Operating Expenses: Overview, Definition and Examples

noviembre 29, 2021 2:06 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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Amanda Jackson has expertise in personal finance, investing, and social services. She is a library professional, transcriptionist, editor, and fact-checker. These expenses are a very important part of doing business and can’t be avoided. If a company incurs relatively higher opex as a percentage of sales compared to its competitors, that may indicate they are less efficient at generating those sales. Below is the list of 6 Operating expenses that come under the Cost of Goods Sold.


Utilities include business expenses from public services such as water, electricity, internet, telephone, sewage, heating and waste disposal. Benefits provided to non-production employees, including insurance, retirement funds, and PTO expenses. Operating expenses are any costs that a business incurs in its day-to-day business. Operating expenses may also be known as Selling, General, and Administrative (SG&A) expenses. They’re the costs a company generates that don’t relate to the production of a product. It is an operating cost for the company to stay in business and compete with the peer groups efficiently.

Though, your business profits increase in the short-term if you choose to reduce specific operating costs. However, such a decision can impact your business earnings in the long-run. Operating costs form a substantial portion of the total production expenses. So, to manage such costs, manufacturing units have to adopt operational cost reduction strategies. These include putting specialized machinery and equipment and evaluating alternatives to machinery. Advertising and public relations costs, such as flyers, brochures, print, radio, and TV ads, are all considered operating expenses.

Operating Expenses: Overview, Definition and Examples

In the same way, the profitability and risk for the same companies are also easier to gauge. Find total operating expenses, which should be further down the income statement. Generally speaking, a company’s management will seek to maximize profits for the company.

If a company is trying to invest in its future and wants to be most efficient with its long-term capital, it might be better for it to invest in CapEx rather than OpEx. Alternatively, if a company wants to preserve capital and maintain flexibility, it might be better off incurring OpEx instead. For many businesses, the desire to achieve maximum value for money on each purchase has to be balanced against the need to maintain reliable cash flow. This can mean that companies make smaller purchases even though they know that buying in volume would be more economical.

Semi-variable costs vary in part with increases or decreases in production, like variable costs, but still exist when production is zero, like fixed costs. This is what primarily differentiates semi-variable costs from fixed costs and variable costs. Non-operating expenses are expenses that do not relate directly to the business’s core operations. The most common examples of non-operating expenses are interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Less common non-operating expenses can also include inventory write-offs, restructuring costs and even settlements for lawsuits. You should know what are operating expenses to increase the profitability and efficiency of your business.

Operating Expenses and Capital Expenditures

Accordingly, there can be two possibilities to increase your business earnings. You can either increase your business revenue or reduce your operating cost. In addition, reviewing your operating expenses can provide you with the following information.

Because cutting costs generally seems like an easier and more accessible way of increasing profits, managers will often be quick to choose this method. There are some operating expenses that occur regardless of the type of business, such as payroll and marketing, while others are specific to certain industries and businesses. The extent of these expenses, though, can vary based on a company’s size or industry. Cost IncurredIncurred Cost refers to an expense that a Company needs to pay in exchange for the usage of a service, product, or asset. This might include direct, indirect, production, operating, & distribution charges incurred for business operations.

How to Cut Operating Costs

Because of their different attributes, each is handled in a distinct manner. Accounting rules may dictate whether an item is classified as CapEx or OpEx. For example, if a company chooses to lease a piece of equipment instead of purchasing it as a capital expenditure, the lease cost would likely be classified as an operating expense. If a company purchased the equipment instead, it would likely capitalize it. As the diagram above illustrates, there are several types of expenses. The most common way to categorize them is into operating vs. non-operating and fixed vs. variable.

  • If a company is trying to invest in its future and wants to be most efficient with its long-term capital, it might be better for it to invest in CapEx rather than OpEx.
  • The average company spends 5 hours each pay period or 21 days each year on payroll processing.
  • Square Terminal is the card machine for everything from managing items and taking payments to printing receipts and getting paid.
  • Operating costs are the result of a company’s operating activities, or activities directly related to selling products or services to customers.
  • Some of the most common operating expenses are those related to compensation as well as sales and marketing.

One of the best ways to determine current and future business success is by regularly examining your operating expenses and making adjustments when needed. Operating expenses are the cost of doing business, such as employee wages, utilities, insurance, and rent, while the cost of goods sold directly relates to the products that are sold. Operating expenses are not directly related to the production of products or services, but instead reflect what it truly costs to open your doors each day. What’s more, increasing sales without a significant increase in operating costs is crucial to growing profits. That’s why understanding OpEx is helpful, as finance teams can drill into expense line items to see outliers and trends and then look for ways to reign those in.

CapEx is also listed in the investing activities section of the cash flow statement. These costs include expenses like rent, utilities, marketing, and salaries. Unlike COGS, operating costs are not directly tied to the production or sale of goods, but they are necessary for running a business. As mentioned earlier, operating expenses are the expenses directly related to your business’s core operations. Hence, the total operating cost of Microsoft Inc must be analyzed over different quarters.

Businesses that compete purely on price may benefit from paring back costs to an absolute minimum. This means they need to keep their costs as low as they reasonably can without compromising on quality. The main disadvantage of OER is that It disregards the business’s debt which would then inflate interest expenses. While monitoring OER trends investors should also compare it with profit and revenue to get a more accurate picture of the business. To calculate the operating cost, you first need to determine the Cost of Goods Sold . The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.

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Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. Above all, such a system will help a business generate accurate financial statements and reports that comply with U.S. For example, business cards, social media, brochures, websites, and TV, print and digital campaigns. An expense is the cost of operations that a company incurs to generate revenue. David Kindness is a Certified Public Accountant and an expert in the fields of financial accounting, corporate and individual tax planning and preparation, and investing and retirement planning.

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This is because the cost of goods sold is directly related to the production of a product, as opposed to daily operations. FreshBooks expense tracking software can help businesses efficiently track and categorize their operating expenses, such as rent, utilities, insurance, and travel expenses. This feature helps businesses stay on top of their operating expenses, monitor their cash flow, and identify areas where they can reduce costs.

How do Operating Costs Affect Profit?

David has helped thousands of clients improve their accounting and financial systems, create budgets, and minimize their taxes. Because these items aren’t part of the company’s core activities and may occur infrequently, it’s helpful to separate them from the business’ results of operations. The disadvantage of looking at a company’s opex is that it is an absolute number, not a ratio. Therefore it is unreasonable to be used as a metric to compare between firms even if they are in the same industry. However, they can be highly instrumental in the horizontal analysis since it can reflect the company’s current performance in the past. Fixed Cost For The CompanyFixed Cost refers to the cost or expense that is not affected by any decrease or increase in the number of units produced or sold over a short-term horizon.


For example, transportation and delivery, raw materials, manufacturing overhead, storage and labor costs are all inventory expenses. Every organization has operating expenses that come with running a business and make it possible to sell goods or services. Compensation and any related payroll tax expenses for any non-production employees like sales reps, front-of-house staff, receptionists, or administrative staff. A variable cost can change, depending on the production and sales levels of products or services. As with any financial metric, operating costs must be compared over multiple reporting periods to get a sense of any trend.

Both bookkeeper definition and OpEx reduce a company’s net income, though they do so in different ways. There is an inherent difference in the way management may approach these two expenditures as well. CapEx is often more expensive and labor-intensive and often requires greater patience to reap rewards. For many reasons, it is important to understand each type of expenditure and how a company may strategically approach either. Alternatively, they may avoid buying items and lease or rent them instead. The additional expense can, however, often be justified by the extra flexibility, improved cash flow and ability to keep cash in hand on the balance sheet.

However, the IRS and most accounting principles distinguish between operating expenses and capital expenditures. A company can better manage its operating expenses when its managers understand the difference between its fixed and variable costs. Apple’s total operating costs must be examined over several quarters to get a sense of whether the company is managing its operating costs effectively.

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A startup often pays for these costs through business loans or money from private investors. This contrasts with operating costs, which are paid for through revenue generated from sales. Variable costs, like the name implies, are comprised of costs that vary with production.

Operating costs include both costs of goods sold and other operating expenses—often called selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses. The operating cost is deducted from revenue to arrive at operating income and is reflected on a company’s income statement. Operating income is a company’s profit after deducting operating expenses such as wages, depreciation, and cost of goods sold. The cost of revenue is the total cost of manufacturing and delivering a product or service and is found in a company’s income statement.

Understanding these expenses will help you create accurate budgets for a nonprofit organization. Once these costs have been deducted, from the company’s operating income the money left over is the company’s net income or net profit. Most, but not all, expenses are deductible from a company’s income to arrive at its taxable income. The most common tax-deductible expenses include depreciation and amortization, rent, salaries, benefits, and wages, marketing, advertising, and promotion.

OER is a very important factor to compare different businesses in the same field. It tells you the amount of the business’s income that is being used for the operation and maintenance of it. This could include legal fees, taxes, utilities, advertising, utilities, payroll, repair, maintenance, etc. The lower the OER, the better managed the business is and the more attractive to an investor or buyer. You then subtract all the operating costs of your business from the gross income to calculate operating profit.

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