Income Statement

Subsection of: Creating an Effective Business Plan

Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network

The income statement is where you make a case for your business’ potential to generate cash. This document is where you record revenue, expenses, capital, and cost of goods. The outcome of the combination of these elements demonstrates how much money your business made or will make, or lost or will lose, during the year. An income statement and a cash flow statement differ in that an income statement does not include details of when revenue was collected or expenses paid.

An income statement for a business plan should be broken out by month the first year. The second year can be broken down quarterly, and annually for each year after. Analyze the results of the income statement briefly and include this analysis in your business plan. If your business already exists, include income statements for previous years.


  • As with all financial documents, have your income statement prepared or at least reviewed by a reputable accountant.
  • Avoid insufficiently documented assumptions about your company’s growth. In other words, if you say you expect your firm to grow by 30% in the first year and 50% in the second, you need to document why those numbers are attainable. It can be because similar companies have had this growth path; because the industry is growing at this rate (site the source for this data); or because of projections from a specific market researcher, industry association, or other source.
  • Include effects of seasonality and business cycles in all projections. For example, if you are in the gift business, you would need to show the Christmas buying season or the Wedding season. If you’re a consultant, you might experience higher sales late in the year when companies are trying to use up their annual funds, or at the beginning of the year after budgets are approved.
  • Do not include “projections” that include dates and events already in the past. Old projections are more tolerable if your projections were more right than wrong.
  • Avoid large income or expense categories that are lumped together without backup information about the components.


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