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The ongoing global economic crisis, with high inflation, shaky economic activity, rising interest rates, and volatile markets, has pushed businesses into uncharted waters, forcing them to operate in an uncertain and chaotic environment.

Business owners need to tighten their belts and implement the right operational strategies to increase their operating revenue, improve profitability and compete from a position of strength.

Tracking your operating profit helps you see the big picture. As a business owner, you know that reducing expenses and increasing profitability is both critical and challenging in the current economic climate. Knowing your business’ financial status is the first step to working out where to reduce operational costs and helps you focus on increasing revenue.

In this article, we discuss all that you need to know about operating profit, how to calculate it, and what its uses and limitations are. We’ll also share handy tips to help you increase your business’s profits.

What is operating profit?

In the simplest terms, your operating profit is the money left over after you deduct all operating costs from your business’s operating revenue. It's a critical metric that proves to investors that your business generates more money than it spends. However, the operating profit is not the money you get to keep. Your business's actual profit is the net profit, as reflected on your income statement, which is the money you get to keep after paying taxes, debts, and other liabilities from the operating profit.

To summarize, the operating profit is the money your business makes after deducting operating expenses but before paying taxes, debts, and any additional liabilities.

Operating profit formula

Operating profit = Revenue - Operating costs - Cost of goods sold - Other day-to-day expenses

Let's take a closer look at each element in the formula:

  • Revenue: This is the amount of money your business generates by selling products or services.
  • Operating costs: These are the expenses required to run your business. They usually include employee salaries, utilities, rent, and other fixed expenditures. The rule of thumb to decide whether something falls under operating costs is to ask yourself, "Will the cost of the item or service increase if this cost were to go up?" For example, let's take utilities. The cost of the product sold will definitely increase if the cost of your utilities rises. Hence, utilities count as an operating cost.
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS): This is the total amount you spend to manufacture a product or deliver a service.
  • Day-to-day expenses: Depreciation and amortization fall under the umbrella of everyday expenses. A company vehicle is an excellent example of something that depreciates over time. Amortization relates primarily to intangible assets like franchise agreements, patents, and trademarks that decrease in value over time.

Here's a quick list of what not to include when calculating your operating profit:

  • Debt obligations
  • Income from the sale of business assets
  • Investment income from stakes in other companies
  • Losses due to write-offs or write-downs
  • Losses or gains due to changes in accounting strategies

Operating profit calculation example

Let's take a business with$1 million in revenue. Its operating expenses are as follows:

  • Overall operating costs: $400,000
  • Cost of goods sold: $500,000
  • Depreciation and amortization: $10,000

According to the formula we shared above:

Operating profit = $1,000,000 - $400,000 - $500,000 - $10,000 = $90,000

Uses and limitations of operating profit

Your operating profit represents the money you have left to pay taxes, debts, dividends to shareholders, and other liabilities. Hence, it's of particular interest to managers, investors, and creditors.

Operating profit uses

  • Indicates how well you manage your company: Since the operating profit is determined based on operating expenses like salaries, equipment leases, and other variable costs, it shows how efficiently you run your business operations. While some expenditures, like raw materials, are beyond your control, you can still negotiate with suppliers to get a better deal, which gives you a chance to reduce your operational expenses.
  • Gain accurate insights into your financial standing: Operating profit helps businesses understand their operating expenses, allowing them to take suitable measures to reduce costs and increase profitability.

The operating profit is usually seen as a direct reflection of the management team's efficiency, helping the team win the approval of investors and other stakeholders.

Operating profit limitations

  • A measure of profit, not profitability: Profit is a stand-alone metric that doesn't provide the complete picture of the company's financial health. Profitability is a better measure, indicating what the company's finances look like with all expenses, liabilities, and other assets considered.
  • Not a standard metric: Different businesses have varying levels of operating profits. So the operating profit is not a reliable yardstick when comparing the performance of different organizations.

Differences between net, gross, and operating profit

The profits of a business are broadly classified into three types:

  • Gross profit is the amount left over from your revenue after deducting manufacturing costs. It shows the business’s efficiency in production, pricing, and sales.
  • Operating profit is the amount left over after you deduct manufacturing and operating expenses from your net sales. It is a good measure of the financial performance and efficiency of the business.
  • Net profit is the ultimate profit the business retains after deducting all expenditures, including taxes and interest. It accurately measures a firm's ability to convert sales into a profit.

Check out the differences between gross profit vs net profit.

Differences between operating profit and EBITDA

The operating profit and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) are key parameters that help measure a business's profitability. Though they might seem similar, they convey different information. Let's have a closer head-to-head look at the key differences:

Best practices for improving operating profit

Here are a few tips to help you improve your operating profit by reducing operating expenses:

  • Reduce the cost of goods: Negotiate with raw-materials suppliers to get better discounts. Check to see whether you can find another supplier that offers a lower price without compromising on quality or whether your supplier provides a volume discount to reduce procurement costs.
  • Boost staff productivity: According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses lose more than 20% of their productivity due to organizational drag. Evaluate your operational processes to look for ways to optimize them and increase your productivity. You can also consider automating specific tasks that are time-consuming and burdensome.
  • Focus on increasing average order value: This is a great way to increase your overall revenue and, in turn, your profit. Try to provide customers with relevant recommendations and subtly upsell to get them to maximize their spending.
  • Identify and reduce waste: Take a closer look at your business operations. Identify areas of waste. Check if any processes or steps are wasteful, expensive, and time-consuming. Work on eliminating these wasteful processes to lower operating costs and increase profit margins.

Streamline your business’s finances with Ramp

We help your business save time and money by providing you with the best financial tools. At Ramp, we aim to help startups and small-business owners focus more on their core operations by streamlining their finances. Our expense tracker tool makes it easy to track all business expenditures, allowing you to calculate key metrics like operating profit, gross profit, net profit, and more.

Love the idea of simplifying your company's finances? Check out all the features Ramp offers, or try our product for free and put an end to the hassles of manual expense tracking!

The Ramp team is comprised of subject matter experts who are dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes work smarter and faster.

Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


What is the difference between operating profit and EBIT?

Your operating profit is the money left over after you deduct all operating costs from your business’s revenue. EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) is calculated by taking your business’ revenue minus COGS and operating expenses (which includes non-operating income and expenses.)

What is the formula for calculating operating profit?

Operating profit = Revenue - Operating costs - Cost of goods sold - Other day-to-day expenses

Are operating profit and net income the same?

Net income and operating profit are not the same. Net income is operating profit minus interest, tax, and other liabilities.

What is operating profit margin?

Operating profit margin reflects your company’s profitability. The formula is operating profit margin = operating income divided by net sales times 100.

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