Maximizing Business Growth: How to Leverage Key Business Assets for Success


Discover the ins and outs of business assets in this comprehensive guide. From tangible to intangible, learn about the types of assets, how they work, and their impact on financial statements and decision-making.

What is a business asset?

A business asset is a valuable item owned by a company that contributes to its operations and holds economic value. Business assets encompass various categories, ranging from physical, tangible goods like vehicles, real estate, office furniture, and machinery, to intangible assets such as intellectual property and patents.

Types of business assets

Business assets can be broadly classified into two main categories: tangible and intangible.

Tangible assets

Tangible assets are physical items that have a material existence. They include:

  • Real estate: Land and buildings owned by the business for its operations or investment purposes.
  • Equipment: Machinery, tools, vehicles, and other tangible tools used in daily business activities.
  • Inventory: Goods held for resale or raw materials used in production.

Intangible assets

Intangible assets lack a physical presence but hold significant value. They include:

  • Intellectual property: Patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets that protect the company’s innovations and brand.
  • Goodwill: The reputation and positive relationships a company has built, contributing to its overall value.
  • Software: Proprietary software applications and licenses used for business operations.

How business assets work

Business assets are vital components of a company’s balance sheet, which outlines its financial position. They are typically listed at historical cost rather than current market value. On the balance sheet, assets are categorized based on their liquidity, indicating how easily they can be converted to cash without impacting their price.

Most business assets can be expensed in the year of purchase through depreciation or section 179 deductions. Depreciation spreads the asset’s cost over time, while section 179 allows immediate expensing of certain qualifying assets. Return on net assets (RONA) is a financial ratio that measures a company’s asset efficiency.

Current assets vs. non-current assets

Business assets are divided into current assets and non-current (or long-term) assets on the balance sheet.

Current assets

Current assets are assets that are expected to be converted into cash within a year. Examples include cash, marketable securities, inventory, and accounts receivable.

Non-current assets

Non-current assets are assets that provide value for more than a year. These include property, buildings, equipment, and long-term investments. Non-current assets are depreciated over their useful life.

Depreciation and amortization of business assets

Tangible assets undergo depreciation, while intangible assets undergo amortization. These processes allocate an asset’s cost over its useful life. Depreciation for a tangible asset is calculated by subtracting its salvage value from its original cost and then dividing by its useful life.

Valuing business assets

The value of business assets can change over time. Current tangible assets like vehicles and machinery may become obsolete due to technological advancements. When valuing assets, businesses can seek appraisals to determine their worth for various purposes such as collateral or financial reporting.

Weigh the risks and benefits

Here’s a balanced view of the advantages and drawbacks of business assets.

  • Enhance company operations
  • Contribute to company value
  • Provide competitive advantage
  • Depreciation and obsolescence
  • Management and maintenance costs
  • Intangible asset valuation challenges

Frequently asked questions

What are some examples of tangible business assets?

Tangible business assets are physical items owned by a company. Some examples include:

  • Real estate: Land, buildings, and warehouses used for business operations.
  • Equipment: Machinery, vehicles, tools, and computers utilized in daily business activities.
  • Inventory: Goods held for resale or raw materials used in production.

Can you provide some examples of intangible business assets?

Intangible business assets lack a physical presence but hold significant value. Here are some examples:

  • Intellectual property: This includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets that protect the company’s innovations and brand.
  • Goodwill: The positive reputation and customer relationships a company has built over time, contributing to its overall value.
  • Software: Proprietary software applications and licenses used for business operations.

Are there any other types of business assets?

Yes, there are other types of business assets, such as financial assets. These can include:

  • Marketable securities: Investments in stocks, bonds, or other securities that can be easily converted to cash.
  • Accounts receivable: Debts owed to the company by its customers for goods or services that have been delivered but not yet paid for.

How do businesses typically value their assets?

Businesses often value their assets at historical cost, which is the original purchase price. However, some assets may be revalued over time to reflect changes in market value or obsolescence. Appraisals by professionals can also be used to determine the current worth of assets for various purposes.

Can you provide examples of how business assets impact financial statements?

Business assets are recorded on a company’s balance sheet, which is a financial statement that provides an overview of the company’s financial position. Tangible assets like real estate and equipment are listed as assets on the balance sheet. The depreciation of these assets is recorded on the income statement, affecting the company’s profitability. Intangible assets like intellectual property can add value to the balance sheet and may be amortized over time.

What happens if a business asset becomes obsolete?

If a business asset, especially a tangible one like machinery or technology, becomes obsolete due to advancements in technology, it may need to be replaced or upgraded. The obsolete asset may also be written down on the balance sheet to reflect its reduced value.

Do all businesses have the same types of assets?

No, the types of assets a business owns can vary widely based on its industry, size, and operations. For example, a manufacturing company may have significant machinery and inventory, while a technology company may have valuable intellectual property assets.

How can businesses protect their intellectual property assets?

Businesses can protect their intellectual property assets through legal means such as obtaining patents, trademarks, and copyrights. They can also use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and trade secret protection to safeguard sensitive information.

Key takeaways

  • Business assets encompass both tangible and intangible items.
  • Tangible assets include real estate, equipment, and inventory.
  • Intangible assets include intellectual property and goodwill.
  • Assets are listed on the balance sheet and can impact financial ratios.
  • Depreciation and amortization allocate asset costs over time.
  • Appraisals help determine the value of business assets.
View article sources
  1. Different types of business assets –
  2. Buy assets and equipment –
  3. Government Fixed Assets – Bureau of Economic Analysis