Business advisor holds up a document showing financial graphs and reports to show company performance. There is a computer that is ready to use.

Financial analysis examines a company’s industry and economic environment performance to arrive at a decision or recommendation.

What is Financial Analysis?

Evaluating an organization’s financial health and performance requires thoroughly examining its financial statements and other pertinent data. For a business owner, assessing the financial reports (i.e., income, balance sheet, and cash flow statements) is crucial to evaluating profitability and overall financial standing. By utilizing appropriate tools and techniques for data analysis, one can make informed business and investment decisions, gain valuable insights to enhance performance, and forecast future outcomes with greater accuracy.

Business advisor analyzing company financials. Business man and business woman talking to business advisor about the financial plan that they have in their hands on the table.

Small business owners often find it challenging to perform financial analysis due to limited resources or inadequate knowledge of financial statements.

In this article, we provide some tips on how to do a financial analysis. Such an analysis examines a company’s performance within its industry and economic environment, providing valuable insights that can inform strategic decisions and drive growth.

Financial Statement Analysis

Financial planning and analysis involve various techniques. We will initially discuss horizontal assessment and the three essential financial statements.

  • Income Statement
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Statement

With modern financial analytics tools, individuals can effortlessly develop their dashboards. Financial planning is essential for budgeting, business planning, and developing financial models.

Income Statement

Your company’s profit and loss statement, also known as the income statement, displays your revenues and expenses and determines your net income or loss over time. The P&L statement provides insight into your company’s profitability. Business leaders use the P&L to evaluate their capacity to generate profits from operations.

Balance Sheet

At a certain point, the balance sheet displays your organization’s assets, liabilities, and equity, revealing essential details on its liquidity, solvency, and capacity to fulfill financial responsibilities.

Have you ever wondered how to assess your organization’s financial health? One way is to examine its balance sheet, which provides a snapshot of your assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific time. This document can reveal crucial information about your organization’s liquidity, solvency, and ability to meet financial obligations.

Harvard Business School has detailed notes with examples for understanding your income statement and balance sheet.

Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement is a fiscal statement that illustrates the inflow and outflow of cash over some time. It offers valuable insight into how a company manages its money and tracks any changes in its cash position. It presents a clear picture of cash flow management and provides helpful information to companies looking to manage their finances more effectively.

For more resources on financial statement analysis, the Corporate Financial Institute (CFI) offers some helpful tips and templates here. Investopedia also has some good guidance notes available here.

Horizontal Analysis

As your company grows and evolves, it becomes crucial to assess its financial health using horizontal analysis. This involves analyzing critical financial metrics such as revenue, expenses, and net income over some time. By doing so, you can better grasp your company’s financial stability, growth potential, and overall performance. Business leaders can use this data to make well-informed business decisions and drive success.

Ratios Financial Analysis

Understanding financial ratios involves thoroughly analyzing the cash flow statement, balance sheet, and income statement. Business leaders can review financial statement ratios by dividing one statement item by another to understand a company’s financial standing. Suppose you’re looking to interpret these ratios better. In that case, we’ve compiled a list of the most effective techniques to help you gain a better understanding.

Vertical Analysis

Business leaders use vertical analysis, a financial statement analysis method in which every line item is represented as a fraction (percentage) of a base figure within the statement. For example, the P&L or income statement often presents line items as a percentage of gross sales. At the same time, a balance sheet typically defines line items as a percentage of total assets or liabilities. Furthermore, with vertical analysis of a cash flow statement, each cash inflow or outflow can be represented as a percentage of total cash inflows.

Profitability Analysis

Assessing the profitability of a business is a crucial aspect of its financial management. This involves thoroughly examining the profits earned by a company relative to its expenses. By conducting such an analysis, businesses can identify their revenue sources and determine where to cut costs to optimize their profits. Profitability is a measure of the financial gains made by a business about its expenses. Therefore, profitability analysis entails the process of evaluating financial data to determine the profitability of a business. By doing so, companies can identify areas of improvement and optimize their revenue streams while reducing expenses to achieve maximum gains.

Leverage Analysis

When analyzing a company’s financial health, it’s essential to assess its leverage. One way to do this is by calculating the percentage of assets purchased using debt. You can determine the equity-to-assets ratio by subtracting the total debt-to-total-assets ratio from 1. If a company’s debt-to-assets ratio is high, it has relied heavily on leveraging to finance its assets.

This is where leverage analysis comes in. It involves measuring your company’s use of debt to finance its operations and assessing your capacity to meet financial commitments such as debt payments (i.e., loans, credit cards) and other liabilities. By calculating critical leverage ratios like the debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio and interest coverage ratio, you can understand your company’s risk profile and ability to service its debt obligations.

Calculating your D/E Ratio

To calculate your D/E ratio, divide your company’s total debt by its shareholder equity. Total debt includes all short-term and long-term obligations, such as loans, bonds, and other liabilities. Similarly, total equity is the sum of all your company’s common stock, preferred stock, and retained earnings. With these metrics, you can gain significant awareness of your firm’s financial health and make informed decisions about its future.

Growth Rate Analysis

Growth analysis is a valuable tool for evaluating a company’s potential for growth and identifying areas for expansion. By analyzing key growth metrics such as revenue growth, market share, and customer acquisition rates, you can gain insight into whether your business is likely to grow or decline.

The ideal growth rate for a company will depend on several factors, including the type of business, the industry, and the stage of development your company is in. As a general guideline, however, a healthy growth rate should be sustainable for your business. A growth rate between 15% and 25% annually is typically ideal for most companies.

Liquidity Analysis

Liquidity analysis is vital to assessing your company’s capacity to meet its short-term financial obligations. It helps you determine your business’s stability ratios, such as the current, cash, and quick ratios. By examining these ratios, you can measure your company’s ability to pay its bills and avoid financial distress. You can obtain the current ratio by dividing your assets by liabilities. A healthy current ratio falls between 120% and 200%, indicating your business has twice the current assets than liabilities to cover debts.

Focused business woman analyzing financial reports in office. Using a document with charts and graphs. Proficient with a calculator

Financial analysis plays a crucial role in decision-making and the long-term success of a business.

Solvency Analysis

Solvency analysis, such as the debt-to-asset ratio, measures your company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations and withstand economic downturns or other challenges. To calculate the debt-to-asset ratio, divide your company’s total debt, including loans, bonds, and other liabilities, by its total assets, including cash, inventory, property, plant, and equipment.

A solvency ratio assesses a company’s capacity to meet its long-term debts and obligations. The primary solvency ratios are:

  • The debt-to-assets ratio.
  • The interest coverage ratio.
  • The equity ratio.
  • The debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio.

Efficiency Analysis

In today’s competitive business landscape, maximizing efficiency is crucial to drive growth and profitability. A comprehensive analysis of key efficiency ratios, such as asset and inventory turnover ratios, is essential to evaluate how effectively a company utilizes its resources to generate revenue. The asset turnover ratio, which measures the company’s ability to generate revenue per dollar of assets, is a crucial indicator of operational efficiency. A ratio between 0.5 and 2.0 is typically considered standard for most industries. By optimizing efficiency ratios, companies can streamline their operations, reduce costs, and increase profitability, making it a critical component of any investment analysis.

Cash Flow Analysis

As a business owner, it is crucial to understand your company’s cash flow. Cash flow analysis involves analyzing cash inflows and outflows to determine your business’s ability to generate and manage cash flow. It’s essential to note that even if your business is profitable, it doesn’t always mean you have a positive cash flow. Therefore, monitoring your company’s cash flow is necessary to ensure a healthy financial position.

Rates of Return Analysis

Investment returns are a top priority for any business owner. To achieve this, conducting a thorough rate of return analysis is vital, which involves assessing key metrics such as return on investment and return on assets. By examining these metrics, investors and analysts can better understand a company’s financial health and profitability, allowing them to make informed decisions about investing in it.


Analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) to gain a comprehensive view of cash flow performance is critical. Cash Flow Valuation Analysis is a powerful tool that can display KPIs such as internal rate of return (IRR), investment count by type, and a detailed cash flow table. To optimize cash flow management, integrating real-time metrics like cash conversion cycle and working capital ratio can provide valuable insights into cash usage efficiency, enabling companies to make decisions and take necessary actions to optimize their cash position.

Cash Flow Forecasting

Accurate cash flow forecasting is crucial for effective financial planning. Regression analysis is a valuable tool that enables companies to predict future cash flows based on historical data. By analyzing key metrics such as sales, expenses, and cash inflows and outflows, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their cash flow performance and identify areas for improvement to optimize their financial health. Business leaders can ensure financial success and growth with the right tools and techniques.

Valuation Analysis

Determining a company’s worth is crucial; valuation analysis helps you do it. It considers the company’s financial performance and other relevant factors, enabling you to find its value. Using valuation models like the P/E ratio and discounted cash flow analysis, you can determine whether the company’s stock is overvalued or undervalued.

How to calculate the P/E ratio

The P/E ratio is a financial system of measurement that measures the relative value of a company’s stock. A P/E ratio between 10 and 20 is considered reasonable for many companies. It indicates that investors are willing to pay between 10 and 20 times the company’s earnings for each share of stock. This ratio offers insights into the market’s perception of the company’s future earnings potential and overall financial health. Business owners and leaders can leverage these insights to make informed decisions about investing in the company, leading to better returns and growth opportunities.

Scenario and Sensitivity Analysis

Business owners need to prepare and plan for all possible scenarios. Scenario and sensitivity analysis helps you create models for different scenarios and test how changes in critical variables can affect your company’s financial performance. This process allows you to determine your company’s risk exposure and identify potential areas of concern you can address. Doing so lets you make informed decisions and proactively avoid potential risks.

Variance Analysis

When managing finances, variance analysis is crucial in identifying areas where a company may fall short of its budgeted or forecasted results. Analyzing variances helps businesses adjust their financial projections and identify potential areas of concern.

For instance, an actual vs. forecast analysis can compare actual expenses with forecasts for a specific time frame and evaluate the cost trend over time for each expense category. With a modern and integrated financial dashboard, you can easily explore this data in greater detail and extract actionable insights to help you make informed and strategic decisions.

Trend Analysis

By analyzing your company’s financial statements, you can perform trend analysis to spot patterns and trends in your company’s fiscal performance. This can enable you to evaluate your company’s fiscal well-being and anticipate future performance.

Turnover Ratio Analysis

Efficient use of assets to generate revenue is crucial for any business owner. Turnover ratio analysis is an effective method to evaluate the efficiency of your company’s resource management. This analysis involves examining ratios such as accounts receivable and inventory turnover. One can determine inventory turnover by dividing the average inventory for a specified period by the cost of goods sold. While the ideal inventory turnover ratio varies according to industries, a ratio between 5 and 10 is generally reasonable. As a leader, analyzing these ratios can provide valuable insights into your company’s performance and help you identify areas for improvement.

Coverage Analysis

Assessing your company’s financial ability to meet its obligations is crucial to financial management. This process is known as coverage analysis. It involves analyzing various coverage ratios, such as interest coverage ratio (ICR) and debt service coverage ratio, to evaluate your company’s capacity to pay its debts and avoid financial distress. Maximizing profits is crucial for any business, and understanding how to calculate your company’s Interest Coverage Ratio (ICR) can be a powerful tool in achieving this goal.

To calculate EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes), divide your earnings before interest and taxes by interest expenses. This metric helps you gain significant insights into your firm’s financial health and make informed decisions about future investments.

Don’t overlook the importance of monitoring your ICR – it could be the key to unlocking tremendous success for your business. A higher ICR indicates that your company can better meet its interest obligations and has a lower risk of debt default. On the other hand, a company with an ICR below one may struggle to meet its interest payments, indicating a higher risk of debt default. Analyzing these ratios lets you understand your company’s financial position and support strategic decisions to mitigate financial risks.

Enhance Your Finance Analysis Skills

Even if you don’t like numbers, you can enhance your financial analysis skills.

It is crucial to pinpoint the areas that require improvement.

Enhancing your financial analysis skills requires a targeted approach. Identifying the specific areas that need improvement is the first step toward achieving your goals. You may need to improve your communication with the broader team or learn the latest accounting technology. Whatever it is, by focusing your efforts, you can progress the skills you need to succeed as a business leader.

Start with the income statement.

Finance can be challenging if you must be well-versed in numbers as a business leader. However, regardless of where you stand on the organizational chart, it’s essential to understand concepts such as EBITDA and net present value. There are several strategies that you can utilize to increase your financial acumen.

For starters, become familiar with your organization’s income statement.

  • You can do this by reproducing the numbers in a spreadsheet and grouping them into profit and loss categories.
  • Your objective should be to comprehend how much your organization spends and how it generates revenue.
  • Another helpful technique is to play with numbers and experiment with the figures on the balance sheet by running through various “what if” scenarios.
  • This exercise will help you internalize how financial models work.

Achieving expertise in budgeting

As a business owner or leader, understanding the budgeting process is crucial to your company’s financial success. It can provide helpful insights into your financial analysis and help you determine your business’s best action. By creating supporting schedules, you can build a complete Income Statement and Balance Sheet to help you evaluate your financial position. It is essential to assess the value of the first draft and revise it to create a final polished budget. Additionally, flexible budgets can help you evaluate your organizational performance and make informed decisions for your company’s future.

Work with a business coach or financial mentor.

As a business leader, it is advisable to seek out the services of a business coach or financial mentor. This will provide you with the confidence to discuss various financial analysis concepts. Furthermore, establishing a rapport with your organization’s senior financial or operations manager can prove invaluable. This individual can share their expertise and address any inquiries you may have. They can also serve as a valuable resource when contemplating financial decisions.

Learn finance for non-finance people through courses or online training.

You may likely wear many hats to run your business as a business owner. If you lack a finance background, there are numerous courses tailored for non-finance individuals that you can consider attending. Alternatively, online training can help you enhance your financial knowledge and skills. These are helpful resources and tools for non-finance people to learn finance and better understand the financial world.

Leverage technology and financial analysis tools

As a busy business leader, time is always a precious commodity. Finding the time to learn new skills can be difficult, but technology can make it easier. With the help of how-to guides and instructional videos, you can quickly improve your proficiency in using different components of accounting software to support your financial analysis skills. These resources can make your learning journey smoother and more efficient, ultimately helping you attain your goals and succeed in your business.

Business advisor holds up a document showing financial graphs and reports to show company performance. There is a computer that is ready to use.

Financial analysis involves using financial data to assess a company’s performance and recommend how it can improve.

Financial analysis skills are essential for running a business.

Improving your financial analysis skills is crucial to understanding your company’s financial position. The skills required for financial analysis, including metric comprehension and financial statement analysis, are interdependent. By developing and honing these abilities, you can boost your overall proficiency and become more successful and confident in your work. As you continue to improve your financial analysis skills, you will watch your company grow and succeed. Ensure enhancing financial analysis skills for business success.

About Noirwolf

Are you a business leader looking to achieve your financial goals? At Noirwolf, we specialize in teaching management skills to help you build budgets, create a financial plan, and understand your financial statements. Financial literacy is crucial for business success, so we offer coaching services to help you improve your skills. While we may not provide investment advice, we can help you develop growth strategies for your business needs. And the best part? We offer a free consultation to talk about your project, answer any questions you may have, and help you take the first step towards success. So why wait? Let’s connect and grow your business together.

Recent posts.

What is Program Management?

What is Program Management?

Program management is a vital component of organizational success, as it enables the coordinated execution of interdependent projects that yield benefits beyond the scope of individual project management. It involves the judicious application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet specific program requirements. Our experience has demonstrated that organizations with well-developed program management and program management offices (PMOs) consistently outperform those that lack such structures. Therefore, it is imperative that organizations prioritize the establishment of robust program management frameworks to achieve their strategic objectives.

Business Transformation Strategy: A 10-Step Strategy Guide

Business Transformation Strategy: A 10-Step Strategy Guide

Business transformation strategy is a complex and dynamic process that fundamentally restructures an organization’s strategy, processes, and systems. Though each business transformation is unique, several critical steps remain foundational to a successful change management plan. A comprehensive business transformation framework ensures a smooth and practical transformation. This framework should encompass various elements, such as defining the vision and aims of the transformation, assessing the current state of the business, identifying gaps and areas of improvement, developing a roadmap and action plan, implementing the changes, monitoring and measuring progress, and continuously refining the transformation approach as needed.

What is the Change Management Process?

What is the Change Management Process?

Change is the only constant in today’s fast-paced world, and organizations must adapt to stay ahead. Fortunately, change management provides a structured and coordinated approach that enables businesses to move from their current state to a future desirable state. To deliver business value, organizations introduce change through projects, programs, and portfolios. However, introducing change is just the beginning! The real challenge is to embed the change and make it a new normal state for the organization. This calls for implementing the main principles of change management, which we will discuss in this article. Get ready to transform your organization and achieve your desired outcomes by mastering the art of change management!

Happy clients.

Get in touch.

Looking to grow your business but feeling unsure about where to start? Our small business consulting and leadership coaching services are here to help! We'll work with you to scale your operations and achieve your goals. Plus, we offer a free one-hour consultation to ensure we fit your needs correctly. Let's get started!