Implicit Costs: Definition, Examples, Formula, Calculation, Meaning

Implicit costs are expenses that appear on a company’s balance sheet and represent the opportunity cost of using resources. Unlike explicit costs, which are actual out-of-pocket payments for goods or services, implicit costs do not involve any cash exchange.

As such, they can be difficult to recognize and measure accurately. Meaningful analysis of implicit costs requires knowledge and experience in the field.

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What is an Implicit Cost

An implicit cost is a cost that already happened but isn’t shown. It’s like an opportunity that was missed because the company used its resources for something without getting paid for it.

Implicit costs remain unseen, yet signify the potential revenue one would have earned. Despite not affecting one’s profit directly, their presence is still felt and should be taken into account when evaluating any business venture.

Implicit costs can also include the depreciation of assets or supplies used within the business. What this means is that any reduction in the value of an item due to its usage could be considered an implicit cost.

This generally happens over some time, so it may not always be apparent until it’s too late.

How Implicit Costs Work

Implicit costs are also called imputed, implied, or notional costs. It is hard to figure out how much these costs are because businesses do not write them down on paper as they do with money.

This means that it is more difficult to understand and measure the effects of implicit costs.

These costs represent a loss of potential income and not the actual money spent by a business. This makes implicit costs different from explicit costs, which are those that result in a direct monetary exchange between two parties.

A company might not make money if they use its resources instead of letting someone else use them, also referred to as an implicit cost.

This means that if a company chooses to use its resources instead of having someone else do it, they are foregoing its potential income from the transaction.

Although implicit costs can’t be tracked in a traditional way such as explicit costs, there is still value in understanding them and taking them into account. This helps businesses make more informed decisions about how best to use their resources.

By doing so, they can maximize their profits while minimizing the potential implicit costs.

Example of Implicit Costs

As an example, let’s say a company owns its factory and produces widgets.

The company has to pay for the workers, materials, and other overhead costs that go into producing the product.

These are all explicit costs incurred by the business, as they involve exchanges of actual money.

However, the company also needs to take into account the implicit cost of not being able to use the factory for any other purpose.

The opportunity cost associated with not being able to rent out the factory is an example of an implicit cost. The company may have missed out on a potential income by using its resources in that way instead of renting them out to someone else.

Implicit costs can also be seen in situations where a company forgoes money-making opportunities.

For example, if a company chooses not to make an investment that would have yielded positive returns, the implicit cost is the income it could have made from that investment.

In this case, the opportunity cost of not investing is the implicit cost incurred by the company.

Overall, implicit costs are an important consideration for any business. They may be difficult to measure, but taking them into account can help businesses maximize their profits and minimize potential losses.


By understanding how implicit costs work and what they represent, businesses can make more informed decisions and be better prepared to manage their resources. This will ensure they are using the most cost-effective strategies that will lead to long-term success. Implicit costs can be difficult to measure, but businesses should still strive to understand them to make informed decisions about their operations and investments.

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