Understanding Business Operating Expenses: What to Include and Impact

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses are the type of expenses a business incurs to keep it going. These expenses carry out the activities of a company. A company represents the operating expenses on its balance sheet under the category of liabilities and refers to them as selling expenses, general expenses, or administrative expenses.

Accounting Software helps calculate operating expenses to automate the process of tracking, recording, and classifying expenses.

It includes wages of staff and office supplies. Operating expenses exclude the cost of:

  •  goods sold (materials, direct work, producing overhead)
  • capital consumption (higher prices, for example, structures or machines). 

This article covers: 

What to Include in Operating Expenses? 

Different factors increase the operating expenses of a business.


  • Finance for staff (barring work for assembling) 
  • Payroll
  • Payroll taxes
  • Insurance costs
  • License expenses 
  • Building Lease
  • Research  
  • Marketing expenses (counting for social channels like Facebook)
  • Advertising costs
  • Bookkeeping charges 
  • Income Taxes
  • Building maintenance expenses 
  • Office Supplies 
  • Utility costs
  • Legal work expenses 
  • Raw materials
  • Maintenance
  • Repair costs
  • Equipment costs
  • Property charges 
  • Inventory costs
  • Vehicle expenses 
  • Travel expenses

The income statement of a company presents all the operating expenses. 

What Does an Increase in Operating Expenses Mean? 

An increase in operating expenses decreases the profit of a business. Frequently operating expenses need checks and balances by an organization, as these are fluctuating expenses compared to the operational ones.

A business administration should decrease operating expenses by evaluating the business or permitting some current staff to work online at home. It spares some space in the workplace. 

Management can control operating expenses by hiring freshers on low wages or decreasing extra expenses at the workplace.

What Are Non-Operating Expenses?

Non-operating expenses have no direct links with an organization’s business activities. They include costs for: 

  • Devaluation (a reduction in the value of assets over time)
  • Amortization (gradually writing-off the initial cost of assets)
  • Bank fees (counting revenue charges)
  • Claim installments and related expenses 
  • Cash trade expenses 
  • Rebuilding costs 
  • Out-of-date stock (items that are not for sale) 

Are Operating Expenses Included in COGS? 

Operating expenses and the cost of goods sold are there on an organization’s income statement. So they are excluded from COGS. It’s because the cost of items sold is directly proportional to the production of goods. 

It illustrates:

Cost of goods sold  ∝  Production of goods.

Operating Expense Ratio 

The Operating Expense Ratio (OER) shows the relation between the cost of property and the income it brings. The ratio is popular to use in real estates, such as with organizations that rent out units. 

A low OER implies spending less money on operating expenses. OER can likewise utilize to measure the difference in operating expenses between two properties.

For example, 

If an organization possesses two comparable plants in Nevada, with comparative yields, and one’s OER is 25% more than the other, the board should examine its root cause. 

Are Wages Operating Expenses? 

Full-time staff wages or hourly wages are the operating expenses of a business. These are the regulatory expenses. 

The particular costs for hiring workers to produce goods are determined independently, under the price of goods sold, and are not operating expenses. Operating expenses significantly impact the overall expenditure and profit of a business.

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