How to Read a P&L (Profit and Loss) Statement

It takes both concept generation and implementation to launch a firm. To make it all happen, you innovate, plan, and then collaborate. That is how a firm is launched. However, another set of abilities, including knowing how to read a profit and loss account, is needed to sustain the firm and support its expansion.

You must be proficient with numbers to handle your company’s finances and maintain operations. To be a successful entrepreneur, you don’t need to be an accounting guru. Knowing the fundamentals is helpful, though.

You may choose to work with experts to guide you through major financial decisions. But you must have sufficient knowledge to comprehend the data your accountants provide. You should be able to get by if you know how to interpret P&L statements, commonly known as income statements. Learn the basics by reading this short manual!

A P&L Statement Is What?

A P&L statement is a crucial financial record that provides information on the state of a company’s finances. Accountants frequently create it so that owners, business owners, and investors may evaluate the health of a company.

P&L: What Does It Mean?

Profit and loss, or P&L, are the main elements that are evaluated in a P&L statement. The easiest way to understand a profit and loss statement is to simply look for a company’s cumulative net income.

What Makes This Financial Statement Unique From Others?

A company’s overall revenue and expenses are detailed in a profit and loss statement over a specific period. Typically monthly, quarterly, or by fiscal year. It is an income statement that details the net profits of a corporation. If the company is profitable or not, you should be able to know from one glance at the profit and loss statement.

The Flow of Cash Statements

The cash flow statement and the balance sheet are two additional crucial financial statements that companies frequently use to report and evaluate their finances. Contrary to the P&L, the cash flow statement is more concerned with the consistent inflow and outflow of cash within the company than it is with net profits.

To make purchases and pay expenses, a company needs to have cash on hand. Even with large net profits, a business with poor or erratic cash flow will experience problems. Especially when invoices are due and there isn’t enough money on hand to cover them.

Balance Sheet vs. Profit and Loss

A balance sheet is meant to report on a certain point in time. As opposed to cash flow statements and P&L statements, which both track financial data across time. It shows the chart of accounts as it is right now.

The balance sheet balances the assets and liabilities of a firm. And provides a detailed account of its present financial situation. It is most beneficial to read the balance sheet and the picture it offers when comparing it to earlier balance sheets.

How Is a Profit and Loss Statement Created?

A profit and loss statement is made up of many different components. You should be able to fully understand your income during the course of the text. Make sure you are acquainted with the lingo used in a P&L report’s common bookkeeping and financial jargon.


Your total revenue should appear on the top line of the P&L statement. This is the total amount of your sales revenue. What sum of money have you earned?

The Expense for Goods Sold (COGS)

The cost of goods sold, or COGS is the next phase. Raw materials and manufacturing expenses are included in COGS.

Gross Income

Subtract COGS from revenue to obtain your overall gross margin of profits. This represents the gross profit from your sales.

Operational Costs

The P&L statement details your operational expenses broken down into different areas after revenue. All of your regular business expenses that are not directly related to the cost of the goods themselves should be included here.

This covers both the direct and indirect costs of running the business. Direct costs are the out-of-pocket expenses for daily operations. Such as COGS supplies and personnel wages. Everything else, such as rental fees, utilities, and insurance payments, is considered an indirect cost.

Various Expenses

Other costs like interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization should be included in profit and loss statements but should be reported individually. Even if these aren’t costs of operation, they nonetheless need to be covered.

The final and most Gross or Net Loss

crucial sum is seen in the P&L statement. This represents your company’s net loss or gain. This means that it consists of your overall revenue less all of your outlays.

Understanding a P&L Statement

A thorough P&L statement could seem overwhelming at first. When a profit and loss statement is just a long list of revenues and expenses, how do you know how to understand it?

It’s important to pay attention to the many categories. Before you dig into the weeds and read the lists themselves, find the summaries of the numbers at the end of each section.

The most important points should also be included at the start and the end of the statement. The very bottom of the P&L statement, after deducting all of your expenses from earnings, will show your net income. The top line of the P&L statement will indicate your total revenue or sales.

When reviewing a P&L statement, you should look for the following sections:

  • Your whole income less the cost of products sold will equal your gross earnings (COGS)
  • Operating costs divided into distinct areas
  • Taxes and interest costs are examples of non-operating costs.
  • Net income after deducting all costs.

The Value of Correctly Reading a P&L Statement

If you don’t know how to read a profit and loss statement, what good is it? A profit and loss statement is a critical source of data for understanding your firm. Your business strategy is only as good as the data it is based on.

The P&L statement’s bottom line will indicate whether or not your business is profitable. You may look at the specifics to determine where you might reduce costs or boost profits once you have a sense of the big picture.

How Bookkeeping Can Be Made Easier With Your Part Time Accountant

You don’t need to be an expert in accounting and bookkeeping to understand how to read a profit and loss statement. It is preferable to have a professional who can analyze your financial status with you.

If you’re unsure of how to read P&L reports or would want a second view, don’t be afraid to seek expert assistance with your small business bookkeeping. Request assistance from a Your Part Time Accountant professional to learn how to evaluate a profit and loss statement and come to better-informed decisions for your business.