Welcome to the Fit Small Business QuickBooks Online training course! In this lesson, we’re going to cover the importance of reviewing your profit and loss statement and how to prepare a Profit and Loss statement in QuickBooks Online with samples.
To complete this lesson, you can either watch the video below, read through the step-by-step instructions, or do both. Let’s begin!
What is a Profit and Loss Statement?
The Profit and Loss Statement provides a summary of your revenue minus expenses for a specific period of time, such as a month, a quarter, or a year. It tells you your bottom line net profit or net loss.
You may have heard this statement referred to by other names which can make it a bit confusing at times. Some of the other terms used to describe the profit and loss statement are P&L (Profit and Loss), Income Statement, Statement of Earnings, and Statement of Operations.
Why is the Profit and Loss Statement Important?
It’s important to understand if you are making money (profit) or losing money (loss) and why. I don’t know anyone who is in business to lose money. However, if you are losing money, then you want to quickly understand why so that you can turn things around.
I recommend reviewing the profit and loss statement at least on a monthly basis, so you can review revenue and expense trends and know where you stand from a profitability standpoint. Before we talk about how to view your profit and loss statement in QuickBooks Online, it’s important for you to understand the components of the Profit and Loss Statement.
What are the Components of the Profit and Loss Statement? – Profit and Loss Statement Sample
To help demonstrate the components of the profit and loss Statement, we will use a sample profit and loss statement for a fictitious company, Paul’s Plumbing. As indicated below, I have identified 4 sections of the profit and loss statement for Paul’s Plumbing.
Section 1 – Shows the Revenue (Income) earned from the sale of products and services for the designated time period. Paul’s Plumbing had a total revenue of $6,259 for the period January 1 – September 29, 2016.
Section 2 – Shows the cost of producing all the products sold (Cost of Goods Sold) and the Gross Profit, which is the difference between the Revenue (Income) and the Cost of Goods Sold. Paul’s Plumbing had a total cost of goods sold of $1,750 for the period January 1 – September 29, 2016. Total Revenue (Section 1) was $6,259. The difference between these two figures is a Gross Profit of $4,509. Gross profit represents the profit before operating expenses (Section 3) are subtracted.
TIP: Typically, if you do not carry an inventory, then you will not have cost of goods sold on your profit and loss statement.
Section 3 – Shows the Expenses the business has incurred, such as advertising costs. Paul’s Plumbing had total expenses of $2,808.47 for the period of January 1- September 29, 2016.
Section 4 – This section shows the business’ Net Income, sometimes referred to as the “bottom line.” It is the difference between total Revenue (Section 1) and total Expenses (Section 3). Paul’s Plumbing has a Net Income of $2,200.53 for the period January 1- September 29, 2016.
If Revenue exceeds Expenses then the “bottom line” will be a positive number which means that the business was profitable for the specified time period. That is the case here for Paul’s Plumbing and it is what every business strives for.
However, if you are in business long enough, you could have a result where your Expenses exceed your Revenue, which would result in a negative bottom line or a Net Loss. If this does occur, be sure to read the section of this lesson where I provide you with some valuable action items to help you further analyze your income and expenses.
How Do I Run a Profit and Loss Report in QuickBooks Online?
You can run a Profit and Loss Statement in QuickBooks Online in under 2 minutes. Just follow these instructions.
Step 1 – Navigate to the Report Center
From the Home page, click on Reports located on the left menu bar as indicated below.
Step 2 – Report Center
The Profit and Loss Statement is the very first report located under the Recommended Reports menu, as indicated below.
Step 3 – Report Basis
The next screen will only appear the very first time you run a report. In this screen, QuickBooks will allow you to select which report basis you want to use to run your reports. The two options are cash basis or accrual basis accounting. Most small businesses use cash basis accounting because it is simpler than accrual. If you’re not sure which method you should use, ask your accountant, and read more about these two accounting methods in our article Small Business Accounting: Accrual vs. Cash.
Step 4 – Report Filters
From this screen, you have several options to choose from as indicated below.
- Print – You have the ability to print this report.
- Email – You can email this report to anyone that you would like to review it (i.e. your accountant or tax professional)
- Export – You can export this report to Excel and make notes or do further analysis.
- Customize – This feature allows you to customize a number of areas of the report, including but not limited to the following:
- General info: Date range, report basis
- Level of detail to show: One total column or one column for each month
- Header/Footer: Change or add title or page #
- Numbers: Select font for numbers
- Collapse – If you use subaccounts, this button allows you to hide that level of detail.
- Save customizations – Allows you to save any custom changes that you have made to the report so that you can use them again.
- Transaction Date – Select the time period that you would like to run the report for.
- Calendar – You can enter a specific date range that you would like to run the report for.
- Click Run Report button once you have made all of your selections.
Step 5 – Display Report
Click the Finish button, and your Proft and Loss statement will display on the screen like the one below for Paul’s Plumbing.
How Do My Day to Day Business Transactions Affect the Profit and Loss Statement?
In order to solidify how what you do in QuickBooks will impact your financial statements, let’s walk through a common business transaction for Paul’s Plumbing to see how it will impact his Profit and Loss Statement.
Below, Paul has created an Invoice for one of his customers. In our lesson on how to create invoices, we walk you through step by step on how to do this.
Create Invoice to Bill Customer
Paul’s customer has been billed a total of $500 for Plumbing Services.
Receive Payment from Customer for Open Invoice
Paul has entered a payment for the $500 invoice that was created. In the How to receive payments lesson, we walk through step by step how to receive payments and apply them to open invoices.
Impact on Profit and Loss Statement
Notice the following accounts on the Profit and Loss Statement have increased by $500.00, the amount of Paul’s invoice.
- Total Income
- Gross Profit
- Net Operating Income
- Net Income
TIP: If you are on the accrual basis of accounting, the invoice will show up on the Profit and Loss Statement after you create the invoice. For those on the cash basis of accounting, you will have to complete both steps (1) create the invoice and (2) receive the payment to see any changes on the Profit and Loss statement. For more info on cash vs. accrual, ask your accountant, and read our article Small Business Accounting: Accrual vs. Cash .
Recommended Action Plan
You should now have a pretty good understanding of what the Profit and Loss Statement is, how to run a Profit and Loss in QuickBooks, and how important it is to the overall success of your business.
Here are a few processes that I recommend you put in place immediately:
- Be sure all income and expenses are entered into QuickBooks Online as often as possible (at a minimum, each month).
- Review your profit and loss statements on a monthly basis.
- Investigate revenue and expense trends that you notice while reviewing your profit and loss statement. For example, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your revenue consistently going up or down each month? If so, why?
- Are there specific times during the year when revenue drops or spikes? If so, what is the reason for this? Is this normal?
- Are your expenses consistently going up or down each month? If so, why?
- Are there certain times during the year when your expenses go up or down? If so, why?
- Take action based on your findings. Share your Profit and Loss Statement with your accountant and tax professional for more guidance.
That wraps up the section on How to Run a Profit and Loss Statement in QuickBooks Online. The next lesson in our QuickBooks Online Training Course will be How to Run a Balance Sheet report in QuickBooks Online. In this course, we will discuss what the Balance Sheet report will tell you about your business and how to create a Balance Sheet report in QuickBooks Online.
To access this lesson or any of the others in the series, click here. For a free 30-day trial of QuickBooks Online, click the link below.