How To Create a Balance Sheet: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)

Building a balance sheet is an important practice that must be conducted on either a quarterly or monthly basis. This financial statement provides insight into your company’s financial health by detailing your assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity.

Not sure how to create a balance sheet? Below, we’ll delve into the purpose of creating balance sheets (also known as net worth statements) and then provide a step-by-step guide of how to make your own.

Access Ramp's free PDF example and template of the balance sheet in our Accounting Documents Library.

What is a balance sheet?

An accounting balance sheet is a snapshot of your company’s financial situation. Balance sheets help with financial planning and give businesses visibility into company assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. It’s one of the three fundamental financial statements that every business owner needs to have in order to perform financial modeling and accounting—the other two documents being an income statement and cash flow statement.

At its essence, an accounting balance sheet is one of the most accurate ways to analyze the company’s financial position. When fleshed out, a balance sheet can show you:

  • What the business owns
  • What the business owes
  • How much has been invested into the company

As the name suggests, your company’s assets must always be equal to the combined value of your liabilities and equity. Some businesses use hedge accounting to reduce volatility impact in financial statements, however, the sheet must be balanced. If either is out of alignment, your calculations or notations are incorrect. According to Harvard University: “A balance sheet is a financial statement that communicates the so-called ’book value’ [assets - liabilities] of an organization, as calculated by subtracting all of the company’s liabilities and shareholder equity from its total assets.”

What’s the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement?

An income statement, also called a profit and loss (P&L) statement, lists out a company’s revenue streams (such as sales) and expenses (payroll, operating expenses, etc.) over a given period of time.

A balance sheet, on the other hand, covers a company’s assets (cash, outstanding receivables, securities, inventory, etc.) and liabilities (outstanding payables, debt payments, taxes, rent, etc.) at a certain point of time. ‍

These two statements provide complementary information. An income statement tells you a company’s profitability, margins, and revenue over a period of time, while a company’s balance sheet gives you a snapshot of their overall financial health and solvency at a certain point.

The purpose of a balance sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of the company’s financial position at a specific point in time. It’s a critical measurement both internally and externally, but for different reasons:

Internal analysis

Balance sheets help you see whether a business is succeeding or struggling. By analyzing your liquidity position (i.e. cash and receivables), you’ll see whether you can afford upcoming expenses or handle a market shock. Additionally, you can analyze historical trends in your assets and liabilities to ensure your business is running properly, or to identify problem areas quickly. If the numbers don’t look good, it can prompt an internal shift in how you conduct the business.

External evaluation

Balance sheets are a tool that help investors, lenders, stakeholders, and external regulators gauge the financial position of a business, what resources are currently available, and how they were financed. For investors, this can help them see whether or not it would be smart to invest in the company. They can extrapolate upon these numbers to determine other financial performance metrics like debt-to-equity ratio, equity multiplier, profitability, and liquidity. For external auditors, a balance sheet can help them confirm that the company is complying with reporting laws.

What’s on a balance sheet?

Practically every balance sheet boils down to the following equation:

Assets = Liabilities + Shareholder’s equity

In addition, this equation is tied to a particular date, known as the “reporting date.” Although it depends on your business, in most cases, a balance sheet should be prepared and then distributed at least on a quarterly basis, if not monthly. Larger businesses will often create monthly balance sheets, while small businesses or startups typically create them quarterly.

Balance sheets are made up of three key elements:

1. Assets

The asset section of a balance sheet reveals what items of value your business owns. These assets are typically arranged by order of liquidity—in other words, how easily they can be converted into cash. This typically breaks down further into two categories of assets:

Current assets

Assets that could likely be converted into cash within a year. These have various sub categories, including:

  • Cash and cash equivalents – Your most liquid assets—cash, checks, and money kept in your bank account.
  • Accounts receivable – Money your clients owe that will be paid in the near future.
  • Marketable securities – Traded investments that you can easily sell off.
  • Prepaid expenses – Valuables you’ve already paid for such as insurance or rent.
  • Inventory – Equipment, raw materials, and finished products.

Long-term assets

According to Investopedia, long-term assets (also called non liquid or illiquid assets and non-current assets) are defined as “a company's value of property, plant, and equipment that can be used for more than 1 year, minus depreciation.” These include:

  • Fixed assets – Property, buildings, equipment, and machinery.
  • Intangible assets – Nonphysical assets such as patents, copyrights, licenses, and franchise agreements.
  • Long-term securities – Investments that can't be sold off within a year such as bonds or real estate.

2. Liabilities

The liability section of the balance sheet demonstrates what money you currently owe to others, this includes recurring expenses and various forms of debt. Liabilities are broken down into two subcategories. They are either long-term liabilities (also called non-current liabilities) or current liabilities.

  • Current liabilities – Utilities, taxes, rent, accounts payable, and payments toward long-term debt interest such as business loans or credit cards.
  • Long-term liabilities – Bonds payable and long-term debts.

See our guide on how to calculate liabilities for more info.

3. Shareholder’s equity

The shareholder's equity section of the balance sheet shows the value of funds that shareholders have invested in the company as well as retained earnings. For retained earnings, the company must pay out dividends from the net income. Shareholders’ Equity = Total Assets – Total Liabilities.

How to make a balance sheet in 8 steps

Now that you know what’s in a balance sheet, how do you make your own? Follow these steps:

Step 1: Pick the balance sheet date

A balance sheet is meant to show all of your business assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity on a specific day of the year, or within a given period of time. Most companies prepare reports on a quarterly basis, typically on the last day of March, June, September, and December. Companies may also choose to prepare balance sheets on a monthly basis, in which case they would report on the last day of each month.

Step 2: List all of your assets

Once you’ve set a date, your next task is to list out all of your current asset items in separate line items. To make this section more actionable, it’s best to separate them in order of liquidity. More liquid items like cash and accounts receivable go first, whereas illiquid assets like inventory will go last. After listing a current asset, you’ll then need to include your non-current (long-term) ones. Don’t forget to include non-monetary assets as well.

Step 3: Add up all of your assets

After detailing your various asset categories, add them all up. The final tally will then go under the total assets category. To ensure that your numbers are correct, double check this figure against the company’s general ledger.

Step 4: Determine current liabilities

List the current liabilities that are due within a year of the balance sheet date. These include accounts payable, short-term notes payable, and accrued liabilities.

Step 5: Calculate long-term liabilities

List the liabilities that won’t be settled within the year. These include long-term notes, bonds payable, pension plans, and mortgages.

Step 6: Add up liabilities

Add up the current liabilities subtotal with the long-term liabilities subtotal to find your total liabilities.

Step 7: Calculate owner’s equity

Determine your business’ retained earnings and working capital, as well as the total shareholders’ equity. Retained earnings are the business’ profits which are reserved for reinvestments (not distributed as dividends to shareholders). Shareholders’ equity is the combination of share capital plus retained earnings.

Step 8: Add up liabilities and owners’ equity

If your liabilities + equity = assets, you’ve performed the balance correctly. If it doesn’t, you may have to go back and review your work.

Ramp: greater visibility & helping you close books faster

By building your three core financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement) into your calendar, you’ll enjoy greater visibility into your company’s financial future which can help make better business and financial decisions. However, building balance sheets on a quarterly or monthly basis can be a time-consuming process even with accounting software or bookkeeping software.

That’s where Ramp comes in.

Ramp is the only corporate card that can help you streamline the balance sheet creation process and close books faster at the end of the month. This is accomplished thanks to the automated expense management and real-time spend tracking platform built into the card.With Ramp on your team, it’s easier to create a balance sheet and close your books faster.

How To Create a Balance Sheet: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)


How To Create a Balance Sheet: A Step-by-Step Guide? ›

What Is the Balance Sheet Formula? A balance sheet is calculated by balancing a company's assets with its liabilities and equity. The formula is: total assets = total liabilities + total equity. Total assets is calculated as the sum of all short-term, long-term, and other assets.

How do you create a balance sheet step by step? ›

How to make a balance sheet
  1. Invest in accounting software. ...
  2. Create a heading. ...
  3. Use the basic accounting equation to separate each section. ...
  4. Include all of your assets. ...
  5. Create a section for liabilities. ...
  6. Create a section for owner's equity. ...
  7. Add total liabilities to total owner's equity.

How do you solve a balance sheet question? ›

What Is the Balance Sheet Formula? A balance sheet is calculated by balancing a company's assets with its liabilities and equity. The formula is: total assets = total liabilities + total equity. Total assets is calculated as the sum of all short-term, long-term, and other assets.

What is balance sheet answer key? ›

A balance sheet is a financial statement that contains details of a company's assets or liabilities at a specific point in time. It is one of the three core financial statements (income statement and cash flow statement being the other two) used for evaluating the performance of a business.

How do you write a balance sheet example? ›

Balance sheets typically have these three sections:
  1. Assets: Assets are the company's resources, such as office space or equipment.
  2. Liabilities: Liabilities include any debts the company may owe.
  3. Owner's equity: This includes shareholder contributions and company earnings.
Oct 16, 2023

What is a balance sheet for dummies? ›

The balance sheet is broken into two main areas. Assets are on the top or left, and below them or to the right are the company's liabilities and shareholders' equity. A balance sheet is also always in balance, where the value of the assets equals the combined value of the liabilities and shareholders' equity.

What is the formula of balance sheet? ›

The balance sheet is based on the fundamental equation: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. As such, the balance sheet is divided into two sides (or sections).

What is the format of preparing balance sheet? ›

Balance Sheet format is prepared either in Horizontal form or Vertical form. In the Horizontal form of the balance sheet format, assets and liabilities are shown side by side and in the vertical form of the balance sheet, assets, and liabilities are shown vertically.

How to learn balance sheet? ›

A balance sheet reflects the company's position by showing what the company owes and what it owns. You can learn this by looking at the different accounts and their values under assets and liabilities. You can also see that the assets and liabilities are further classified into smaller categories of accounts.

What are the four steps to create a balance sheet? ›

How to create your own balance sheet in 4 easy steps
  1. Step 1: Pick a date and list your assets. The first step in creating a balance sheet is picking the date you are taking a snapshot of. ...
  2. Step 2: List all liabilities. ...
  3. Step 3: Calculate owners' equity. ...
  4. Step 4: Double-check and reconcile.
Dec 21, 2023

What is balance sheet with example? ›

A balance sheet shows the three main accounts (assets, liabilities, and equity) and compares the balances against previous periods. For example, an annual sheet will usually compare current balances to the prior year, and quarterly statements contrast the same quarter from the previous year.

What does a good balance sheet look like? ›

A balance sheet should show you all the assets acquired since the company was born, as well as all the liabilities. It is based on a double-entry accounting system, which ensures that equals the sum of liabilities and equity. In a healthy company, assets will be larger than liabilities, and you will have equity.

What are the golden rules of accounting? ›

Every economic entity must present accurate financial information. To achieve this, the entity must follow three Golden Rules of Accounting: Debit all expenses/Credit all income; Debit receiver/Credit giver; and Debit what comes in/Credit what goes out.

How to read a balance sheet PDF? ›

On the Balance Sheet, Assets are always listed first, followed by Liabilities, and then Shareholder's Equity. In Some financial statements, the Balance Sheet is organized with the Assets on the left side of the page and the Liabilities and Shareholder's Equity on the right side of the page.

What is the main point of the balance sheet? ›

A balance sheet will provide you a quick snapshot of your business's finances - typically at a quarter- or year-end—and provide insights into how much cash or how much debt your company has.

What six steps are followed in preparing a balance sheet? ›

How to prepare a balance sheet in six steps
  • Choose your balance sheet reporting date. ...
  • List out your assets. ...
  • Record your current and long-term liabilities. ...
  • Detail shareholders' equity. ...
  • Format the balance sheet for easy reading. ...
  • Ensure the balance sheet balances.
Feb 21, 2024

How do I create a balance sheet in Excel? ›

Tips for creating a balance sheet in Excel
  1. Use a template. ...
  2. Use the "Borders" button to create guiding lines in your balance sheet. ...
  3. Use Excel's tools to manage your data. ...
  4. Create a trial balance sheet to initially display information and add in an error check sheet.
Feb 3, 2023

Can you make a balance sheet for yourself? ›

A personal balance sheet is something that's important to have in your financial toolbox to help you make sense of your unique situation and grow your wealth. It might sound daunting to build everything from scratch, but it's really as simple as working out your total assets and liabilities.


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