Income Statement vs. Profit and Loss: What is The Difference?

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Keeping up with the paperwork required for managing finances can be overwhelming for start-ups and small businesses. Income statements are no exception; without a clear understanding of their purpose and how they differ from other documents like profit and loss statements, it’s easy to make mistakes that lead to incomplete financial pictures. But what is the difference between the income statement and the profit and loss account?

In this guide, we will explore the subtle differences between these documents and examine how they can help small business owners better manage their business’s financial health.

Key Takeaways

  • The terms “Income Statement” and “Profit & Loss Statement” are often used interchangeably. Both refer to a financial report that shows a company’s revenues and expenses, allowing management to assess its performance over a given period or the entire accounting period.
  • Income statements provide business owners with the necessary data to make informed decisions about normal operations or investments and ultimately measure the success of a company. This is especially useful for cost reduction while boosting profitability.
  • The Cash Flow Statement looks at the movement of cash over a time period, while Balance sheets list all assets and liabilities owned by the business. Together, they provide essential information about a company’s financial situation.

Income Statement: Core Part of Financial Statement

Income statements are one of the most important financial statements that outline the company’s ability to generate company’s income and profits. It is one of the four primary financial statements businesses use to measure their financial performance at a specific point. It shows the revenue, expenses, and net income or losses during a particular time frame.

The formula used in the Income Statement

Net Income = (Revenues + Gains) – (Expenses + Losses) 

In this formula:

  • Revenues include all the money earned from sales/services, investments, and other sources (company’s income).
  • Gains: refer to any profits made from investments or asset transactions
  • Expenses: Total expenses are costs incurred for normal business operations, such as the cost of products purchased, labor costs, advertising, depreciation, etc
  • Losses: refer to any expenses that exceed total revenues, such as interest paid on loan or decreased value of the company’s assets.

Knowing your company’s financial position through an income statement can help you make informed decisions about allocating resources and managing finances efficiently. In addition, you should use gross margin ratios to compare the business’s financial performance over different periods.

This is especially useful for companies trying to reduce operating expenses while maintaining profitability. Income statements give business owners the necessary information when it comes to making business decisions about normal business operations or investments and eventually determining the success or failure of a company.

Profit and Loss Statement: Key Factor of Business’s Financial Performance

A profit and Loss statement is a critical factor in determining the financial position of any business. It measures a company’s earnings, business expenses, and net profit or loss in a given period.

A profit & Loss can be beneficial to small businesses and start-ups in determining a company’s financial health when allocating resources, company management, and planning future growth.

Example of Profit and Loss Statement

For a more specific illustration, you can take a look at Apple’s Profit and Loss Statement in 2022 right below:


In the 2022 fiscal year, Apple’s products and services are anticipated to bring in more than USD 394 billion in net sales.

Once operating expenses (research and development, selling, general and administrative expenses) and interest expenses have been deducted, income taxes of $19,300 will be subtracted from gross profit to give the final net profit, also net earnings on the profit and loss statement.

By analyzing these financial statements – measuring the ability to generate profit over a specific period, company management can gain valuable insight into how their business is performing over time and make informed decisions on how to allocate funds in the future.

Income Statement vs. Profit and Loss: What is the Difference?


The terms “Income Statement” and “Profit & Loss Statement” are often used interchangeably and refer to the same thing. A profit & loss or Income statement is a financial report that shows a company’s revenues and expenses in a specified period or the whole accounting period, allowing company management to assess its performance.

Other Statements That Small Businesses Should Know

Besides the income statement (also the P&L statement), there are other financial statements that small business owners should take advantage of if they want to gain valuable insights into their finances.

The first statement among these is the Cash Flow Statement, which looks at the movement of cash over a time period and whether there is an increase or decrease in available funds.

Balance sheets can also provide essential information about a company’s financial situation. These documents list all assets and liabilities owned by the business.

Both offer small business owners valuable insight into where their money is coming from and going.  Knowing this information can help them make better decisions regarding investing or expanding their businesses.

Cash Flow Statement: Is It Different from an Income Statement?

Cash Flow Statements differ from Income Statements (also P&L statements) because they focus on changes in cash holdings instead of total revenue or expenses.

They will also show any non-cash activities that affect the company’s finances, such as depreciation or taxes owed.

Balance Sheet: What are the Chances for Business?

In addition, the balance sheet shows a clear picture of financial health by showing assets, total liabilities, and shareholder equity from closing stock.

Assets are items owned by the company, such as cash, inventory, and equipment, while liabilities are debts owed to creditors or vendors.

By analyzing these figures with its income statement, business owners can determine the amount of money coming into and out of business over time.

You can use the balance sheet to better manage your finances through improved pricing strategies, cost-cutting measures, and increased efficiency.

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