How Long Does It Take Before A Startup Will Be Profitable


It is impossible to define an average time to profitability for a startup company as different startups measure profitability in various ways. Conventionally, it can take two to three years, but it does not reflect your performance as poor. This is because the entrepreneur can take an income from a business even while showing a loss on paper. Similarly, the investors can profit regardless of the company's performance if they get a fixed interest rate. However, we wanted to be sure we answer how long does it take before a startup will be profitable with researched information. You can always discuss your startup financial position with a startup consultant.

What Is Profitability?

business trending towards it being profitable

Profitability is the amount of financial gain yielded by a business or activity. In other words, profitability can be defined as a measure of the financial gain with the business expenses incurred by a business.

Profitability can also be defined as the difference between the revenue generated by a business entity and the product cost.

Profitability ratios enable you to evaluate your company's ability to generate profits. While there are many, the business owners need only five to evaluate their profitability. These are as follows:

  1. Operating profit margin percentage
  2. Gross profit margin percentage
  3. Return on investment (ROI)
  4. Return on equity
  5. Net profit margin investment

Difference Between Ramen Profitability and Actual Profitability

Ramen Profitability

Ramen profitability means minimal profits, just enough to survive without indebted and maintaining 100% equity. Ramen profitability for a startup means being barely profitable to allow the business owner to meet basic expenses. Online businesses that require fewer startup costs reach ramen profitability quickly. This method is the fastest way to address how long does it take before a startup will be profitable.

Actual Profitability

In the case of actual profitability, the owners take handsome amounts as salaries and have enough left to declare profit on the books. The meaning of profitability differs from business to business, depending on your goals. At the same time, some entrepreneurs want more money in their pockets without worrying about the company's profitability on the record. Other business owners in search of investors want a formal profit.

Understanding Break-Even Analysis

breakeven analysis to help startup founder see if he is in profit

There's a lot to keep track of when you run your online store. You must track the inventory levels, monitor the product quality, and provide great customer service. You must also keep track of your finances and manage a steady cash flow to be in the business.

The most crucial report for making financial decisions is the break-even analysis. It can assist you in determining how much spending room you have in your budget and how you should go about pricing your products. Ensuring you know how long does it take before a startup will be profitable. The break-even analysis is a crucial part of a business plan.

Factors Determining Business Profitability

Business profitability can be measured in three ways: business owners, investors, and the overall business. Your business profitability depends upon the following factors:

  • Product Demand
  • Cost of Production
  • Economy
  • Competition

Profitability in Relation to the Type of Business

It takes an average of three years for a startup producing creating a new product to become successful. In addition, there are costs associated with adding a partner or expertise to the payroll to develop items, also marketing costs. This is why you should know know how long does it take before a startup will be profitable.

Occasionally, a business will profit from a new product before being on the market for three years. However, these occasions are uncommon; most owners must wait patiently.

On the other hand, because it costs so little to start, an online business may be profitable right away. All that is required to start an online business is a device and an internet connection. However, not every online business idea will turn a profit right away, as marketing and product costs can pile up quickly.

Profitability Analysis Year Wise

dollar signs increasing on a startup business screen

Tip: Although analyzing profit yearly gives us an idea about the way forward. It is imperative to compare monthly profit as well to check the trend of your profit.

Let's look into what the profit tells about your business year after year.

Business profitability in the First Year

According to research conducted by Forbes, most businesses do not make any profit in the first year. After that, it takes between 18 to 24 months to make a profit. In addition, almost 25 percent of businesses fail during the first year.

Even larger companies trying to hire new employees or expand their product lines may face profit cuts during the initial year. If they make a profit, most of it goes as tax deductions.

For most entrepreneurs, the launch year is full of excitement and motivation about the following:

  • You launched your dream project.
  • You have created an online presence through your website.
  • You have come into the limelight through the media and press.

But we tend to ignore the costs involved in initiating and sustaining the product launch. However, the first year goes by with a lot to celebrate.

Profitability in the Second Year

profitability timeline for a startup

Things start becoming a lot clearer in the second year. But, again, it is all about maintaining a positive cash flow. Your savings tend to get exhausted, and you look around for internal and external funding to keep the business running.

Internal Funding includes your savings, credit cards, borrowing from friends and family. At the same time, external Funding includes small business loans and small business government grants.

This is not all! While you have put in all efforts to attract customers, the battle between lead conversions and having long-term customers still needs to be fought. The repercussions of starting a real company begin to appear at this stage.

It is advisable to focus on achieving micro milestones and monitor daily growth to achieve realistic goals. Then you can focus on know how long does it take before a startup will be profitable.

Realistic Third Year

startup founder measuring the performance of his third year in an office

The joy you once felt at the prospect of starting anything has given way to apprehension over whether you made the appropriate business choice. You have crossed the launching phase and entered the transition phase.

Year three marks the validation stage. You have had enough time to validate your business idea. Now it is time to respond to the validation by following steps such as:

  • If you have reached break-even in terms of profit, that is a realistic picture of the third year. However, you should not expect your profitability to skyrocket this year.
  • You can analyze if you stand firm at this point or is it time to close down.
  • Use all facts to decide whether you will have a successful business in the coming years.
  • You are at the growth stage now, and this is the decisive point of continuing what you have started.
  • Years Four to Six

Look at the history of all major companies. Try to understand know how long does it take before a startup will be profitable. You'll see that they often operated in relative obscurity for many years until one day they realized that what it had was valuable. Businesses that get overnight success are rare, and one should not follow their business success guidelines.

In reality, it does take almost four years to refine every aspect of your business, such as:

  • Product development
  • Customer acquisition
  • Brand awareness
  • Team building
  • Management team
  • Unit economics

Building a successful startup is not an easy task. Although you'll need knowledge and decision-making skills to establish a great firm, it'll ultimately come down to having the fortitude to see it through. Just keep in mind that it will take a long time.

Between years four and six, the final push before success usually occurs. Only then will you begin to feel confident in your abilities. You'll have a consistent stream of new consumers a well-defined brand, and you'll be updating your products and services regularly.

Years Seven to Ten

Your business plan has been successful. But, if you're like most businesses, you'll see success between the seventh and tenth years.

Profitability Varies With Business Type

startup founders dividing the profits of the last business year

While some business owners enter the industry with full knowledge about the kind of business they wish to start, many novice entrepreneurs find it hard to figure out their startup statistics, ideal customer, the type of business that suits them. However, your financial statements, such as a balance sheet and income statement, indicate where you are heading. It is overwhelming to know exactly how long it will take to become profitable.

Let's look into the most lucrative small enterprises and know how long does it take before a startup will be profitable. Each of these businesses is rapidly expanding and can offer you a comfortable living and rewarding experiences. Most of them don't demand high initial costs. The smartest entrepreneurs may establish a profitable business with the appropriate combination of hard work, perseverance, and resourcefulness or a funding source.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is ideal for driving sales and generating online revenue. Affiliate marketing is the tactic of earning a commission by promoting the products of another individual or company. The affiliate finds a product they like, promotes it, and earns a portion of the profit from every sale they make. In addition, affiliate links from one website to another are used to track sales.

Although it seems like quick money, you see profits by the sixth month. As there are three parties involved in affiliate marketing including:

  • Seller or creator of the physical product
  • Advertiser or affiliate
  • Consumer

Earning a consistent income via affiliate marketing can be tough. To stand out from other marketers advertising the same products can be even more difficult. However, there are steps you can do to become successful and generate a more reliable cash stream once you've established a blog, website, newsletter, or social media account. It is advisable to take it as a side business option before earning.

Link building is important for affiliate marketing. Advertisers use affiliate links to track the traffic sent to the advertiser's website. Therefore, avoid using bad links that are spammy and offer value to your website.

Beauty Products

beauty product for startup ideas

This field has a lot of scopes; you could be a mobile salon owner, direct cosmetic and skincare seller, a beauty blogger, or a make-up artist. The initial costs can range from $10,000-$20,000, including physical product development, business startup cost, and marketing. If you offer a range of products, you can add $5,000 for each product.

Many entrepreneurs and brands claim to have spent years perfecting their latest skincare and cosmetics product line. However, the two-year timeline from concept to shelf is more a marketing myth than a reality. It takes years to develop the product, and even when supported by the best marketing plan can take time to resonate and become profitable.


freelancer working away in a sunny location

A self-employed person who is not working for an employer is called a freelancer. However, most companies reach out to individual freelancers to utilize their skills for projects. Freelancing does not need a lot of initial costs; the profitability varies according to your primary goals.

It means meeting basic living expenses for some freelancers, which is achievable in the first year. But if your target is to earn a six-figure revenue, it can take five to six years.

E-commerce Store

ecommerce store startup business idea plan with details on a laptop

The primary goal of ecommerce businesses is to reach maximum potential customers with no physical boundaries. Ecommerce companies cost less than establishing a physical store as all it needs is a subscription and buying a theme for the online store, which costs only 100 dollars. Your product page can have more sales with the correct optimization tools and beautiful product photography.

According to a study, ecommerce businesses tend to become profitable quicker than any other startup. While other companies wait for years to earn a profit, ecommerce businesses generate revenue faster due to online ads. Realistically, you should not expect profit in the first year; give yourself a period between 18 to 24 months to establish a strong footing and start enjoying profits. With this model, there is less concern about know how long does it take before a startup will be profitable.

Real Estate Brokering

Although Proptech (property technology) startups are on the rise when launching a brokerage of your own, you will face the following initial costs:

  • Permit fees and license costs
  • personal branding costs, including logo and business cards
  • optimization costs for your online presence
  • Rent of your physical work location
  • Infrastructural costs
  • Employees salaries
  • Advertising and marketing costs

Having a business plan and building contacts is a good way to start. However, the business profitability can be seen only after the first year. After that, it takes around 18 months to have the reputation and clientele to expect minimal profits.

Personal Trainer

personal trainer working with client

Everyone wants to be fit and look smart these days. The fitness training business is hiking these days due to increased awareness about health and well-being. But being a trainer is different from being a well-known fitness trainer and getting clientele. The initial costs include:

  • paying for a space
  • investing in equipment

These costs can be high for a startup. So once you have identified your target market and created a brand, you should consider online coaching options. An entry-level personal trainer takes $16.70 as an average income summing up to $34,000 yearly. However, it takes effort and time to reach profitability. On average, it can take 3 to 4 years until your gym is profitable.

Online Consulting

small business consultant on a stage in front of a lot of people

This business type is easy to start with minimal initial costs involved. It would be best if you defined the following:

  • Mission Statement
  • Target audience
  • consider having a certification
  • create a website and get a domain
  • market your coaching services
  • offer a coaching package

As simple as it seems, it takes almost two years to pay off the expenses comfortably and another 2 years to start earning a decent profit. Additionally, you need to have significant levels of expert experience in your field if you are to be considered by potential clients. Work with a startup consultant if they themselves have achieved the business success you desire.


Although having your own business seems enticing — no boss, the opportunity to follow a passion, the ability to transform your ideas into reality — it is not for everyone. There will be obstacles at every turn on the road to achievement. So you should take a lot of things into consideration before making the leap of faith.

You might find that the work is too difficult, that you don't want to continue investing your own money in your business, or that your idea isn't as appealing to your target audience as you had hoped. It's quite acceptable to give up. However, if you have a strong business plan, recruit a great team, and maintain working hard, you only need to motivate yourself each year that you're only a few years down from success.

When creating ledger sheets, keep your objectives in mind. Only if there is a true business motive in doing so does your company need to show a formal profit: when the business is lucrative on paper, it may be easier to obtain investors, which means there's a solid reason to take the cheapest feasible compensation.

If your objective is to live comfortably off the earnings of your business while still enjoying the perks of owning your business, your business may never need to make a profit. It can also be beneficial in taxation, reducing the amount of money your firm pays in taxes over time. Understanding how long does it take before a startup is profitable can be challenging considering the advanced technological developments being created in our world today. Speaking with a startup consultant can help ensure you don't set inaccurate timelines to profitable milestones.

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