Calculate the Break-Even Point: Mastering the Break Even Point Formula

11 minute read

Calculate the Break-Even Point: Mastering the Break-Even Point Formula To Fuel Your Business's Growth



Picture your business as a farmer tending to a crop, diligently nurturing it from seedling to harvest. Every investment in soil, water, and care is a calculated risk, with the ultimate goal of reaching the point where the yield outweighs the input—the break-even point. 

Just as a farmer assesses weather patterns and soil conditions to optimize growth, entrepreneurs analyze market trends and cost structures, aiming to cultivate a harvest of profits that sustains and nourishes their enterprise.

Set your business up for success by learning the break-even point.

How to Calculate the Break-Even Point

When a company wants to know how much they need to sell to cover all their costs, they look at the break-even point. It's like finding out how many cookies you need to sell at your stand to pay back the money it took to make them. Let's dive into how to figure this out in a simple way.

Formula Description
Break-even point (units) = Fixed costs / (Price per unit - Variable cost per unit) This formula calculates the number of units that need to be sold to cover all fixed and variable costs, resulting in neither profit nor loss.


  • Fixed Costs: These are expenses that do not change with the level of production, such as rent, salaries, and insurance.
  • Variable Costs: These are expenses that change with the level of production, such as raw materials, labor, and utilities.
  • Price per Unit: This is the selling price of your product or service.
  • Variable Cost per Unit: This is the variable cost associated with producing or delivering one unit of your product or service.


Let's say a company has the following costs:

  • Fixed costs: $10,000 per month
  • Variable cost per unit: $5
  • Price per unit: $10

Using the formula, the break-even point in units is:

Break-even point (units) = $10,000 / ($10 - $5) = $10,000 / $5 = 2,000 units

Understanding the Break-Even Point Calculation

The break-even point is a special spot for a business. It's when the company doesn't lose money, but it also doesn't make money. To find this point, you need to use some math, but don't worry, it's not too hard. We look at how much everything costs and how much we sell things for. Analysis is often done by an accountant, but we'll break it down to make it easy to understand.

Determining Fixed and Variable Costs

Costs are like the ingredients for making cookies. Fixed costs are costs that don't change, like the rent for your cookie stand. Variable costs change depending on how many cookies you make, like the sugar and flour. If a company sells a product for $100 and its variable cost per unit is $60, then the variable cost is what changes with each thing made. Knowing these costs helps us figure out how much we need to sell to reach our break-even point.

Calculating the Contribution Margin

The contribution margin is a key piece in the puzzle. It's found by taking the price you sell something for per unit minus variable costs per unit sold. This tells you how much money from each sale is left over to cover fixed costs. For example, if you sell a cookie for $2 and the ingredients (variable costs) to make it are $1, your contribution margin is $1. This $1 helps pay for the fixed costs like your stand. The more you sell, the quicker you cover your costs and reach your break-even point.

By understanding these steps, calculating the breakeven point becomes a lot easier. It's all about knowing your costs and how much you make from each sale. This way, you can plan better and make your business or cookie stand successful by aiming to increase the number of units sold.

Further Reading: What You Need To Know About Cost Volume Profit (CVP) Analysis

Importance of Break-Even Analysis

Break-even analysis is like a tool that helps a business find out when it will start to make money instead of losing it. It's very important for knowing how many things you need to sell before you can say, "We're not losing money anymore!" Let's see why this is super useful for anyone running a business.

Analyzing the Relationship Between Fixed and Variable Costs

Fixed and variable costs are like two sides of a coin in business. Fixed costs are costs that stay the same, no matter how many items you make or sell, like the rent for your store. Variable costs change based on how much you produce, like the materials you need. To do well in business, you need to understand how these two costs work together. This helps you figure out how much money you need to bring in to cover all your costs.

Determining the Number of Units Needed to Break Even

To find out how many units (like toys, books, or cookies) you need to sell to break even, you need to use a special formula. This formula looks at your fixed costs, variable costs, and how much you sell your product for. By doing this, you can figure out the exact number of units you need to sell before you start making a profit. This number is super important for planning and making sure your business is on the right track.

Examples of Fixed Costs in Break-Even Analysis

Fixed costs can be things like the rent for your building, salaries for your employees (if they get paid the same amount no matter what), and insurance. These are expenses that don't change, even if you make more or less of your product.

Knowing your fixed costs is a big part of break-even analysis because you need to cover these costs no matter what. This helps you understand how much money you need to make from selling your products to not lose money.

Break-even analysis is a smart way for businesses to plan ahead. It shows you how fixed and variable costs affect your business, tells you how many things you need to sell to start making money, and helps you understand your costs better. This is why people running businesses often use it to make smart decisions.

Further Reading: What Is The Contribution Margin Income Statement

Key Components of Break-Even Point Formula

Understanding the break-even point formula is like learning how to balance on a seesaw. It helps a business find out when they will neither lose money nor make money. It's all about balancing costs with the money you make from selling things. Let's explore the main parts you need to know to make this calculation simple and clear.

Break-Even Point in Units

The break-even point in units tells us how many items, like toys or cookies, a business needs to sell to cover all its costs. To find this, we use a formula that helps us see the exact number of things we need to sell. It's like knowing how many lemonades you need to sell at your stand to pay back the money it cost to make them.

Calculating the Contribution Margin Per Unit

The contribution margin per unit is like the money you get to keep from selling one item after paying for its ingredients or parts. First, you find the difference between the sales price per unit and the variable cost per unit. This amount helps pay for the fixed costs, dividing the fixed costs by the contribution margin to determine how many units we need to sell. Once those are covered, what's left is your profit. So, if you sell a toy for $10 and it costs $6 to make, your contribution margin is $4.

Factors Affecting the Break-Even Point Calculation

Several things can change where the break-even point is. These include the fixed costs (like rent and salaries that don't change), variable costs (the costs that go up or down depending on how much you make), and the selling price of your product.

If any of these change, the number of units you need to sell to break even will also change. It's important to keep an eye on these factors because they help you understand how to reach your goal of making a profit.

In short, the break-even point formula is a handy tool for businesses. It uses the break-even point in units, the contribution margin per unit, and considers various factors that affect the calculation.

By understanding and using this formula, businesses can figure out how many products they need to sell to start making money. This way, they can plan better and make smart decisions for their future.

Further Reading: Guide To Calculating Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for Your Business

Tips for Mastering Break-Even Point Calculation

Figuring out the break-even point is like solving a puzzle. It's about knowing when your business will start making money instead of spending it. To get good at this, there are some smart moves you can make. Let's look at ways to manage costs and set prices so you can reach your goal faster by understanding how to incur lower costs and calculate the break-even point efficiently.

Strategies to Lower Variable Costs

Variable costs go up and down based on how much you make or sell. Think about things like raw materials or production costs. If you can spend less on these, you'll keep more money from each sale, enhancing your ability to generate higher earnings. Here are some ideas to reduce total variable costs and increase the number of units sold:

  • Buy materials in bulk to get them cheaper.
  • Find ways to make your product with less waste.
  • Work on making your process more efficient.

Lowering these costs means you can make more money from what you sell, helping you reach your break-even point quicker.

Setting the Right Sales Price Per Unit

The price you sell your stuff for is super important. It needs to be high enough to cover your costs and leave you some profit, but not so high that nobody wants to buy it. Here's how to set a good price:

  • Understand what it costs to make your product.
  • Look at what similar products cost.
  • Think about what makes your product special and how much extra people would pay for that, considering the total variable costs incurred.

Setting the right price, which is the price per unit minus variable costs, helps you make a profit and sell enough to cover all your costs.

Reaching the Break-Even Point Faster

To get to the break-even point quicker, focus on both cutting costs and making smart decisions about prices. Here are some final tips:

  • Keep an eye on both fixed and variable costs, and how the number of units sold affects your ability to cover these expenses. Find ways to reduce them without hurting quality.
  • Think about launching a new product that could be profitable.
  • Increase your profit margin by finding the sweet spot for your selling price.

Remember, the goal is to sell enough units at the right price to cover all your costs and start making a profit by closely monitoring the price per unit minus variable costs. By focusing on lowering costs and setting smart prices, you can hit your break-even point faster and start seeing real profitability for your business.

Further Reading: What is Cost Segregation and How You Can Benefit

Key Terms to Remember:

  1. Break-Even Point: It's like the moment in a video game where you've earned back all the coins you spent to play, so you're not losing or winning yet.
  2. Fixed Costs: These are costs that don't change no matter how much you sell, like paying rent for your lemonade stand.
  3. Variable Costs: These are costs that go up or down based on how many items you make or sell, like how much sugar you need for more lemonade.
  4. Sales Price Per Unit: This is how much money you ask for one thing you're selling, like one cup of lemonade.
  5. Variable Cost Per Unit: This is how much it costs to make one thing, like how much sugar, water, and lemon go into one cup of lemonade.
  6. Contribution Margin: It's like the money you have left after paying to make your product, which you can then use to cover your fixed costs or save.
  7. Total Revenue: This is all the money you get from selling your stuff, like all the money from every cup of lemonade sold.
  8. Profit Margin: This tells you how much money you really make after all your costs, like how much you keep from your lemonade sales after paying for sugar and cups.
  9. Net Profit: This is the money you have left after paying all your costs, like what's left in your piggy bank after the lemonade stand closes.
  10. Production Costs and their impact on the price per unit minus variable costs.: These are the costs to make your product, including the materials and work, like everything that goes into making lemonade.

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February 28, 2024


Kristal Sepulveda, CPA

Kristal Sepulveda, CPA


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