Identify and explain potential indicators that an entity is not a going concern

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Identify and explain potential indicators that an entity is not a going concern

When evaluating an entity’s financial statements, one key consideration is whether the business can be regarded as a going concern. An entity is generally considered a going concern unless its management intends to liquidate the entity or cease operations, or has no realistic alternative but to do so. Recognizing the indicators that suggest an entity might not be a going concern is crucial for auditors, investors, creditors, and management. This article explores various potential indicators that raise concerns about an entity’s ability to continue operating in the foreseeable future.

Financial Indicators

Net Liability or Net Current Liability Position

When a company’s total liabilities exceed its total assets, it may indicate financial distress. A net current liability position, where current liabilities exceed current assets, suggests potential short-term liquidity issues.

Negative Operating Cash Flows

Persistently negative operating cash flows imply that the business is struggling to generate enough cash to sustain its operations, which is a significant red flag for going concern.

Declining Revenues or Margins

A continuous decline in sales, revenues, or profit margins can indicate market challenges or operational inefficiencies, potentially jeopardizing the entity’s viability.

Inability to Generate New Business

A failure to secure new contracts or customers can signal an inability to sustain operations in the long term.

Operational Indicators

Loss of Key Management or Staff

The departure of key personnel, especially without adequate replacement, can significantly disrupt business operations.

Loss of a Major Market or Customer

Dependency on a few major customers or markets is risky; losing any of these can substantially impact the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Supply Chain Issues

Difficulties in securing essential supplies or significant increases in supply costs can adversely affect operational capabilities.

Product Obsolescence

In fast-evolving industries, failure to innovate or update products can lead to obsolescence and declining demand.

Financial Support Indicators

Default on Loans or Breach of Loan Covenants

Difficulty in meeting loan obligations or breaching loan covenants can lead to liquidity crises and signal financial instability.

Inability to Obtain New Financing

If a company cannot secure new financing or refinance existing debts, it may struggle to fund its operations and meet its obligations.

Withdrawal of Existing Investor Support

The withdrawal of financial support by existing investors or stakeholders can critically impact the entity’s financial health.

Divestment of Core Assets

Selling core assets to fund operating expenses is a strong indicator of financial distress and a potential threat to the entity’s viability.

Legal and Regulatory Indicators

Legal Proceedings

Significant legal challenges, especially those that might result in substantial financial penalties, can threaten the entity’s future.

Regulatory Changes

Adverse regulatory changes can affect the feasibility of continuing operations, especially for entities heavily reliant on regulated markets.

 External and Market Indicators

Economic Downturn

An economic recession can have broad impacts, including reduced consumer spending and tighter credit markets, affecting the entity’s viability.

Technological Changes

Rapid technological advances can render a company’s products or services obsolete.

Industry Decline

Operating in an industry that is in decline or facing significant challenges can impact an entity’s long-term sustainability.


In conclusion, identifying whether an entity is not a going concern involves considering various indicators across financial, operational, financial support, legal, and external domains. These indicators, either individually or collectively, can signal potential problems with an entity’s ability to continue its operations into the foreseeable future. Recognizing these signs early is crucial for all stakeholders, including management, auditors, investors, and creditors, to make informed decisions. It allows for proactive measures, whether in the form of strategic shifts, seeking financial restructuring, or preparing for potential liquidation. The evaluation of these indicators should be a continuous process, reflective of an ever-changing business landscape, where new risks can emerge rapidly, and existing ones can evolve or dissipate. Therefore, the assessment of an entity’s going concern status is not just an exercise during financial reporting but a fundamental aspect of ongoing business analysis and strategy development.