Essential Financial Ratios for Small Business Owners

Financial ratios are critical tools that can significantly benefit small business owners by helping them evaluate and improve their business’s financial health. These ratios are numerical calculations that measure various aspects of a company’s financial performance, such as profitability, liquidity, solvency, and operational efficiency. Mastering the use of financial ratios can empower small business owners in their decision-making processes, allowing them to identify areas of strength and weakness and take corrective action where necessary. In this blog post, we will explore the most essential financial ratios, demonstrating how they can be calculated, analysed, and applied to improve your small business’s operations and performance.

Profitability Ratios – Assessing Your Business’s Earnings Performance

1. Gross Profit Margin

The gross profit margin is a crucial profitability ratio that calculates the percentage difference between the revenue and the cost of goods sold (COGS). This ratio indicates how well you generate gross profit from sales, revealing the efficiency of your business operations. To calculate your gross profit margin, subtract your COGS from your total revenue, and then divide the result by your total revenue.

2. Net Profit Margin

Another vital profitability ratio is the net profit margin, which represents the percentage of revenue that remains as net profit after all operating expenses, taxes, and other costs have been deducted. A higher net profit margin indicates a more profitable business. To calculate this ratio, divide your net profit by your total revenue.

3. Return on Assets (ROA)

The return on assets (ROA) measures the efficiency of your business in generating profit from its total assets. This ratio helps assess the effectiveness of your asset management and overall operational efficiency. To calculate the ROA, divide your net profit by your total assets.

Liquidity Ratios – Evaluating Your Business’s Short-Term Financial Health

1. Current Ratio

The current ratio is a widely-used liquidity ratio that evaluates a business’s ability to pay its short-term liabilities using its short-term assets. A higher current ratio generally indicates better liquidity; a ratio of 1.5 or greater is often favourable. To calculate your business’s current ratio, divide your total current assets by your total current liabilities.

2. Quick Ratio (Acid-Test Ratio)

The quick ratio, also known as the acid-test ratio, is a more stringent measure of liquidity, as it only considers more liquid assets, namely cash, marketable securities, and accounts receivable. This ratio can provide a better understanding of your business’s ability to meet short-term obligations without the need to sell inventory. Calculate the quick ratio by adding cash, marketable securities, and accounts receivable, and then dividing the total by your current liabilities.

Solvency Ratios – A Comprehensive View of Long-Term Financial Stability

1. Debt-to-Equity Ratio

The debt-to-equity ratio is a crucial solvency ratio that evaluates the proportion of debt to equity used to finance your business assets. A high debt-to-equity ratio may suggest higher financial risk, as it highlights a greater reliance on debt compared to owner’s equity. To calculate this ratio, divide your total liabilities by your total equity.

2. Equity Ratio

The equity ratio measures the proportion of your business’s total assets financed by owner’s equity. A higher equity ratio generally indicates greater financial stability and a lower level of financial risk. To calculate the equity ratio, divide your total equity by your total assets.

Efficiency Ratios – Benchmarking Your Business’s Operational Performance

1. Inventory Turnover Ratio

The inventory turnover ratio is an important efficiency ratio that showcases the number of times your business sells and replaces its inventory during a given period, typically one year. A higher inventory turnover ratio suggests better inventory management and sales performance. Calculate your inventory turnover ratio by dividing your cost of goods sold (COGS) by your average inventory during the specified period.

2. Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio

The accounts receivable turnover ratio measures your business’s effectiveness in managing credit and collecting outstanding payments. A higher ratio indicates faster collection of receivables, improving your cash flow. To calculate the accounts receivable turnover ratio, divide your net credit sales by your average accounts receivable for a specific period.


Effectively leveraging financial ratios is paramount for small business owners looking to gain insights into their financial health, identify unfavourable trends, and implement targeted strategies for improvement. By mastering the use of profitability, liquidity, solvency, and efficiency ratios—and regularly monitoring and updating your performance benchmarks—you can ensure that your small business remains financially sound and poised for sustained growth.

As you continue to pursue the full potential of your small business, partnering with a team of experienced professionals can make all the difference in your journey toward financial success. At Prosperity Accountants, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive accounting services in Perth tailored to the unique goals and challenges faced by small business owners like you. Contact us today to discover how our expertise in essential financial ratios, accounting, tax, and advisory services can contribute to your business’s ongoing growth and success.

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