📺 Stream EntrepreneurTV for Free 📺

How to Play the Numbers Game and Win Knowing your break-even point and how to get there will help get your business on the right foot.

By Brad Sugars Edited by Dan Bova

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When is the point where you start making money in your business?

Breakeven analysis is the tool used to determine when you do, and it's vital to understand when a business will be able to cover all its expenses and begin to make a profit.

Very simply, numbers are the language of business, and business truly is a numbers game.

That's why it is extremely important to know the numbers of "The Game" before you start playing it, so you make the best decisions you can.

The importance of breakeven.
Your breakeven point is simply the point in your operations when revenue equals all business costs.

As a startup business owner, you'll quickly discover revenues don't match one-to-one with expenses. Why? Your cost of selling $1,000 in retail goods could easily be $700, leaving you $300 in gross profit available for $1000 in overhead costs. This is important because you now have a difference, and you'll need to make it up somehow.

Numbers you need.
To calculate your breakeven point, you will need to identify your fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are expenses that don't vary with sales volume, such as rent or salaries.

Variable costs vary directly with the sales volume, such as the costs of purchasing inventory, shipping or manufacturing a product.

This will help tell you the amount of revenue you'll need to bring in to cover your expenses before you make any profit at all.

How to calculate your breakeven point.
There are a few formulas to find breakeven, but an easy one simply divides your costs by your percentage rate of gross profit.

For example, if you're selling widgets with an average gross profit of $3.50 and retail price point of $10, your gross profit percentage is 35 percent ($3.50 divided by $10).

Just divide your estimated costs by your own percentage to determine the amount of sales revenue you'll need to breakeven.

Say you've determined your costs are $6,500 per month ($5000 plus 30 percent to account for any unquantifiable costs you can't or haven't yet identified), and your expected gross profit margin is 35 percent.

That means your breakeven point is $18,571.43 in sales revenue per month ($6,500 divided by .35).

Note this does NOT include any profit (by definition), or even a salary for your efforts.

Making your numbers work.
If your breakeven point is higher than your expected revenues, you'll need to decide whether certain aspects of your plan can be changed. For example, can you lower costs or raise prices.

Play with the numbers and ask yourself if they still work. Then apply them to time -- what part of the month, week or workday will you breakeven?

If you tinker with the numbers and your breakeven revenue still seems unattainable, you may need to rethink your opportunity.

Is that a bad thing? No! Better to lose money on paper than in the marketplace.

Take heart in the fact that you've saved yourself a lot of pain before investing resources in a bad idea and get on with finding opportunities where the numbers will work better for you.

Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. As an entrepreneur, author and business coach, he has owned and operated more than two dozen companies including his main company, ActionCOACH, which has more than 1,000 offices in 34 countries.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Data & Recovery

Invest in Your Company's Cybersecurity with This $50 Bundle

Train to become a certified ethical hacker with this collection of e-learning courses.

Business Culture

Are 5-Day Workweeks Outdated? Exploring Alternative Schedules for the Modern Workforce

Discussing the history and evolution of the five-day workweek and exploring more flexible work schedules that better accommodate the diverse needs and lifestyles of today's workforce.

Growing a Business

3 Strategies to Keep Your Customers Coming Back For More

The critical risk area for losing a guest varies, depending on the industry and the individual guest's experience, but three main touch points offer opportunities to reinforce loyalty. Just remember that they can also drive guests away if not done right.

Starting a Business

Maximize Profits and Achieve Success With These Effective Goal Setting Tips

Join us for this exclusive subscriber Q&A, where Clinton Sparks shares his goal-setting secrets for all entrepreneurs.

Business Culture

Hybrid Work Is Failing Your Employees — Here's Why (and What You Can Do About It)

Business leaders are trying to choose between in-person and remote work. This leads to hybrid, which just isn't effective. Here's why.

Growing a Business

How to Properly Manage the Cash Flow of Your Startup

Ever think financial planning and analysis is just for big businesses? Think again! Startups thrive on solid financial planning, which is key to staying ahead of your competitors.