Profit margin is a percentage that expresses how much of a business’ gross revenues are left over as profit after certain expenses are paid. There are three different types of profit margin: gross, operating, and net. However, if someone just mentions “profit margin” without specifying which type, they are probably referring to net profit margin, which is the percentage of a business’s gross revenues that are left over as net profit after all of its expenses are paid. Profit margin is an important concept to understand as a business owner, because it tells you how much profit you can expect to derive from your business’ revenues. While the past isn’t always indicative of future results, and costs obviously tend to increase over time, your historical profit margins can give you some idea of how much profit your business will earn from the next dollar of revenue it generates. For example, if your net profit margin has hovered between 14% and 16% for the past few years, that means that your business could reasonably expect to profit between $140,000 and $160,000 from the next $1,000,000 it generates in revenue. How to calculate profit margin. Profit margin is calculated by dividing a business’ profit over its revenue and expressing the result as a percentage. Here is the general profit margin formula: (Profit / Revenue) x 100 Profit Margin That said, what specifically constitutes “profit” and “revenue” depends on the type of profit margin you’re calculating. Types of profit margin. There are three primary types of profit margin, and each have a different calculation: Gross profit margin Operating profit margin Net profit margin Gross profit margin Gross profit margin is a measure of how much profit a business has after paying only for the direct costs of its sales (Ex: materials and production-specific labor costs). It is calculated by dividing a company’s gross profit (i.e., its revenue minus its cost of goods sold), by its net sales (i.e., its revenue minus discounts and allowances). Overhead costs, administrative salaries, depreciation, debt costs, and taxes are generally not considered in gross profit margin. Here is the formula for gross profit margin: (Gross Profit / Net Sales) x 100 Gross Profit Margin Operating profit margin Operating profit margin is a measure of how much profit a business has after paying not only for its direct costs of sales, but also operating expenses like overhead costs, administrative salaries, and depreciation. Debt costs and taxes are typically excluded. Here is the formula for operating profit margin: (Operating Income / Revenue) x 100 Operating Profit Margin Net profit margin Net profit margin is a measure of how much profit a business has after paying all of its expenses. Here is the formula for net profit margin: (Net Profit / Revenue) x 100 Net Profit Margin What is a good profit margin? There is no one percentage that is a universally good profit margin. Rather, business owners should think in terms of what is an appropriate margin for their business’ size, stage, and industry. For example, small businesses generally have higher profit margins than large businesses. For a solopreneur who is doing everything in their business, a “good” profit margin is likely quite high, perhaps exceeding 90%. But for a large corporation with dozens or thousands of employees and significant overhead costs, the profit margin may be much lower, perhaps 10% or less. Does this mean that the solopreneur’s business’ 90% profit margin is better than the large corporation’s 10% profit margin, simply because it’s higher? No. What matters is that the profit margin is appropriate for your particular business’ characteristics and industry.