Fact Checked

What is Gross Profit?

Jen Whitten
Jen Whitten

Business owners and managers involved in the financial management of a company use a variety of numbers and ratios to assess that company's financial position. Gross profit is a term to describe the money left over from the sale of products after subtracting the cost of goods sold without taking out the money needed to pay operating expenses. Knowing how much is left from each sale to pay salaries and other fixed expenses helps leaders determine the financial health and viability of the operation.

To calculate gross profit, one should first understand what comprises the cost of goods sold. Not every expense a company incurs qualifies for this figure. Only those costs directly related to the production of the product is used. As a rule of thumb, if the cost in question varies in relation to the number of products produced, it is a variable cost, and thus appropriate for inclusion in cost of goods sold.

Sales profits minus costs equals gross profit.
Sales profits minus costs equals gross profit.

Production efficiency is determined using this measurement as a base. Gross profit margin, ratio, and percentage all represent the same calculation. These calculations are reached by dividing gross profit by the total revenue. For example, if the gross profit is $1,000 US Dollars (USD) and the total revenue is $2,000 USD, the gross profit margin is 50 or 50%.

Business executives use this margin to evaluate the efficiency of the company as a whole and, in some cases, particular business units or products. As only two variables play a role in this figure, there are only two ways to influence it. An increase in price or a decrease in costs increases gross profit, while a decrease in price or an increase in costs will decrease it.

When tracked over time, increases in gross profit indicate the company is more efficient at making money based upon the products sold. This does not necessarily equate to larger profits for the company, however, because factors like employee salaries, taxes, and rent can increase to eat away at the net profits. On the other hand, if the trend is a steady decrease in gross profit, company officials may deem it necessary to discontinue a product or revamp the way in which they run the company. Gross profit is a required element of the income statement in the United States, and should have a separate line to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) rules and standards.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Great post that helps explain how important it is to know what gross profit actually means. I also had problems understanding gross profit and looked into making it easier to work out. So I created an iPhone app to help do just that.


@watson42, that is very true. As a freelance writer, I see the importance of timing as perhaps the most significant part of determining my gross operating profit. While I may not pay anyone else for labor or materials, I often have to put significant hours into work every day finishing projects. If that time could also have been spent grocery shopping, cooking, working out, or any of the other things I also have to do in my life, it does affect my gross profit formula.


It's important to know that when calculating gross profit, the definition means the profit after all operating expenses. One thing in particular that many new business owners forget about is the importance of calculating the value of the time you spend. In many jobs, such as teaching for example, your pay might seem good until looking at how much time is spent both inside and outside the classroom. Many teachers find they're working for less than minimum wage once they factor in outside time. The same holds true for business owners.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Sales profits minus costs equals gross profit.
      By: Dmitry
      Sales profits minus costs equals gross profit.