what are operating costs?

What Are Operating Costs?

Deskera Content Team
Deskera Content Team
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Operating costs are the known expenditures of a company. The most common reported operating cost is the net income or loss. Other operating costs include wages, rent, utilities, and any charges paid to vendors who provide services to a company or its employees. Operating costs are often calculated as positive and negative elements of profit and loss statements since many operating costs are also considered assets that can be financed or depreciated over time.

Here's what we have covered in the article:

Definition of Operating Costs

Operating costs are the expenses incurred by a business that it uses to conduct its operations. These expenses may include payroll, rent, insurance premiums, utilities, and equipment maintenance. Operating costs do not include capital expenditures or depreciation.

Operating costs are considered variable costs because they change with the production level. For example, if your sales increase by 10 percent, you will likely need more workers to keep up with demand. It increases your labor costs, which are considered operating costs.

The term operating cost refers to both fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses do not change based on activity or output; they are constant throughout the year. Variable fees vary depending on action or outcome; they fluctuate based on how much product you produce or sell. For example, suppose you own a bakery and sell 1 million cupcakes in one month. Your variable costs associated with making those cupcakes will increase accordingly because you have more ingredients to buy — flour, sugar, and eggs — and electricity for ovens and refrigerators for storing them until they're eaten.

Why are Operating Costs substantial?

Operating costs are the most significant expense for any business. They can be viewed as an investment in a company's future success. They must be determined carefully and monitored closely throughout the business's life.

Operating costs are necessary because they can eat into your profit margin if you're not careful. It can be one of the most significant factors determining whether you make money or lose money on a project. That's why it's essential to understand your operating costs and how they affect your bottom line.

They are an essential part of the total cost of doing business. They are not the only type of cost, but they are certainly one of the most significant. Operating expenses include everything required to keep a company in operation, including salaries, employee benefits, and insurance premiums. They also include sales commissions, property taxes, and utilities.

Operating costs can vary widely from one business to another. A retail store might have high utility bills, while a manufacturing plant may have high labor costs because it has more workers. In some cases, operating costs can account for up to 60% of total revenues.

These costs are substantial because they represent real money going out the door every month or quarter — money that could be used for something else if your business isn't earning enough to cover its costs. If you're losing money on operations every year, it's time to take a hard look at your business model and see what changes need to be made to start earning profits.

Types of Operating Costs

Operating costs are often divided into two categories: variable and fixed. Variable operating costs increase with the output level and decrease as output decreases, while fixed operating costs remain constant regardless of output level.

There are many different types of operating costs. The most common ones are:

  • If you sell products or services, you'll need inventory. Inventory is a significant investment and can eat up a lot of capital, but it's also necessary for any business that sells products or services. In addition to purchasing inventory, you'll also have to pay storage fees and insurance.
  • Rent or lease payments: If you're renting space for your business —an office, warehouse, or retail store — this is an operating cost that needs to be factored into your budget.
  • Electricity, water, and gas are all essential utilities that must be paid for if they aren't included in your rent or lease agreement.
  • Payroll expenses: Employees will expect to be compensated for their time and effort, including paying salaries, bonuses, and other benefits like health care coverage. You might also have payroll taxes and workers' compensation insurance premiums to cover as well as these expenses increase over time based on the number of employees who work for your company at any given time
  • Wages and benefits are only one component of payroll expenses — there are also payroll administration costs such as tax withholdings from employee paychecks.

What are Fixed Operating Costs?

Fixed operating costs don't change with the volume of production or sales. For example, rent and insurance are fixed operating expenses.

Fixed operating costs do not vary with the volume of production or sales. These include rent, insurance premiums, and depreciation on equipment. The cost of materials used in production will vary depending on the number produced, but this is part of the product cost rather than an operating expense.

These operating costs do not change with fluctuations in production levels but rather remain constant during periods when no items are produced at all. These costs cover ongoing expenses such as rent or leases on buildings/facilities, insurance premiums, maintenance contracts for machines/equipment, etc. Fixed operating costs don't change significantly concerning output or sales. They include depreciation, insurance premiums, rent, and utilities.

What are Variable Operating Costs?

Variable operating costs fluctuate in direct proportion to the volume of business activity. For example, utilities, wages, and salaries are variable operating costs.

Variable operating costs increase as sales increase and decrease as sales decrease. Variable expenses include employee wages, utilities, and advertising expenses. Variable operational costs change based on how much work you're doing; they're directly related to how many products or services you sell in a given period (and, therefore, how much money you take in).

These type of costs change in direct proportion to the company's production activity level. For example, run a small manufacturing facility and produce 100 units per day. Your variable operating costs will be higher than those of a more prominent firm producing 10,000 units per day because you have more employees on hand to complete work orders. In addition, your rent or lease payments will likely be higher due to having more space available. Variable operating costs typically include labor, materials used in production, and utilities (such as electricity) consumed by the facility itself (such as electricity).

Examples of Operating Costs

You can also think of operating costs as the day-to-day expenses of running a business. Operating costs are different from fixed costs because they change with the level of activity in your industry. For example, if you have a restaurant and the number of customers you serve increases, your food costs will increase because you'll need to buy more food. However, if you have a retail store and there's no change in customer traffic, your rent won't change unless you renegotiate your lease terms.

Operating costs are all of the expenses that a business incurs to operate. Each of these operating costs is considered a variable cost, meaning that they change directly with changes in production level. For example, if a company produces ten widgets in one hour and then increases its production rate to 20 widgets per hour, its variable costs will also increase by ten widgets.

Significance of Operating Costs

Operating costs are also called "overhead" since they are expenses that must be paid regardless of how much product is sold. In contrast, direct labor costs are incurred only when products are being manufactured or when services are being performed; they reflect the number of hours worked by employees or contractors who directly contribute to the creation or delivery of goods or services for sale.

Calculating operating expenses as a percentage of total sales is to benchmark performance over time within an industry and across industries. It can also compare the cost structure between different companies within an industry. For example:

Suppose Company A has an operating margin of 20% while Company B has 15%. In that case, Company A generates $0.20 in sales revenue for every dollar spent on operating expenses (20% x $1). Company B generates $0.15 in sales revenue for every dollar spent on operating expenses (15% x $1).

Calculating Operating Costs

Operating costs are calculated by adding up all the monthly expenses associated with running a business. These expenses can be divided into three categories: direct fees (those directly related to providing goods or services), indirect expenses (those that aren't directly related to providing goods or services but are still necessary for a business to operate) and fixed expenses (those not directly related to providing goods or services but that remain constant regardless of how much revenue is brought in).

Operating costs are typically calculated as a percentage of sales. For example, if you sell $100,000 worth of products in a month and your operating costs are $5,000, your overhead percentage is 5 percent (5 percent of $100k).

Calculating operating costs is relatively straightforward if you know how much money you make every month or year. The equation is:

Operating Costs = Cost of Goods Sold x Average Inventory Turns

Let's look at an example using this simple formula:

Cost of Goods Sold = $2,000 (cost per unit) x 10 units (sales per month) = $20,000

Average Inventory Turns = 20 days; therefore, the cost per unit per day is $1

How do Operating Costs Affect Your Profit?

Operating costs are critical factors determining whether your business will be successful. The more operating expenses you have, the harder it will be for you to turn a profit. Conversely, if there are no operational costs involved in your venture, the chances are good that you won't make any money either!

The best way to determine whether or not a new business venture will be profitable is by calculating its break-even point:

Break-even Point Formula:  

Fixed Costs + Variable Cost Per Unit x Units Sold = Break-Even Point

You're starting up a new bakery called Sweet Treats Bakery and want to know what sales volume would be required for this venture to break even.

Why Does Monitoring Your Operating Costs Matter?

Operating costs are an essential part of your business's financial health. If you don't know how much operating costs are, you may not have enough money to pay them. This will put your business at risk of going out of business or becoming insolvent.

Monitoring your operating costs also gives you an idea of how well a business is going. If you're spending more on utilities than usual, it may be a sign that something needs to change — like turning down the heat or turning off lights during non-peak hours. Or maybe there's an unexpected expense that needs to be covered. Whatever the case may be, it's good to know about these changes so that they don't catch you off guard when it comes time to file taxes or make projections for next year's budget.

There are two main reasons why monitoring operating costs is essential:

1) You want to know how much money is coming in and going out of your company to keep track of your cash flow and make sure there's enough money to pay employees and other vendors.

2) You want to make sure that the right people are doing the right jobs at the right time to maximize profits and minimize costs.

Final Word

By understanding your operating costs, you will be able to manage your business or non-profit in a more efficient way. You can save money and decrease overhead by eliminating unnecessary expenses. Down the road, this can help you with cutting down on future capital investments. Hopefully, this article has given you a good idea of calculating operating costs.

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Key Takeaways

Operating costs can also be specific expenditures that do not fall into the actual cost of producing your product or service but are necessary to run your business. For example, utility bills, real estate taxes, salaries for general office work, office supplies, and even professional-level fees for legal services.

  • Operating costs directly affect the total cost of producing a product or service
  • When you know your operating costs, you can better determine how much must be earned to make a profit
  • Reducing overhead will often increase profits as unnecessary, non-productive expenditures are eliminated
  • Beyond financial factors, business owners should also consider intangible factors when evaluating their overall operating expenses
  • Other elements can be considered when evaluating operating costs, such as improved efficiency
  • Productivity at the workplace leads to gains in profit from efficiency gains outweighing possible losses from wage expenditures to hire new employees
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