportunities, pinpoint areas for cost-saving, and devise strategies to enhance your financial wellbeing.

Regular review and comprehension of your income statement are crucial for informed decision-making, directly impacting budgeting, forecasting, and strategic planning.

An in-depth knowledge of the various components of your income statement – including each line item, its definition, and practical applications – is fundamental to successful business management.

This understanding forms the backbone of effective budget management and long-term business strategy, guiding you in aligning every financial decision with your overarching business objectives.

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?

key elements of an income statement

The income statement is comprised of four key elements, each contributing vital information to this comprehensive financial report:

  • Revenue: This is the total income a company earns from the sale of goods and services. It serves as the starting point of the income statement.
  • Expenses: These are the costs incurred in the production and delivery of the goods and services sold by the company. This could include costs for raw materials, labor, rent, utilities, and more.
  • Gains: These are increases in a company’s net assets from peripheral or incidental transactions, which are not related to the company’s primary operations. Examples could include profit from selling investments or property.
  • Losses: On the other hand, losses represent decreases in a company’s net assets from peripheral or incidental transactions. Examples could include losses from the sale of investments or property.

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?

income statement and 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.

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Kevin Ocasio Kevin Ocasio is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 2 years. He holds certifications in SEO, digital marketing, and content marketing. Kevin is also certified in Information Technology Technical Support Fundamentals.

One Reaction
  1. Nice article! Especially for seasonal businesses, I have found a rolling twelve-month income statement to be more helpful than a monthly income statement for comparing the current period to previous periods. For example, comparing the twelve months ended 3/31/23 to the twelve months ended 2/28/23 makes much more sense for a landscaper than comparing only March 2023 to only February 2023. Comparing only March to only February is difficult, as February is still a slow month for landscapers, while March is when business starts picking up. When you use the rolling twelve months, it removes seasonality, because each income statement period includes all twelve months.

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