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Owner’s Equity Guide: Definition, Calculation, & Statement


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owner's equity guide

Running your business means investing time, energy, and capital. However, when you look at your financial statements, there isn’t a line item that indicates what you contributed to both start and keep your business running. Or is there? Today, let’s dive into this owner’s equity guide and learn how it translates your investment into the financials of your business.


What is Owner’s Equity?

To understand what owner’s equity is, we first need to understand what equity means in a business. Fundamentally, the dollar value of your business is considered its equity. If your business is a corporation, then you would see a line on your balance sheet that refers to “stockholders’ equity.”

However, for most small businesses, the term “owner’s equity” is used. As owners reinvest the profits of their business back into the business or invest additional capital to expand, that is their owner’s equity grows because the value of their business is also increasing.

To define owner’s equity, you need to take the amount of money invested into the business and subtract any liabilities. The owner would have the right to the assets or cash from the sale of those assets. You might also see it referred to as the net worth or net assets of the business.


What’s Included in Owner’s Equity?

Owner’s equity is the amount of the business assets that belong to you as a business owner. There are a number of assets that can fall into this category, which include the following:

  • Money invested by you, as the owner
  • Profits made by the business since its inception
  • Business assets, which include anything the business owns of value
  • Net income
  • Owner withdrawals
  • Liabilities


Is Owner’s Equity an Asset?

owner's equity guide


Owner’s equity is the portion of a company’s assets that you can claim as the owner. Therefore, owner’s equity is not an asset itself but rather a part of the total assets that can be claimed by the owners and shareholders.


Types of Equity and Their Differences

There are multiple types of equity that a business can possess, but each one depends on the role of the individual who can claim that equity. With that in mind, let’s dive into the different types and what they mean for your business.


Shareholder Equity

If your company is a corporation, then you will have shareholder equity. It is the company’s net worth and is equal to the total dollar amount that would be returned to the shareholders if the company must be liquidated and all debts paid off.

Stock investors and analysts look at shareholder equity during their evaluation of a company’s overall financial health. Retained earnings are also part of shareholder equity, along with any capital invested into the company.


Private Equity

While shareholders have access to a company’s equity, private equity is the ownership or interest in an entity that is not publicly listed or traded. This private equity comes from firms that purchase stakes in private companies or acquire control of public companies with the goal of taking them private and delisting them from stock exchanges. Obviously, the goal of private equity is to pursue a high return on investment (ROI).


Home Equity

Most of us purchase a home with a mortgage. As that mortgage is paid down, you, as a homeowner, have a greater interest in your home. Essentially, home equity represents the property’s current value minus any liens that you might have, such as your mortgage.

Home equity is not only the amount of your interest in your home, but it also represents an asset that you can use to borrow money against for college tuition or paying off other high-interest debt. Home equity borrowing typically translates into a lower interest rate, which is also tax deductible if you use the funds to improve your home.


Brand Equity

At its core, brand equity refers to the value premium your company generates from a product with a recognizable name when compared to a generic equivalent. For instance, an iPhone has a higher value premium than a smartphone made by a company that is available at a lower price.

When you have positive brand equity, then customers are willing to pay more even though they could get the same thing for less. A company with brand equity is not incurring high expenses to produce its product and bring it to market, but they are seeing a difference in the price, which contributes to higher margins and bigger profits. The truth is that brand equity can result in tangible or intangible value, both positive and negative.


How to Calculate Owner’s Equity

Calculating your owner’s equity involves knowing the value of your assets and the amount of your liabilities. By subtracting your liabilities from the value of your assets, you know how much your owner’s equity is. Your bookkeeper can include the owner’s equity on the balance sheet, thus allowing you to find it easily from month to month.


What is a Statement of Owner’s Equity?

A statement of owner’s equity shows the movements in a capital account of a sole proprietorship, including additional contributions, withdrawals, and net income or net loss. This number might change as you make additional contributions or spend capital to expand your product line or withdrawals made as the owner.


owner's equity guide


Can Owner’s Equity be Negative?

For many business owners, the value of the assets owned by the business (such as equipment, inventory, and investments) will result in a positive owner’s equity, even once liabilities are subtracted. However, a business can also incur a significant amount of debt, and that debt can end up being higher than the value of its assets. The result is that the owner’s equity is negative.

How does that help in determining the financial health of your business? Essentially, your business would likely need to pay down debt or increase income to build up the assets of the company. Although the owner’s equity might be in the negative, it does not necessarily mean that the business is not able to cover its obligations, but it does signal that the amount of debt and liabilities put the company at greater financial risk, should their income levels drop.


What’s the Difference Between Equity and Return on Equity?

Equity is the difference between a company’s assets and liabilities, the residual value of the company’s assets after all debts are paid. There are two categories of equity: common equity and preferred equity. Common equity is the ownership interest of shareholders in a company. Preferred equity, on the other hand, represents a class of ownership with a higher claim on the company’s assets and earnings.

Return on equity (ROE) is a measure of financial performance, calculating how much profit a company generates for each dollar of shareholder equity, which can be determined by dividing net income by shareholders’ equity. ROE is considered a gauge of a corporation’s profitability and how efficiently those profits are generated. When you have a high ROE, then it shows your company is better at converting equity financing into profits.

Therefore, just because your company has a positive equity does not necessarily mean that it has a high ROE. Instead, you need to determine how efficiently capital is being used and then determine the best path forward to increase both equity and profitability.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the role of retained earnings in owner’s equity?

Retained earnings are a part of the owner’s equity, so the retained earnings account is the owner’s equity account. An increase in retained earnings means an increase in owner’s equity, and a decrease in retained earnings means a decrease in owner’s equity. Retained earnings refer to the company’s net income or loss over the life of the company, minus any dividends paid to investors.


How is owner’s equity reported on a company’s financial statements?

The statement of owner’s equity is a financial statement reporting changes in the equity section of the balance sheet. It reports any changes to the company’s equity, including earned profits, dividends, inflow of equity, withdrawal of equity, and net loss. This one-page report shows the difference between total liabilities and total assets, thus demonstrating owner’s equity.


Why is owner’s equity important to investors?

Owner’s equity is a crucial component of a company’s balance sheet and a measure of its financial health. Investors and lenders often consider the balance of owner’s equity as an indicator of the company’s ability to repay debts and withstand financial challenges. The statement of owner’s equity provides insights into the company’s financial health and stability, reflecting the total owner investment, which includes their initial investments and additional contributions.


How does owner’s equity affect a company’s ability to attract investors or secure loans?

A positive balance promotes confidence in the company’s potential for future growth, making it more likely that the company will be able to secure investors and financing. Understanding the owner’s equity allows investors and lenders to evaluate the value of the ownership stake and make informed decisions about the company’s financial health.


How does owner’s equity change over time?

Owner’s equity can change overtime as the owner invests more into the business through additional contributions, takes withdrawals, or has retained earnings. There may also be changes if the owner takes on a partner or the company goes public.


What Is AccountsBalance?




AccountsBalance is a monthly bookkeeping service specialized for agencies & SAAS companies.

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You’ll have your Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement ready for analysis each month so you and your business partners can make better business decisions.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a call with our CEO, Nathan Hirsch.

And here’s some free resources:


In Summary

The owner’s equity is a financial metric that helps you understand the value of your business and evaluate its financial health. By regularly checking the changes to your owner’s equity, you can also begin to determine ways to increase your owner’s equity through streamlining of processes or limiting withdrawals. The goal is to see your owner’s equity continue to increase, thus demonstrating that your business is financial stable and profitable.


Want help with your bookkeeping? We make it easy. Get startedSpeak w/ a Founder, or Schedule a Callback

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Tracy Knepple

Tracy Knepple

As a writer and editor with 20+ years experience, Tracy Knepple offers practical tips and analysis on accounting, bookkeeping, small business, and many other topics. She has authored over 100 books as a professional writer for the Raymond Aaron Group. She received her Bachelor's degree in Communications from Indiana University.

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