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Economic Profit vs. Normal Profit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on March 1, 2024
Economic profit is total revenue minus total costs (including opportunity costs), while normal profit is the minimum profit needed to keep a firm in business.

Key Differences

Economic profit is a measure of profitability that includes all costs, both explicit and implicit. It represents the surplus after covering all costs, including opportunity costs. Normal profit, on the other hand, is the level of profit that business owners consider just enough to keep them engaged in the current venture, essentially the break-even point.
Economic profit is calculated by subtracting both explicit (like wages, rent) and implicit costs (like opportunity costs of capital) from total revenue. Normal profit is part of the firm's total costs and is the profit level at which the firm's economic profit is zero, indicating that all costs, including opportunity costs, are covered.
Economic profit is a key indicator for understanding the overall profitability of a business, including the cost of missed opportunities. A positive economic profit implies a firm is exceeding the break-even point. Normal profit, in contrast, indicates a firm is just meeting its total costs, serving as a baseline for business sustainability.
Sustained economic profits can indicate a competitive advantage and potential for growth, encouraging further investment and expansion. Normal profit, while indicating stability, does not provide the same incentive for expansion but suggests that the firm is meeting its essential financial commitments.
Economic profit can attract new entrants to a market, as it suggests the potential for above-average returns. In contrast, a market where firms are only making normal profits is less attractive for new entrants, as it suggests only average returns are available.

Comparison Chart


Excess of total revenue over total costs (including opportunity costs)
Break-even profit level covering explicit and implicit costs


Total Revenue - (Explicit + Implicit Costs)
Calculated as part of total costs; Revenue - Explicit Costs

Indicator of

Overall profitability and efficiency
Minimum viability and sustainability of a business

Impact on Business

Motivates expansion, innovation
Indicates stability, no immediate growth

Market Implication

Attracts new entrants, suggests high returns
Indicates stable market, average returns

Economic Profit and Normal Profit Definitions

Economic Profit

Economic profit is a comprehensive measure of true profitability.
Despite high sales, the economic profit was modest, reflecting high opportunity costs.

Normal Profit

Normal profit indicates no economic profit or loss.
The shop's normal profit meant it was neither particularly successful nor failing.

Economic Profit

Economic profit is used to assess the efficiency of resource utilization.
The firm's high economic profit indicated excellent resource management.

Normal Profit

Normal profit is the break-even point in economic terms.
Achieving normal profit, the café covered its costs but had no extra earnings.

Economic Profit

Economic profit reflects the opportunity costs of a business decision.
Their economic profit was low, suggesting other investments might have been more lucrative.

Normal Profit

Normal profit is when total revenues equal total implicit and explicit costs.
The firm’s normal profit indicated it was just managing to cover its comprehensive costs.

Economic Profit

Economic profit is the surplus after covering all explicit and implicit costs.
The company's economic profit was substantial, indicating they not only covered costs but also earned significantly from their investment.

Normal Profit

Normal profit is the minimum earnings to keep a business operational.
The startup achieved normal profit, ensuring its survival in the competitive market.

Economic Profit

Economic profit includes non-monetary costs like time and effort.
Her economic profit was minimal when accounting for the time she invested.

Normal Profit

Normal profit equals the opportunity cost of a business owner’s resources.
His business generated just normal profit, equal to what he'd earn in a salaried job.


Why is economic profit important?

It shows the true profitability of a business, including opportunity costs.

Can a business have high revenue but low economic profit?

Yes, if the implicit and explicit costs are high.

What is economic profit?

It's the profit after subtracting both explicit and implicit costs from total revenue.

How is normal profit different from economic profit?

Normal profit is the break-even point, whereas economic profit indicates surplus earnings.

What role does normal profit play in pricing?

It helps in setting prices to at least cover all costs.

What does negative economic profit imply?

The firm is not covering its total costs, including opportunity costs.

How do businesses use economic profit?

To assess overall efficiency and decide on future investments.

Is normal profit a good sign for a business?

Yes, it indicates the business is sustainable but not necessarily growing.

Does economic profit consider opportunity cost?

Yes, it includes all explicit and implicit costs.

Can economic profit be negative while normal profit is positive?

No, if economic profit is negative, normal profit can't be positive.

Is it possible to have zero economic profit but positive normal profit?

Yes, it means the firm is just covering all its costs, no more, no less.

Why might a firm aim for economic profit?

For potential growth, reinvestment, and competitive advantage.

Does economic profit influence market entry?

Yes, high economic profit can attract new competitors.

Can a firm survive with only normal profit?

Yes, but it limits potential for growth and expansion.

How does market competition affect economic profit?

High competition often reduces economic profit.

Is normal profit the same as accounting profit?

No, accounting profit doesn’t include opportunity costs.

What's the key takeaway for entrepreneurs regarding these profits?

Aim for economic profit for growth, but maintain at least normal profit for sustainability.

Can normal profit change over time?

Yes, based on costs and market conditions.

Do investors prefer companies with high economic profit?

Generally yes, as it indicates better return potential.

What indicates a healthy economic profit margin?

A margin significantly above the industry average.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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