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Operating budget

The operating budget lists the income and expenses that your business generates after startup.

The most important reason for preparing an operating budget is that it enables you to assess whether your personal finances have been properly provided for. You normally prepare an operating budget for a year at a time.

Structure of operating budget

All operating budgets follow this structure:

Sales/revenue (excluding moms /VAT)
- cost of sales/variable costs
= gross profit
- fixed costs
- interest
- depreciation
= profit/your salary

Her is an explanation of the different elements in the operating budget:


The term sales refers to the amount (excluding VAT/moms) that you receive from your customers when they buy a service or product from you.

If you expect to supply a customer with five hours of consultancy work at an hourly rate of DKK 500 excluding value added tax, this service will be entered as revenue of DKK 2,500 in your budget.

The invoice you send your customer will look like this:

Units Amount
5 hours of consultancy work @ DKK 500 DKK 2,500
+ 25% moms DKK 625
To pay DKK 3,125

The reason for your revenue not being DKK 3,125 is that the DKK 625 in value added tax/moms has to be paid to SKAT, the Danish Central Tax Administration.

Cost of sales/variable costs

From your sales, you first have to deduct the costs directly associated with your sales. This means that the more you sell, the higher your direct costs will be.

Selling 50 pairs of trousers also means having the cost of buying 50 pairs of trousers. If you sell 400 pairs of trousers, you will also have to buy and pay for 400 pairs of trousers.

Service businesses

If your business is based on trading in goods, you will have high expenses under this item in the budget. If, on the other hand, you are a psychologist who sells therapy sessions, your variable costs will often be zero.

This will also be the case for many other service businesses, even if there are a few expenses that can be described as direct costs.

If you have a cleaning firm, cleaning materials and detergents can be said to be directly linked to sales.

If you sell analyses that have to be supplied as written reports in five copies, paper is also a direct cost. However, the cost of paper, for example, will be so small relative to your sales that it will be included under fixed costs.

Having high direct costs in your budget is not a problem. It is simply an indication that revenue is high too.

Gross profit

The difference between your sales and your direct costs is called the gross profit or contribution margin. The amount calculated by deducting direct costs from sales is a key figure.

The figure tells you how much money is available to pay for all your fixed costs. If the figure does not cover fixed costs, your business will make a loss.

Fixed costs

You then have to deduct your fixed costs from the contribution margin. Fixed costs are expenses that do not go up or down in direct relation to sales.

Rent is usually a fixed cost, as it is not affected by whether you sell 50 pairs of trousers or 400.

The same applies to many other costs, although the individual expense items may well vary.

A telephone bill is a fixed cost, even though it varies from month to month. This is because the telephone bill is not directly linked to sales volume.

When you price up the things that you believe are necessary in order to run your business, remember that the prices you enter in the operating budget should be exclusive of VAT. This is because what you pay in VAT/moms will be refunded by SKAT, the Danish Central Tax Administration.

Interest and depreciation

If you have taken out a loan in order to start your business, you can deduct the interest on the loan as a business expense. In the case of large investments you can deduct the annual decrease in value as a business expense.

Deducting interest

When you prepared your start-up budget, you may have discovered that you needed to borrow DKK 100,000 from the bank. If the bank agrees to the loan at an annual interest rate of 10%, it means that you can deduct DKK 10,000 in interest.

You cannot, however, deduct the repayments, which have to come out of your own pocket.


If you have to make large investments such as extra powerful computers, a car, real property or costly production equipment, you can deduct the annual decrease in value as a business expense.

Profit - your salary

The pleasure and challenge of having your own business is, of course, enhanced if the business also makes a reasonable profit. And not a profit that only just covers your living costs.

The business should have sufficient financial solidity to be able to survive downturns. The aim should therefore be for your business to generate a profit which not just puts food on the table, but which also provides scope for development and consolidation – and a few extra welfare benefits for the owner.

Profit in a limited company

If you have set up a private limited company (ApS) or entrepreneurial limited company (IVS) the profit is not equal to your salary, as you will be employed as an ordinary salaried employee in your own company.

The Operating Budget

The budget follows the structure explained above.

Sale / Turnover

  • Sale of product / service no. 1
  • Sale of product / service no. 2
  • Sale of product /service no. … Estimate sale for each major product /service

Variable costs

  • Materials - raw materials and finished products which you use for production or sale
  • Salary - only for workers in production
  • Transport costs - and any costs related to transport of the raw materials and finished products

Fixed costs

  • Wages - for staff in shops and offices
  • Rent - for buildings
  • Electricity, heat, water
  • Renovation and maintenance of buildings
  • Cleaning
  • Car service/mileage allowance
  • Travel costs
  • Stationary telephone
  • Postage and charges
  • Mobile phone
  • Internet-connection
  • Website subscription/hosting and upgrading
  • Marketing/advertisement
  • Meeting expenses
  • Insurances
  • Computer equipment
  • Computer network
  • Leasing-expenses
  • Minor purchases
  • Maintenance
  • Accountant
  • Lawyer
  • Other consultancy
  • Unexpected costs (5% of costs)


  • Interest on bank loan
  • Interest on overdraft facility
  • Other interest


  • Plant/buildings
  • Machinery
  • Other things
You will find an excel spreadsheet with a pre-defined Operating budget at Download Center

A-kasse for iværksættere og selvstændige...

Hvorfor stå i en A-kasse, når man er selvstændig?
En A-kasse er en forsikring imod arbejdsløshed der sikrer dig økonomisk.

I Danmark har man mulighed for at modtage forskellige ledighedsydelser, alt efter ens situation, dette gælder også selvstændige.

En af ydelserne hedder dagpenge, dette er den højeste ydelse man kan opnå som ledig, og det er en væsentlig højere sats end kontanthjælp.

Det kræver at man er medlem af en arbejdsløshedskasse, også kaldet en A-kasse.

Så se mere om en a-kasse for selvstændige:

Jamen, jeg er allerede medlem af en anden a-kasse? – Det gør ikke noget, det er nemt nok, Frie opsiger dit medlemsskab og sikrer, at din anciennitet flytter med. Og hvis du har betalt forud får du de penge retur igen.

Så tøv ikke. Se mere her:

Anbefaling godkendt af

I like computer games and I treat business a bit like a computer game. I count money as points. I’m doing really well: making lots of money and lots of points.
– Michael Dunlop


Related articles:
Related articles:
Financing for start-ups
3 important budgets
Establishing budget
Operating budget
Cash budget
Business Plan
Other subjects:
Sales and marketing
Legalise your business
Administration in a company
Financing startup
Personal consideration
Social enterprise