Scaling Your Business Requires Understanding Your Unit Economics

Services Business

In the world of business, understanding unit economics is crucial for achieving scalability, profitability, and maintaining overall business health. It provides valuable insights into the financial performance of a company, allowing entrepreneurs and managers to make informed decisions about resource allocation, pricing, and profitability. I spend a decent amount of time talking about this in my coaching, so let's dive into the realm of unit economics and explore how it can transform your business.

Defining the Unit and Its Significance

To embark on the journey of unit economics, the first step is to define the unit that will govern our calculations. This unit could be anything relevant to your business, such as a product, service, or project. Defining the unit is essential because it helps break down the financials into meaningful and measurable data points.

With a clearly defined unit, businesses can easily track revenue, costs, and profits associated with each unit, providing a bird's eye view of the financial health of the company.

For agencies I suggest using Project as your unit instead of Customer because some customers may stick around for years with multiple phases, whereas projects often have fixed lengths. If you have those multi-year engagements, you may want to translate phase into project.

Calculating Average Revenue per Unit

Once we have our unit defined, one of the primary calculations in unit economics is determining the average revenue per unit. This is calculated by dividing the total revenue generated for a specific period by the number of units sold during that same period. In simple terms, it helps us understand the average earning potential of each unit.

For example, if your business generated $100,000 in revenue by selling 10 units, your average revenue per unit would be $10,000 ($100,000 / 10 = $10,000).

Determining Average Cost per Unit

Equally important as average revenue per unit is the calculation of the average cost per unit. This figure represents the average cost necessary to produce one unit of your product or service. It includes both direct costs, such as raw materials and labor, and indirect costs, such as marketing and overhead expenses.

Make sure you are thinking about all your direct and indirect costs here. For example:

  • Salaries
  • Outsourced Staff
  • Effort as a Service (like editing from EditorNinja)
  • Software Licenses
  • Support Staff (Accounting, etc.)
  • Sales (or paid lead fees)
  • Sales Proposals (even for the deals you didn't win)
  • Marketing (ads)

To calculate the average cost per unit, you would divide the total costs incurred in a given period by the number of units produced or sold during that period. This calculation provides valuable insights into the cost structure of your business.

Crunching the Numbers: Analyzing Unit Economics

Now that we have the average revenue and cost per unit, analyzing the results can unveil the true potential of your business. If the average revenue per unit exceeds the average cost per unit, it indicates a positive unit economics outcome. This means that for every unit sold, you generate a profit. On the other hand, if the average revenue per unit matches the average cost per unit, it results in a zero unit economics scenario, where you break even.

By understanding your unit economics, you can identify areas where adjustments can be made to enhance profitability. Strategies such as pricing optimizations, cost reductions, or improved operational efficiencies can positively impact unit economics, leading to an overall healthier bottom line.

Improving Profitability through Unit Economics

Unit economics not only provides a holistic view of your business's financial health but also serves as a compass for guiding strategic decision-making. By considering the insights gained from analyzing unit economics, entrepreneurs and managers can devise actionable plans to improve profitability and scale their business.

For instance, if your unit economics show that the average revenue per unit is significantly higher than the average cost per unit, it may indicate room for expanding marketing efforts to increase sales. Alternatively, if your unit economics reveal a negative margin, it may be time to reconsider pricing strategies, reduce costs, or reevaluate the viability of the unit as a whole.

Taking proactive steps to optimize unit economics can unlock new opportunities for growth, attract investors, and ensure the long-term sustainability of your business.


Understanding unit economics is a critical aspect of running a successful business. It allows you to dissect and analyze the financial performance of each project, providing you with valuable insights to guide your decision-making. By calculating the average revenue and cost per unit, you gain a transparent view of your business's profitability and overall health. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed adjustments to improve unit economics, unlock scalability, and drive your business toward long-term success.

So, don't overlook the power of unit economics. Embrace it; analyze it, and let it guide you on the path to growing your business.