FinancesFinance terms for small business owners

Finance terms for small business owners

COGS (Cost of goods sold)

The term “cost of goods sold” (COGS) refers to the direct expenses incurred by a business in producing or providing its goods or services. It includes the cost of materials, staff costs, and other expenses directly associated with the production process. COGS is an important financial metric that helps determine the profitability of a business. Calculating the COGS allows businesses to track and analyze the costs involved in creating their products or services. For example, if a bakery sells a loaf of bread, the cost of the flour, yeast, and other ingredients used to make that loaf would be part of its COGS.

Gross profit

Gross profit refers to the financial metric that measures the profitability of a company’s core operations. It is calculated by subtracting the cost of goods sold (COGS) from the total revenue generated from sales. Gross profit is a crucial indicator of a company’s ability to generate revenue and manage its production costs effectively.

For example, let’s say a company sells t-shirts. If the total revenue generated from t-shirt sales is £10,000, and the COGS, including material costs and your staff costs, is £5,000, then the gross profit would be £5,000 (£10,000 – £5,000).

Gross profit is an essential figure for businesses as it helps assess their profitability before considering other expenses such as overhead costs and taxes. It also provides insights into the efficiency of a company’s production and pricing strategies.


Overhead costs refer to the expenses incurred by a business that are not directly tied to the production of goods or services. These costs are essential for running the operations and maintaining the organization’s infrastructure. They typically include expenses related to rent, utilities, insurance, salaries of non-production staff, office supplies, and equipment maintenance. For instance, a manufacturing company may have overhead costs such as rent for the factory building, salaries of administrative staff, and utility costs such as electricity and water. In contrast, direct costs, like raw materials and staff costs directly involved in the production process, are not considered overhead costs. Identifying and managing overhead costs effectively is crucial for businesses to optimize their financial performance and profitability.


Revenue is the amount of money generated from sales or other business activities. It is a key financial metric that indicates the total income a company earns during a specific period. Revenue is crucial for businesses as it directly impacts their profitability and growth. It can come from various sources such as product sales, services, subscriptions, licensing fees, advertising, and more. For example, a retail store’s revenue would be the total sales made from selling products, while a software company’s revenue would include sales of their software licenses or subscriptions. Monitoring and optimizing revenue is essential for businesses to assess their financial performance and make informed decisions to drive growth.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

VAT, or Value Added Tax, is a type of consumption tax that is added to the price of goods and services. It is a widely used tax system in many countries, including the United Kingdom, European Union, and several others around the world. VAT is typically included in the price of a product or service, and businesses are responsible for collecting and remitting the tax to the government. For example, if a product is sold for £100 with a VAT rate of 20%, the price including VAT would be £120. VAT plays a significant role in generating revenue for governments and is an essential component of their tax systems.

Written by

Anna Thornhill
Anna Thornhill
Anna Thornhill is one of our expert writers. Anna is our specialist editor covering business growth and marketing and makes it her mission to provide small business owners with practical guides that help you step-by-step to grow your business. Anna’s an experienced sales and marketing professional who moved to writing and editorial and helps startups and small business owners with practical advice in growing their business with the latest sales and marketing techniques plus guides to choosing and using sales and marketing technology.

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