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Jul 28, 2023 · 4 min read

What is a Break-Even Point and How to Calculate it Correctly

The Break-even point (BEP) is a tool that helps companies estimate when they will start making a profit. Explore what is the break-even point and how to calculate it correctly!

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The world of business is filled with terms and concepts that might seem daunting at first. One of these is the Break-Even Point (BEP). However, it needn't be intimidating. This article aims to simplify the concept of the break-even point, making it easily understandable and applicable to your business operations. Let's delve in!

Introduction to the Break-Even Point

The break-even point is a critical financial metric that businesses use to determine when they will start turning a profit. It's a juncture where total costs equal total revenue. In other words, it's the stage at which a business neither makes a profit nor incurs a loss. Understanding when and how this point occurs can be instrumental in mapping out successful business strategies.

The Importance of the Break-Even Point

Why should businesses care about their break-even point? Knowing your BEP is like having a financial compass. It offers insights into:

  • The number of products or services needed to be sold to cover costs
  • How changes in pricing can affect profitability
  • When new products or services start generating profit

Moreover, the break-even point is also a useful tool for securing funding. Investors and lenders often want to know when they can expect a return on their investment. By presenting a realistic break-even point, businesses can demonstrate their potential for profitability.

Calculating the Break-Even Point: A Two-Pronged Approach

The break-even point can be calculated in two ways: in terms of units or in terms of sales revenue.

Calculating the Break-Even Point in Units

This calculation tells you how many units of a product you need to sell to cover your costs. The formula is:

Break-Even Point (Units) = Fixed Costs ÷ (Selling Price per Unit - Variable Cost per Unit)

Calculating the Break-Even Point in Sales Revenue

This approach tells you how much sales revenue you need to generate to cover your costs. The formula is:

Break-Even Point (Sales Revenue) = Fixed Costs ÷ Contribution Margin

The contribution margin is the selling price of a product minus the variable costs associated with producing that product.

Understanding Fixed and Variable Costs

In order to calculate the break-even point, you need to understand your costs, which are typically broken down into fixed and variable costs.

Fixed Costs: These are expenses that remain constant, regardless of the level of production or sales. Examples include rent, insurance, salaries, and depreciation.
Variable Costs: These are costs that fluctuate depending on the level of production or sales. Examples include raw materials, direct labor costs, and sales commissions.

Break-Even Analysis: Practical Examples

Let's consider a practical example to understand how the break-even point works.

Imagine that you own a bakery. Your fixed costs, including rent, utilities, and salaries, amount to $10,000 per month. You sell cakes at $20 each, and the variable costs (ingredients, packaging, etc.) per cake are $5.

To calculate the break-even point in units, you'd use the formula:
Break-Even Point (Units) = $10,000 ÷ ($20 - $5) = 666.67 units
This means you need to sell approximately 667 cakes in a month to break even.

To calculate the break-even point in sales revenue, you'd use the formula:
Break-Even Point (Sales Revenue) = $10,000 ÷ (($20-$5)/$20) = $13,333.33
This means you need to generate approximately $13,334 in sales revenue in a month to break even.

Break-Even Point: Key Considerations

When conducting a break-even analysis, it's important to keep in mind that many of the numbers used in the calculation are estimates. Market conditions, fluctuating costs, and other unexpected factors can affect these numbers.

Also, while reaching the break-even point is an essential goal, it's not the end of the journey. Businesses should aim to surpass the break-even point to achieve profitability and ensure sustainable growth.


Understanding and calculating the break-even point is a crucial aspect of business management. It helps businesses set realistic pricing strategies, make informed decisions about product launches, and gauge when they can expect to start making a profit. While the concept might seem complex at first, with a bit of practice and understanding, it becomes an invaluable tool in the business owner's toolkit.

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