Debitoor's accounting dictionary
Owner’s equity

Owner’s equity - What is owner’s equity?

Owner’s equity is the total value of a company’s assets that belong to an owner once the liabilities have been settled

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Owner’s equity is generally considered one of the three main aspects of a company’s finances, as it is part of the accounting equation: Owner’s Equity = Assets - Liabilities. This equation is most commonly associated with sole traders. More generally, it is the financial ownership of the business.

Owner’s equity and the accounting equation

Used in this way, the accounting equation provides a method for determining the total amount of the business that belongs directly to the owner (or shareholder in the case of a limited company).

The accounting equation shows how the owner of a business would determine the owner’s equity - by subtracting the business’ total liabilities from its total assets. In many cases, especially as a sole trader, owner’s equity is the total amount of money that the owner has invested in the business (after removing any losses or owner withdrawals).

Owner’s equity and financial reports

Owner’s equity can come from a number of different sources. For example, it is often comprised of direct investments of capital by the owner. It can also include assets that are not cash but carry value for the business.

Owner’s equity appears on the balance sheet, which breaks down all of the assets and liabilities held by a business. Because it is affected by investments into and withdrawals from the business, owner’s equity is changing constantly.

Typically, owner’s equity is broken down into different sections on the balance sheet:

  • Retained earnings: the total amount from the current fiscal period minus any dividends
  • Subscribed capital: the current amount of capital the business
  • Dividends: in the case of shareholder involvement

These will be combined in order to determine the total equity.

Owner’s equity example

Cheryl started an all-natural soap and beauty products business last year. She invested £6,000 to get started and made a total of £24,000 at the end of her first financial year. However, she also withdrew £8,000 from her business.

The owner’s equity for Cheryl’s business is then the investment (£6,000) plus the profit (£24,000) minus the liabilities or withdrawal in this case (£8,000). So Cheryl’s owner’s equity is £22,000 (£6,000 + £24,000 - £8,000).

Owner’s equity and your business

Owner’s equity will change constantly. In order to see owner’s equity grow, continued investments are usually required and/or an increase in profits. Growth in owner’s equity can be seen in increased productivity and sales, especially when combined with lower expenses.

Business owners should be aware of the impact of their decisions on owner’s equity. For example, it is possible to have a negative amount as owner’s equity if an owner has withdrawn a higher amount than they have invested.

Negative owner’s equity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because owner’s equity is changeable, factors such as the depreciation of assets can impact the numbers of a given period.

When owners make withdrawals, the amounts are considered capital gains and so can be subject to capital gains tax.

Debitoor and owner’s equity

The easiest way to keep track of owner’s equity is to record any investments, assets, and owner withdrawal all in one place where you can easily use the data to generate financial reports such as the balance sheet with just a click.

Accounting and invoicing software like Debitoor makes it easy to stay on top of the profits, expenses, investments and withdrawals from a business, whether you’re in the office or out and about thanks to the iPhone and Android mobile apps.

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