An asset is basically an economic resource. It can be cash or a tangible item that can be converted to cash. A business asset is thus anything tangible or intangible that a business owns that can be used in long term operations.
Items that are consumed within a short period of time are usually not considered as business assets. For example, office supplies such as pens, paper, printer toner, ink, staple wire, and the like are not business assets. On the other hand, machinery that is used for production is considered an asset. For example, a leather goods manufacturer can consider all machinery used to produce their leather goods as assets. Cars and other vehicles owned by the company are also considered as business assets. As you can see, these items are meant for long term use, and can be converted to cash (via selling) at any point.
Business assets do not have to be equipment only. If a business has a stockpile of raw materials, these materials are business assets. Business assets can also be intangible. Perfect examples of intangible business assets include copyrights, patents, and other things related to intellectual property.
How are business assets significant? When declaring the value of a company, the business assets are taken into account. While cars and machinery will certainly depreciate in value, there is still a certain amount attributed to them, increasing the overall value of the company. More so, when tax time comes, the business can lower their taxable income by taking depreciation into consideration.