Balance Sheet Explained – A Basic Guide

A balance sheet is one of the three most important financial statements. It provides a crucial insight into how your business is doing financially at a given point in time. This article will take a deep dive into the ins and outs of balance sheets.

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Balance sheet explained 

Simply put, a balance sheet displays a business’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity at any given point in time. A balance sheet provides an overview of what your business owns, what it owes, and the amount invested by its owners. In other words, it summarizes your business’s worth, so you can better understand its financial position. A balance sheet is also known as a statement of financial position. 

Key components of a balance sheet 

A balance sheet has three main parts: assets, liabilities, and shareholder’s equity. In each part, relevant items are listed and they must match the accounts outlined on your chart of accounts. 

Let’s take a closer look at the three components of a balance sheet:

  1. Assets 

The assets section lists everything your business owns that provides economic benefits. The sub-items are arranged in order of liquidity, or how easily they can be converted to cash. 

The assets section is divided into the two following categories: 

Current Assets: Assets that can be turned into cash within one year. Here are some current assets that companies commonly own:

  • Money in a checking and/or savings account
  • Cash equivalents (currency, stocks, and bonds)
  • Accounts receivable (money customers owe when buying products/services on credit)
  • Short-term investments
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Inventory

Non-Current Assets (Long-Term Assets): assets that will take more than one year to be converted to cash. Some examples of non-current assets are:

  • Land and property 
  • Machinery and equipment 
  • Intellectual assets (copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.)
  • Goodwill (value from brand name, customer base, reputation, etc.)
  • Long-term investments 
  1. Liabilities 

Following the assets section are liabilities. Your liabilities are everything that you owe to others. Similar to assets, liabilities are also broken down into current and long-term liabilities.

Current liabilities are debts due within a year. Items are listed in order of their due date. Here are some examples:

  • Rent 
  • Utilities
  • Taxes
  • Short-term loans
  • Accounts payable (money owed when buying goods on credit) 
  • Interest payments

Long-term liabilities have due dates longer than one year. For example:

  • Long-term loans
  • Deferred income taxes
  • Pension fund liabilities.
  1. Equity 

Equity is the last section in a balance sheet. It refers to the money owned by the business owners or shareholders. In other words, equity is your net assets. The most common items belonging to this section are:

  • Capital (money put into the business by the owners)
  • Private or public stock
  • Retained earnings (net earnings to reinvest or pay off debts)

The balance sheet golden rule 

A balance sheet must follow a golden rule or an accounting formula as follows:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

What your business owns always has to be balanced with what it owes plus its equity. This is because your assets either come from your borrowings or your own money. 

What does a balance sheet look like?

Normally, a balance sheet will be divided into two columns: assets on one side and liabilities plus equity on the other. However, it’s not unusual to see a balance sheet looking like a long, endless list. You decide the format most suitable to your business! 

Source: FundNet 
Source: Accounting Guide 

Why is a balance sheet important? 

A balance sheet is an important financial document as it allows you to look at your business’s position in detail. When comparing the current balance sheet to ones in the past, you can analyze and understand your business operations better. Think of it as a regular health check for your company. The balance sheet allows you to make better decisions by giving you an insight into what your business is doing well and what it’s not.

Here are a few financial areas that can be improved by leveraging a balance sheet:

Liquidity 

It’s always challenging for any business to calculate how much cash they have readily available. With the figures on a balance sheet, businesses can work out and analyze critical financial metrics like the current ratio (current assets ÷ current liabilities) or quick ratio ((current assets – inventory) ÷ current liabilities). Interpreting these ratios correctly will help you find the best ways to manage your company’s liquidity.    

Efficiency 

You can determine how efficiently your company uses its assets by comparing your balance sheet with other financial statements. Through calculations and analysis, you’ll be able to determine which areas in the business are generating profits. Then, you can make better plans for future investments or capital allocation.  

Risks

Your balance sheet summarizes how much debt you owe, which can tell you how much financial risk you face. Being aware of your debt situation allows you to make wiser business decisions and avoid potentially damaging events that could lead to bankruptcy. 

Who prepares the balance sheet?

Depending on your business’ size and model, the balance sheet may be prepared by different people. For example, in a small privately-owned business, a bookkeeper will prepare the balance sheet. For a mid-size private firm, their accountants may prepare it first, then have it reviewed by an external accountant. 

Key takeaways 

The balance sheet is an important financial document that you can’t overlook. Understanding what it is, how it works, and how it correlates to the rest of your business are a great advantage for any business owner. 

What’s Shoeboxed?

Shoeboxed is an application that lets you digitize every paper receipt in just a few seconds. Shoeboxed also automatically extracts and categorizes important data from your receipts with human verification

Quick, reliable, and trustworthy, Shoeboxed promises to organize your piles of documents in the best way possible! 
Go paperless for free with Shoeboxed!

Expensify vs Shoeboxed: Which One Is for You?

Whether you’re self-employed or a business owner, choosing the perfect accounting software for your business is very important. There are countless software and apps on the market with various features, pricing, details, and so much more to check. We understand that not all people have time to test dozens of solutions. That’s why we came up with a complete comparison between the top choices for receipt tracking and expense management software: Expensify vs Shoeboxed

An overview: Expensify vs Shoeboxed

1. Cross-platform compatibility

Different people have different needs. Some love iOS, while others are loyal to Android. And there are Windows users, and there are people who like to access things on a browser. This situation is especially true when working as part of a team.

Both Shoeboxed and Expensify are available on Android and iOS platforms. You can also use them in any browser of your choice without any issues. This will help you keep your receipts in sync at all times.

2. Interface

Since most of us use smartphones to scan receipts, the app’s interface is an important part to consider when choosing the right accounting app. Both apps are easy to use with the basic functions displayed right on the portal. The interface is clean and intuitive with a focus on simplicity and speed.

A comparison between Expensify vs Shoeboxed’s interface

3. Main features

The basic functionality remains the same. You scan an expense receipt, and the app will extract the key data such as items, quantity, price. They will also categorize them by vendor, the total amount, date, and payment type. There are various categories to further classify your expenses like Mileage, Groceries, Entertainment, Office Supplies, etc. Then, the apps create a digitized version of the receipt synced with your cloud account. 

Both apps allow you to arrange receipts by trips, create a report, and submit it for approval. Users can also track mileage for business trips with both apps. Additionally, Expensify offers a per diem functionality where an individual is given a daily allowance, and you can use the app to keep track of it on a daily basis.

On the other hand, Shoeboxed has one feature that Expensify lacks. If you have a bunch of receipts and no time to scan them, you can mail them straight to Shoeboxed‘s processing facility for free with our postage-paid Magic Envelope™. Shoeboxed will scan the receipts, turn them into organized and actionable digital data, and upload them to your account. 

This mail-in feature that Shoeboxed offers helps you clear your desk and drawers and bring you up to speed. This unique service is extremely useful for small business owners or freelancers—those who have to handle a lot of work on their own. By doing this, you can free yourself from the paperwork and focus on improving your business’s core value. 


What’s more, Shoeboxed ensures that all your digital receipts are human-verified and audit-ready. You can rest assured that your receipts are legibly scanned, clearly categorized, and accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. This is the best choice for freelancers and business owners when it comes to tax season. 

4. Third-party integration

Both Shoeboxed and Expensify integrate with various third-party apps and software such as Quickbooks, Intuit, and Xero. Expensify also connects with Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Bill.com, Uber, and several other popular services. 

5. Pricing

Pricing is definitely an important factor to consider, especially if you’re looking for a scalable solution.

Shoeboxed offers three primary plans. The Startup plan (for individuals and freelancers) begins at $18/month, allowing you to scan and store up to 900 documents (both physical and digital) per year. If you are a professional or small business owner, go for the Professional plan. With $36 for two users, this plan offers you 3600 documents/month. If you own a business with high volume, the Business plan at $54/month with 7200 documents/month is the most suitable option.

On the other hand, Expensify takes a simpler approach limiting the number of plans available. The individual plan begins at $5/month with no limit on receipts scanning. If you’re working in a team, Expensify offers a $9/user/month plan and a corporate plan that begins at $18/user/month. They also have an enterprise solution customized based on your business’s demands. 

Comparison: Expensify vs Shoeboxed

To help you better visualize the differences between Expensify vs Shoeboxed, we’ve made this handy chart for you: 

ExpensifyShoeboxed
OverviewExpensify is an expense management system for personal and business use. Expensify helps users scan receipts, track expenses, and book travel all in one app.Shoeboxed is the painless solution for freelancers and small business owners to track and digitize their receipts, maximize tax deductions and prepare audit-ready reports.
Platforms supported– Web-based
– iOS
– Android
– Web-based
– iOS
– Android
Language supportedEnglishEnglish
Targeted customers– Freelancers
– Small businesses
– Mid-sized businesses
– Large enterprises
– Freelancers
– Small businesses
– Mid-sized businesses
Customer support– Email
– Phone
– Live support
– Video tutorials
– Phone
– Online
– Video tutorials
Features– One-click receipt scanning
– Credit card import
– Multi-level approval workflows
– Corporate card reconciliation
– Accounting, HR, and travel integrations
– Multi-level coding
– Advanced tax tracking
– Audit and compliance
– Delegated access
– PCI-compliant security
– Automatically identify currency
– Receipt scanning
– Optical Character Recognition
– Human data verification
– Scanned receipts storage
– Receipt search
– Mobile receipts tracking
– Mileage tracking
– Data digitization service
– Gmail receipts archiving
– Business cards management
– Tax filing
– Expense reports
– Multiple international currencies
IntegrationsExpensify integrates with various accounting software as well as HR, travel, and accommodation systems and applications:
– Accounting: Bill.com, FinancialForce, NetSuite, QuickBooks, Sage, Xero, Scan Snap
– Transport: Automatic, Grab, Lyft, Trainline, Uber
– Accommodation: Hotel Engine, HotelTonight, Roomex, TripActions
– Travel Bookings: Flight Sugar, Gallop, Jettly, Lola, Pana, TravelPerk
– Travel: NexTravel, TripActions, Trip Catcher
– Other Integrations: Accelo, Global VATax, PayPal, RevelPOS, Microsoft Dynamics, Financial Force, Workday, TSheets
Shoeboxed integrates with the following third-party solutions:
– QuickBooks
– Xero
– MYOB
– Dropbox
– Evernote
– GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping
– WaveAccounting
– FreshBooks
– OneSaas
– Saasu
– Salesforce
– WorkingPoint
– Bench
– ScanSnap
PricingAlong with the free version, Expensify offers two pricing plans: 
– The Collect plan at $5/user/month
– The Control plan at $18/user/month
Along with the free version, Shoeboxed offers three pricing plans: 
– The Startup plan at $18/month
– The Professional plan at $36/month
– The Business plan at $54/month

In the end, the choice is yours

By comparing the features, integrations, and pricing with your business’s needs, you’ll be able to decide which app is the best fit for your business. Don’t forget to get a free trial before subscribing to experience how the program can benefit you in practical situations.

If you’d like to see more comparisons between Shoeboxed and other accounting apps, let us know in the comments! 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Shoeboxed blog for more engaging stories about entrepreneurship, staying organized, DIY accounting, together with Shoeboxed‘s latest product updates. 

FreshBooks: The Brachiosaurus of Accounting Solutions

The brachiosaurus is the largest known species to have existed on our earth.  They were massive creatures with migratory habits necessary to sustain their large eating habits. With that in mind, it’s the perfect preface to introduce our next featured platform for our accounting solutions Dino Series: FreshBooks.

Brachiosaurus of Accounting Solutions

Freshbooks is the #1 cloud accounting specialist for small business owners, second only to Quickbooks Online in North America. For years FreshBooks has been the ‘big guy’ in online billing and invoicing because of its easy to use functionality, broad-spectrum industry application and out of this world customer service (we can attest firsthand to their great customer service!).

With its heritage in billing, FreshBooks recently began a new and exciting migration route down the path of cloud based accounting solutions.  Their herd of loyal users have taken advantage of the accounting style reports for years and have long described the platform as their preferred choice of accounting solutions, so this new path was no surprise to us. Over the past four years, FreshBooks’ enormous full feature set of tools have uncovered a fresh business trail for this growing company and their 4.5 million users are more than happy to follow this jolly long neck on its newest adventure.

Being the largest creature to ever grace our earth, an adult Brachiosaurus didn’t have any predators (must be nice!). Similarly, it’s pretty tough to find any competition that stacks up against FreshBooks in the invoice/billing world. Their recent product introductions (such as: expense-tracking capabilities, profit and loss statements and more) have already become invaluable assets to their new accounting solutions positioning. Here is what you can expect from our Brachiosaurus friends at FreshBooks:

FreshBooks Strengths:

  • Easy to use and great customer service
  • Easy external collaboration
  • Project and document management
  • Numerous add-ons/integrated sites (like Shoeboxed!)
  • Cloud-based and compatible with multiple devices
  • Completely affordable (most expensive plan is $39.95, excluding add-ons)

FreshBooks Weaknesses:Brachiosaurus of Accounting Solutions

  • Not designed for every kind of business’ accounting needs
  • Isn’t an in-depth/all-in-one accounting solution (BUT integrates with other accounting platforms to fill any gaps)
  • Can get pricey if you need multiple staff members to have access

FreshBooks is best for business owners who:

  • Are in the service industry (lawyers, therapists, plumbers etc.)
  • Are swamped with managing receivables
  • Own small businesses looking to scale
  • Work directly with their accountant and/or other accounting platforms
  • Are freelancers
  • Own a company that outsources a great deal of work to freelancers

With its famously long neck, the Brachiosaurus appeared to have its head in the clouds. But we don’t look at that as a bad thing. In fact, with the future of computing moving more and more into the cloud, FreshBooks is actually leading the way for many small business owners.

Don’t get stuck in the Mesozoic Period when looking at accounting solutions for your business: consider migrating with FreshBooks! You might be pleasantly surprised how helpful its feature set is at helping you with your business’ needs.

Is FreshBooks your preferred choice out of all of the accounting solutions? Tell us what you think in the comments below!