Most business owners don’t dive into entrepreneurship because they are excited about the accounting process, but a basic understanding of accounting sets a successful business apart from those that struggle. Fortunately, many places and people are willing to help you learn, including your accountant, your bookkeeper (if you employ one and don’t do the books yourself), as well as the resources at SCORE.

One of the most important financial documents every business owner needs to understand is the balance sheet.

Your balance sheet helps you understand the relationship between your income and your expenses, so you can maintain profitability. This document will help you become a profit expert in your business because it will allow you to work with your business’ financial numbers to build a workable balance. This incredibly powerful tool not only tells you where you’ve been, but it will help you forecast into the future.

How will the year's operations affect assets, debts and owners’ equity?  For example, if you are planning significant sales growth in the coming year, go through the balance sheet item by item and think about the probable effects of assets.

Technical Tips on Using the Template

1. Your firm's balance sheet no doubt has more lines than this template. For clarity and ease of analysis, we recommend you combine categories to fit into this compressed format.

2. As always for projections, we recommend that you condense your numbers. Most people find it useful to express the values in thousands, rounding to the nearest hundred dollars; for example, $11,459 would be entered as 11.5.

3. In the Fixed Assets section, the "LESS accumulated depreciation" figure is the total of all depreciation accrued over the years on all fixed assets still owned by the company. Be sure to enter it as a negative number so the spreadsheet will subtract it from Total Fixed Assets.

4. In Owners' Equity, "Retained Earnings-Beginning" is retained earnings as of the last historical balance sheet or the end of the last fiscal year. "Retained Earnings-Current" is net profit for the period of the projections, less any owner's draw (for partnerships and proprietorships) or dividends paid (for corporations).

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Balance Sheet Template