What Are Liabilities?

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We work with small business owners and entrepreneurs. Some are seasoned, others are just growing their side hustle. Their skills are varied and they have a wide variety of talents. We often get asked to explain the ins and outs of financial reports and have found that providing our favorite clients with a working knowledge of accounting terms is helpful. With that end in mind, we’re sharing that expert knowledge with you. So if you’re looking to get a better grasp on your small business books, want to understand your financial reports so you can make better business decisions, or even are just starting out and want to do it right… you can check out our word of the week and start expanding your working financial knowledge.

What Are Liabilities?

Simply put, liabilities are any existing debt that you owe to another business, organization, vendor or employee. That mortgage you have on your storefront – a liability. The tab you keep with your top vendors – yep, another liability. The money you’ll be paying your employees at the end of this pay period- yet another liability.

Liabilities make buying items for your business easier, because you don’t have to pay the amount in full immediately. And although that makes things easier on your business finances, it’s important to know who you owe, how much, and what you owe it for so you don’t get in over your head.

How Does Knowing Your Liabilities Help?

Keeping track of your liabilities will help keep your business functioning. As we mentioned before, a business owner that just dives in without keeping records of who they owe, how much, and what they owe it for, will usually end up in a financial mess.

Sorting liabilities can be done by categorizing them in 2 ways – short and long term liabilities. Long term liabilities include:

  • loans that last more than a year
  • mortgages
  • accrued expenses
  • deferred taxes

Some examples of short-term liabilities are:

  • employee wages
  • accounts payable
  • supplies or raw materials
  • invoices from vendors
  • utilities for your building or production site

When you know and track your liabilities you’re able to get a good grasp on your business’s profitability and that can guide you on making further purchases for your business. Additionally, with clearly outlined liabilities you’re able to move forward in the process of securing additional money for your business by applying for a bank loan or signing with an investor. Most banks and investors want to see your liabilities and are more likely to lend money or invest when they know how far in you are and that you’re committed to and consistent in paying back your debts.


Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.

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