Financial Statements Vs. Balance Sheets: What’s the Difference?

Farwah Jafri | August 10 2023

In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of finance, understanding the intricacies of financial reporting is crucial for both businesses and individuals alike. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned investor, or simply seeking to grasp your finances better, the terms “financial statements” and “balance sheets” are likely to have crossed your path. While these two concepts are undeniably fundamental pillars of financial analysis, they often need clarification among those less acquainted with the nuances of accounting and corporate finance.  

This blog post will demystify the difference between financial statements and balance sheets. By shedding light on their distinctive purposes, components, and roles within financial reporting, we aim to equip you with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions, spot potential opportunities, and better comprehend the financial health of businesses and institutions. Whether you’re seeking to decipher annual reports, assess investment opportunities, or manage your budget, understanding the nuances between financial statements and balance sheets is essential to financial literacy. 

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Before we delve into the specifics, it’s worth noting that both financial statements and balance sheets play vital roles in the financial world and are interconnected in the larger realm of accounting. However, each serves a unique purpose and paints a different perspective of an entity’s financial position. So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey on financial statement vs balance sheet together and unlock the mysteries of financial statements and balance sheets, empowering ourselves with the tools to navigate the complexities of finance confidently. 

Financial Statements vs. Balance Sheets 

Financial Statements 

Financial statements are comprehensive records that present a business or organization’s financial performance and position over a specific period. These statements are crucial for stakeholders, including investors, creditors, management, and other interested parties, as they provide valuable insights into the entity’s financial health and performance.  

There are four main types of financial statements:  

1. Balance Sheet (Statement of Financial Position)

This provides a snapshot of an organization’s financial position at a specific point in time. It lists the company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity, clearly indicating what the company owns and owes. 

2. Income Statement (Profit and Loss Statement)

This statement reports the company’s revenues, expenses, and net income or net loss over a period, such as a quarter or a year. It shows how much money the company earned and spent during that time.  

3. Cash Flow Statement

This statement tracks the cash inflows and outflows of a company during a specific period, categorizing them into operating, investing, and financing activities. It shows how the company generates and uses cash over time.  

4. Statement of Changes in Equity (Shareholders’ Equity Statement)

This statement illustrates the changes in shareholders’ equity over a particular period, including items such as net income, dividends, and stock issuances or repurchases.  

The Purpose of Financial Statements

The main purpose of financial statements is to provide relevant and reliable financial information about an entity’s performance and financial position to various stakeholders. These statements help stakeholders make informed decisions, evaluate the company’s profitability and solvency, and assess its ability to generate future cash flows. The statements also play a critical role in comparing the company’s performance with competitors and industry benchmarks.  

Balance Sheet (Statement of Financial Position)

The balance sheet is one of the primary financial statements and provides a snapshot of a company’s financial position at a specific time. It represents the accounting equation: Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders’ Equity.  

Components of a Balance Sheet:

1. Assets

Assets represent everything the company owns or controls that has economic value and is expected to provide future benefits. Assets are categorized into current assets (those expected to be converted to cash or used up within one year) and non-current assets (those with a longer life span).  

2. Liabilities

The company’s obligations or debts to external parties, such as creditors and suppliers. Liabilities are also categorized into current liabilities (obligations due within one year) and non-current liabilities (obligations due beyond one year).  

3. Shareholders’ Equity (or Owner’s Equity)

This represents the residual interest in the company’s assets after deducting liabilities. It includes common stock, additional paid-in capital, retained earnings, and other comprehensive income.  

Purpose of the Balance Sheet

The balance sheet provides crucial information about a company’s financial health, liquidity, and capital structure. It helps stakeholders understand the company’s overall financial position, including its assets’ composition, debt levels, and the amount of capital shareholders invest. Investors and creditors use the balance sheet to assess the company’s ability to meet its short-term and long-term obligations and to gauge its financial stability and risk.  

It’s essential to note that the balance sheet is just one part of a set of financial statements. Together with the income and cash flow statements, these statements offer a comprehensive view of a company’s financial performance and health. Let’s discuss income statement, cash flow statement, changes in equity, comprehensive income, and nonprofit financial statements:  

1. Income Statement (Profit and Loss Statement)

The income statement reports a company’s revenues, expenses, gains, and losses over a specific period. It starts with the company’s total revenues and then deducts the cost of goods sold and operating expenses to arrive at the net income or net loss. The income statement helps assess a company’s profitability and how well it manages its operating costs.  

2. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement shows how cash moves in and out of a company during a specific period. It consists of three sections: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities. Operating activities include cash flows from day-to-day operations, investing activities cover changes in long-term assets and investments, and financing activities involve transactions with shareholders and creditors. The cash flow statement helps evaluate a company’s ability to generate and use cash effectively.  

3. Changes in Equity

The statement of equity changes presents the shareholders’ equity changes during a specific period. It includes net income, dividends, share issuances or repurchases, and other comprehensive income. This statement helps stakeholders understand how the company’s equity has changed.  

4. Comprehensive Income

Comprehensive income is a broader measure of a company’s financial performance that includes all changes in equity during a specific period, not just from traditional net income. It includes unrealized gains or losses on investments, foreign currency translation adjustments, and other comprehensive income items. Comprehensive income is reported in the statement of equity changes and is sometimes disclosed separately.  

5. Nonprofit Financial Statements

Nonprofit organizations also prepare financial statements to communicate their financial activities and results to stakeholders. While they generally follow a similar format as for-profit companies, there are some key differences. Nonprofit financial statements may include a statement of activities (like an income statement) and a statement of financial position (like a balance sheet). The focus of nonprofit financial statements is on program expenses, contributions, and the organization’s ability to carry out its mission rather than on profitability.  


To know the differences between financial statement vs balance sheet are essential for understanding a company or organization’s financial health and performance. The balance sheet provides a snapshot of the company’s financial position, while the income statement, cash flow statement, and changes in equity offer insights into its financial performance over time. Nonprofit financial statements serve a similar purpose for nonprofit organizations but emphasize their mission-driven activities rather than profitability.  

Also Read: How to Read And Understand the Balance Sheet

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Author Bio

Farwah is the Product Owner of Monily. She has an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, UK. She is passionate about helping businesses overcome challenges that hamper their growth, which is why she is working at Monily to facilitate entrepreneurs to efficiently manage business finances and stay focused on growth.