5 minutes read
The Battle of the Costs: Variable Cost Vs Fixed Cost
Costs play a pivotal role in business profitability. Variable costs fluctuate with production/sales, affecting profit margins. Fixed costs remain constant, ensuring stability but becoming a burden during low activity. Balance between variable and fixed costs is crucial. Choose based on market competitiveness and business stability, aiming for optimal cost levels to achieve goals.
Published on 23 Aug 2023
Table of Contents
Costs are one of the most important components of any business. They determine the profitability of a business and can make or break it. Understanding the different types of costs and their impact on the business is critical. In this article, we will discuss the two main types of costs – variable cost vs fixed cost – and their pros and cons. We will also determine which one wins in the battle of the costs.
Understanding Variable Costs
Variable costs are costs that change with the level of production or sales. In other words, variable costs increase when production/sales increase and decrease when production/sales decrease. Variable costs are directly proportional to the level of activity.
Examples of variable costs include raw materials, direct labour, sales commissions, and shipping costs. If a business produces more products, it will require more raw materials and direct labour, which will increase variable costs. If a business sells more products, it will have to pay more in sales commissions and shipping costs, which will also increase variable costs.
Variable costs are important because they help businesses understand the cost of producing/selling each product. By knowing the variable cost per unit, businesses can determine the selling price of the product and the profit margin.
What are Fixed Costs?
Fixed costs are costs that do not change with the level of production or sales. In other words, fixed costs remain constant regardless of the level of activity. Fixed costs are usually incurred to keep the business running, and they are not directly related to the production/sales volume.
Examples of fixed costs include rent, salaries, insurance, and property taxes. These costs do not change with the level of production/sales and are incurred regardless of the business’s performance.
Calculating Variable Costs
Calculating variable costs is relatively easy. All you need is to identify the variable cost per unit and multiply it by the number of units produced/sold. For example, if the variable cost per unit is $10 and the business produces/sells 100 units, the total variable cost would be $1,000 (10 x 100).
Calculating Fixed Costs
Calculating fixed costs is also easy. You need to identify all fixed costs and add them up. For example, if the fixed costs of a business are rent ($1,000), salaries ($2,000), insurance ($500), and property taxes ($300), the total fixed cost would be $3,800.
Variable Cost vs Fixed Cost – What’s the Difference?
The main difference between variable costs and fixed costs is that variable costs change with the level of production/sales, while fixed costs remain constant. Variable costs are directly related to the level of activity, while fixed costs are not.
Variable costs are important because they help businesses determine the cost of producing/selling each unit, which is essential in determining the selling price and profit margin. Fixed costs are important because they are necessary to keep the business running, regardless of the level of activity.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Variable Costs
One of the advantages of variable costs is that they are flexible. If production/sales are low, variable costs will also be low, which means that the business will not have to incur high costs. Variable costs also allow businesses to adjust the selling price of the product, which can be beneficial in a competitive market.
However, variable costs can also be unpredictable. If the cost of raw materials increases suddenly, the variable cost per unit will also increase, which can affect the selling price and profit margin. Variable costs can also be difficult to control if the business is not managed effectively.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fixed Costs
One of the advantages of fixed costs is that they are predictable. Fixed costs do not change with the level of activity, which means that businesses can plan and budget more effectively. Fixed costs also provide stability to the business, which can be beneficial in the long run.
However, fixed costs can also be a burden on the business if the level of activity is low. If the business is not generating enough revenue, fixed costs can become a financial liability. Fixed costs can also limit the flexibility of the business, as they cannot be easily adjusted.
Which One Wins – Variable Cost Vs Fixed Cost?
The answer to this question depends on the nature of the business and its goals. If the business is in a highly competitive market, variable costs may be more beneficial, as they allow the business to adjust the selling price and profit margin. If the business is more stable and has a consistent level of activity, fixed costs may be more beneficial, as they provide stability and predictability.
In general, businesses should aim to strike a balance between variable and fixed costs. They should identify the variable and fixed costs and determine the optimal level of each. This will help businesses achieve their goals while maintaining financial stability.
The battle of the costs – variable cost vs fixed cost – is an important one for businesses. Understanding the differences between variable and fixed costs is critical in determining the profitability of the business. Variable costs are flexible and directly related to the level of activity, while fixed costs are predictable and necessary to keep the business running.
Both variable and fixed costs have their advantages and disadvantages, and the optimal level of each depends on the nature of the business and its goals. Businesses should aim to strike a balance between variable and fixed costs to achieve their goals while maintaining financial stability.
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