The purpose of a financial statement is to enable a business to establish the result of its operations over a period of time and to determine its worth at a specific date. Financial statements are often prepared by business people to assist them in evaluating their financial condition. Sometimes it is necessary to provide specific financial statements at the request of a banker or supplier. Tax returns require a financial statement when a business is involved. Inhouse monthly financial statements can be in any form that is convenient or acceptable to management. When financial statements are provided to outside parties, however, they are required to be in a standard format and follow specific rules of preparation.
A basic set of financial statements will consist of an Income Statement, which shows the profit or loss over a period of time, and a Balance Sheet, which is a summary of the Assets, Liabilities and Equity of the business at a specific date. Sometimes, a Statement of Cash Flows may be prepared, which summarizes the receipts and disbursements of cash during the period. This is often a useful tool for management and owners to see where the cash is really going.