An asset is something a business owns that helps produce economic value going forward, according to Chron Small Business, and a liability is an obligation to pay money to a business or entity going forward. Companies sometimes opt to sell assets to pay off liabilities.
Another key difference is where these items get recorded on a balance sheet. Chron notes that assets go on one side and liabilities on the other. Assets equal liabilities plus owners' equity is a basic accounting formula, according to About.com Money. The difference between the value of a company's assets and the amount of its total liabilities is the net worth of the business.