written by | August 1, 2022

The Detailed Concept of Opportunity Cost: Definition And Examples

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There are limited resources available, and when you choose one over the other, you let go of other options. The process that indicates giving up a resource to gain a desirable resource is often referred to as opportunity costing. This is the key aspect that decides the possibilities, and as a result, it also decides the costs and the trade-offs. One definition of opportunity cost is the potential lost advantage due to choosing a different course of action. Alternatively, one might say it is giving up a potential advantage due to a preference change. 

The restricted number of resources you can access will also limit your range of manufacturing options. It is necessary to rule out the production of every other possible combination of items used in the production, to ensure the production of a certain combination of goods.

The promoters and business analysts frequently turn to the concept of opportunity cost when conducting feasibility studies and determining which policy options should be prioritised. It is because the concept provides a framework for weighing the benefits and drawbacks of alternative courses of action.

Did you know? The idea of opportunity cost is developed from the realistic notion that there are finite amounts of resources, serving as the concept's beginning point.

What Does It Mean to Have an Opportunity Cost?

Opportunity cost definition: It is the potential income lost due to choosing one course of action over another. It is measured in terms of the amount of revenue that might have been earned had a different decision been made. 

Also read: What is Fair Value Accounting? Fair Value Meaning, Calculation & Advantages

Concept of Opportunity Cost

When you explain opportunity cost, the term refers to the potential gain lost due to selecting a different course of action when contemplating several potential investments or business prospects. When picking between two or more options, it is important to consider the opportunity cost. There will always be a cost involved with choosing one over another.  This is what is meant by opportunity costing means and it applies regardless of choice.

Take into account the example of opportunity cost: 

A person will be said to have incurred an opportunity cost if, for instance, they choose to invest their money in one project rather than another. It is because the amount of money that person could have made by investing the same amount in the most lucrative alternative business is known as the opportunity cost.

It is necessary to have a thorough grasp of the concept of opportunity cost since it may have huge consequences in both business and daily life. 

You will incur what is known as an "opportunity cost" if you choose to eliminate a better alternative in favour of a worse one. An opportunity cost is a potential loss you will suffer as a consequence of such a decision. It is a concept that can be applied in a variety of contexts, such as 

  • When a business decides which initiatives to pursue
  • When an employee weighs whether or not to put in extra hours or spend more time with their family
  • When an investor decides whether or not to invest in an index fund instead of managing their portfolio. 

Examples Where Opportunity Cost Can Be Applied

It is common practice to fail to account for the opportunity costs since the advantages often do not materialise, which leads them to be obscured from sight.

Jacob produces radios and TVs. The table shows how much Jacob can produce for each good. Using all of Jacob's resources, he could create 4 radios but no TVs. If he's not creating 4 radios, he could manufacture 6 TVs. If he puts all his efforts into TVs, thus he's not putting any resources into radios.

 

Radios

TVs

Situation A

4

0

Situation B

0

6

Also read: Understand Cash Accounting - Cash Account Meaning, Advantages And Limitations

If resources were not limited, he could produce both goods. But, due to the shortage of resources, he can produce only one product. It comes at the cost of not being to produce and reap benefits of the producing the other item. This missed opportunity or sacrifice is the opportunity cost. Therefore, their opportunity cost of making 4 radios is 6 TVs. 

Here is the opportunity cost formula:  Return on Investment Choice that is profitable - Return on Investment Chosen to Pursue.

Explanation of What Is Opportunity Cost

What is the opportunity cost? The concept of opportunity cost states that "the cost associated with every action consists of the compromises of alternatives for that option." The opportunity cost principle explains the actual "cost" of each action. If no compromises are made, there will be no cost associated within the transaction. 

A Calculation of the Potential Lost Profits

  • When making a choice, it is not always simple to accurately describe the opportunity cost. Instead, the individual responsible for making a choice can only make educated estimates about the consequences of the possibilities that are accessible to them.
  • The opportunity cost meaning may be understood much better by applying it to a few different scenarios.:
  • The interest matching funds may generate if invested in other businesses is the potential opportunity cost of utilising those assets in one's own company rather than investing them elsewhere. This is the potential opportunity cost of employing such assets.
  • The opportunity cost of an entrepreneur's time working on his firm equals the income he would receive by seeking employment elsewhere in the market. This means that the opportunity cost of an entrepreneur's time equals the pay he would earn working for someone else.
  • The potential income that might have been produced from other items represents the profits of the "opportunity cost" of utilising a machine to create one product rather than another.
  • There is no opportunity cost involved with using a machine that cannot be put to any other good use since there is no need for any other alternatives to be let go. In other words, there is no need to compromise any other possibilities.

Importance of Opportunity Cost in Business 

  • It assesses the costs and advantages of choices, such as letting go of short-term gains in favour of a longer-term investment.
  • It is used to determine whether a particular business prospect has merit.
  • It might also help you determine whether or not a certain course of action would be helpful to you in the long run.
  • It may make it easier for you to make a sensible choice from various possibilities.
  • It is useful in calculating the future costs and advantages of present actions.
  • It helps you to contemplate the goals in the future.

Tips for Understanding Opportunity Cost

  1. Ensure that you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals. Before researching the issue, it is vital to have a firm grasp of the topic and to be familiar with the terminology that is often used. 
  2. Familiarise yourself with the guidelines to achieve accurate results and prevent mistakes. This is crucial when determining the value of opportunity cost.
  3. Always use whole numbers rather than percentages or fractions whenever you perform calculations to avoid misunderstandings. This will ensure that the results of your calculations are accurate. 
  4. When determining how to spend your time, it is important to consider the time an activity lasts and the point at which its advantages manifest themselves. 
  5. Continuous practice is necessary for calculating opportunity costs. It is vital to do the calculation regularly to hone one's skills. Using online calculators and working through the available practice problems might help you better grasp the idea.

Also read: Learn Cost and Management Accounting along with its Meaning, Objectives & Types

Conclusion:

The idea of opportunity cost is essential to the worlds of business and accounting. When an investor chooses one investment opportunity over another, certain advantages are associated with that choice; they are referred to as opportunity costs. Therefore, the answer to why this concept is necessary for the business is that it helps make appropriate judgements. The opportunity cost may be determined by subtracting the projected returns from each investment and then calculating the difference between the two amounts. The opportunity cost formula may also be used to verify this, among other methods. Aside from making decisions in a company's operations, the opportunity cost calculation may also assist in estimating the capital structure.

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FAQs

Q: Where does opportunity cost help us?

Ans:

When calculating an opportunity cost, you are forced to contemplate that when you choose one choice over another, you are sacrificing something in the one not chosen.

Q: What is an example of an opportunity cost in the real world?

Ans:

The night before a test, a student spends 4 hours and $70 at the cinema. An investment in time and money that might have been used for anything else implies opportunity cost.

Q: How can the cost of missing out on an opportunity influence a person's decision-making?

Ans:

People and organisations utilise the concept of opportunity cost to help them make better decisions, especially by examining the alternatives.

Q: What exactly is included in the opportunity cost?

Ans:

It takes into account all of the costs, both tangible and intangible, that are connected with a choice.

Q: Is the loss of potential earnings a "real" cost?

Ans:

Opportunity cost doesn't show on accounting records. Opportunity costs are economically real. Because opportunity cost is intangible, many firms, managers, and financiers ignore it.

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Disclaimer :
The information, product and services provided on this website are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without any warranty or representation, express or implied. Khatabook Blogs are meant purely for educational discussion of financial products and services. Khatabook does not make a guarantee that the service will meet your requirements, or that it will be uninterrupted, timely and secure, and that errors, if any, will be corrected. The material and information contained herein is for general information purposes only. Consult a professional before relying on the information to make any legal, financial or business decisions. Use this information strictly at your own risk. Khatabook will not be liable for any false, inaccurate or incomplete information present on the website. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this website is updated, relevant and accurate, Khatabook makes no guarantees about the completeness, reliability, accuracy, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, product, services or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Khatabook will not be liable for the website being temporarily unavailable, due to any technical issues or otherwise, beyond its control and for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of or access to, or inability to use or access to this website whatsoever.