How to Figure Your Break-Even Point

Lesson 7 in the Basic Accounting series:

Your small business’s break-even point is the point where your total revenue received equals your total costs associated with the sale of your product or service...

or a even simpler accounting definition is the point where your business does not make a profit or suffer a loss.

Determining your Break-Even Point:

As small business owners determining our break-even point can be a very handy tool...

in determining how much to charge for our product or service...

or where we might be able to even cut some costs.

But before we start figuring at what point we can break even, let’s go back over some accounting terminology:

  • Variable Costs: These are expenses that are associated with producing your product. They are directly proportioned to the production of your product. For example, if you owned a bakery, your variable cost would be your flour, sugar, etc.
  • Fixed Costs: These are expenses that would be the same even if you did not sell any of your product such as rent, insurance, etc.
  • Unit Selling Price: The price you will be selling a single product or service for.
  • Contribution Margin: The amount generated after the variable expenses have been covered that will contribute toward the fixed expenses

Keeping those accounting definitions in mind, let’s discuss how to conduct a break-even analysis of your small business by using the break-even point formula:

Breakeven Point = Fixed Costs/Unit Selling Price – Variable Costs

Using this formula, you can determine how much of your product you will need to sell to break even. Once you have reached that point you have recouped all your cost that you have generated producing your product both fixed and variable.

Figuring your Contribution Margin:

Another important term used in a break-even analysis, is contribution margin (see definition above).

The formulas for figuring the unit contribution margin is:

Unit Contribution Margin = Unit Selling Price – Unit Variable Cost

Using the formulas above, let’s figure the breakeven point for a fictional bakery that sells cakes. The amounts and assumptions used in this example are also fictional.

We have figured that are variable cost for each cake we sell is $10. If we sell our cakes for $25 the contribution margin per cake would be:

Contribution Margin per cake = $25 minus $10

Contribution Margin per cake = $15

So the contribution margin per cake tells us that after the variable expenses are covered...$15 per cake will go towards paying the fixed expenses. Assuming we have $300 of fixed expenses per week, the point we break even in cakes per week would be:

Breakeven point in cakes per week = Fixed expenses per week divided by Contribution Margin per cake

Breakeven point in cakes per week = $300/$15 per cake

Breakeven point in cakes per week = 20 cakes per week

From this we can see we would need to sell at least 20 cakes a week to break even. To double check this we would use the following schedule:

Projected Net Income for a Week

Sales (20 cakes sold at $25 per cake) = $500 Minus variable expenses (20 cakes at $10 per cake) = $200 Minus fixed expenses =$300 Equals $0 Net Income

Here is a good on-line break-even calculator to help you with your break-even analysis:

Next Section: Lesson 8
Cost Accounting Basics

Previous Section: Financial Ratio Analysis

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