How to Review Your Profit and Loss Statement

November 15, 2023

Reviewing your profit and loss (P&L) statement is crucial for understanding the financial performance of your business over a specific period. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you review your P&L statement effectively:

  1. Understand the Basics:

    • The P&L statement, also known as the income statement, summarizes your revenue, costs, and expenses over a specific period.
    • It shows whether your business is making a profit or incurring a loss during that time.
  2. Review the Time Frame:

    • Identify the time period covered by the statement. Common intervals include monthly, quarterly, or annually.
  3. Revenue Section:

    • Look at the top of the statement, where the revenue (or sales) is listed. This section includes all income generated from your primary business activities.
    • Ensure that the revenue figures align with your sales records.
  4. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS):

    • Directly below the revenue section, you'll find the cost of goods sold. This includes expenses directly associated with producing goods or services.
    • Check that these costs are reasonable and consistent with your business operations.
  5. Gross Profit:

    • Calculate the gross profit by subtracting COGS from revenue. This figure represents the basic profitability of your core business activities.
  6. Operating Expenses:

    • Review the operating expenses section, which includes items like rent, utilities, salaries, marketing, and administrative costs.
    • Ensure that these expenses are in line with your budget and expectations.
  7. Operating Income:

    • Subtract total operating expenses from gross profit to calculate operating income. This figure indicates the profitability of your core business operations.
  8. Other Income and Expenses:

    • Some P&L statements include a section for other income and expenses, such as interest income or interest expenses. Ensure these are accurate and reflect your financial activities.
  9. Net Income Before Taxes:

    • Subtract other income and expenses from operating income to calculate net income before taxes.
  10. Taxes:

    • Identify the provision for income taxes. The final section usually deducts taxes from net income before taxes to arrive at the net income figure.
  11. Net Income:

    • The bottom line of the P&L statement is the net income, which represents the profit or loss after all expenses and taxes.
    • A positive net income indicates a profit, while a negative figure signals a loss.
  12. Compare to Previous Periods:

    • Compare the current P&L statement with those from previous periods to identify trends and changes.
  13. Ratio Analysis:

    • Calculate and analyze key financial ratios, such as gross profit margin, operating profit margin, and net profit margin, to gain insights into your business's efficiency and profitability.
  14. Seek Professional Advice:

    • If you find anything confusing or need a more in-depth analysis, consider consulting with a financial advisor or accountant.

By following these steps, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your profit and loss statement and make informed decisions to improve your business's financial performance.

You've got this! 

Alicia Fowler