Net Income: Definition, Formula and Examples for Beginners

net income definition in accounting

Net income should ideally be greater than the expenditure to be indicative of financial health. The most obvious difference between net income and net profit is that net income is the “bottom line” of the firm’s income statement from which all expenses have been deducted. Net profit, however, indicates the profitability of the business for a specific time period. It is typically known as the “bottom line” figure for small businesses on their income statement after all expenses are removed. Net profit, on the other hand, is slightly different because it is the pure profit that a business earns after deducting various classes of expenses.

net income definition in accounting

Gross income is a good metric for business owners to use for measuring their total sales and tracking over time. It’s also good for determining their market share, as well as trends and seasonality of their sales if there are some months, quarters, or days of the week that are stronger than others, for instance. In managing their business’s finances, owners and managers need to periodically total their sales over various periods of time, including weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.

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In this case, the store’s profit margin would equal $90,000 divided by $250,000, or 36%. This means that for every dollar of sales the store achieved, it netted 36 cents in profit for the period. Net income is typically found on a company’s income statement, which is also called a Profit and Loss statement. As an investor, you can see this for yourself through a company’s financial filings with the SEC.

An equation for net income

So, even though technically ‘profit’ is an uncountable word, is commonly used as a countable. It’s important to note that net income is just one metric to look at and it can vary from business to business. Discover all the relevant Starling Business Account fees in the UK. Providing quick and easy ways for customers to pay you is fundamental to business success — especially if you’re expanding operations overseas.

net income definition in accounting

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this post may contain references to products from our partners. The first, and arguably the most important business expense is COGS, which can be defined as the firm’s direct production costs like raw materials, labor, and overhead. If a business sells services instead of products, it does not have cost of goods sold. Let’s continue with our example of the retail store with $250,000 of sales over a particular quarter. Now, let’s say that the items the store sold cost a total of $115,000 to purchase (inventory cost).

Other Names for Net Income

Companies often use an income statement, which typically shows all income and expenses. The net income is usually found at the bottom of the income statement. For individuals, net income matters because it shows you how much money you may be able to spend. And for a business, net income is the amount of money left over after all expenses are paid. This is a handy measure of how profitable the company is on a percentage basis, when compared to its past self or to other companies.

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Net income is the total income from revenue (sales and other income) after all business expenses are deducted. Both the revenue and expense figures can be obtained from the business’s income statement. Net income is arguably one of the most important gauges of financial health for a business and its stakeholders.

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Gross income helps managers to track a business’s sales volume, as opposed to profitability. When business owners review their revenue over various periods, they need to do so before deducting any expenses. That’s the only way they can track their sales over time, the average size of sales and seasonality. “Net income sheds light on how well the business is run,” Tsang says. Gross income refers to the total amount of income earned from all sources before anything is taken out. Net income refers to income after all taxes and deductions are subtracted from the gross income.

Importance of net income in business

As such, when someone refers to a company’s ‘bottom line’, they are talking about the net income that the company generated during the period. Net income (also called ‘net profit’ or ‘net earnings’) is a measure of how much much money a business makes minus the money spent to help it operate in one fiscal period. When a company has more revenue than expenses, it has a positive net income. But if there are more expenses than revenue, then that’s a negative net income, or net loss.

  • A company with positive net income is more likely to have financial health than a company with negative net income.
  • In this example, if the amount of expenses had been higher than revenues, the result would have been termed a net loss, rather than net income.
  • “Net income sheds light on how well the business is run,” Tsang says.
  • Operating income is another, more conservative measure of profitability that goes one step further than gross income.
  • And a company’s gross income is the total revenue minus COGS, or cost of goods sold.
  • Next to revenue, net income is the most important number in accounting.

Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional. Whether you want to pay off debt, create a manageable budget or save for a home, understanding net income could be the first step in managing your money. Knowing your net income, or net pay, can be a good way to budget and look for areas where you could cut back on spending. And for businesses, it can also offer a picture of how much profit a company is bringing in.


Net income is listed near the bottom of the income statement, after the operating income line item. The number is the employee’s gross income, minus taxes, and retirement account contributions. For the individual, net income is the money you actually get from your paycheck each month rather than the gross amount you get paid before payroll deductions. You may have some other sources of income such as Social Security checks, side jobs or investment income which can add to your net income.

net income definition in accounting

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