# How to Find Percentage Increase

Jun 19, 2024
AuthorAndrew Gartner

Understanding how to calculate the percentage increase is pivotal in managing your business finances. It helps assess performance, measure growth, and make informed decisions. This strategy can be applied to various aspects such as revenue growth, profit margin, or sales increases – vital indicators of business health. In this guidance, we’ll delve into the step-by-step process to find the percentage increase, explain key terminologies, and provide illustrative examples. We’ll also touch base on how it affects your invoicing and overall financial management. Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll keep a tight reign on your financial operations.

## Definition and Importance

Understanding how to calculate the percentage increase is a critical skill for business owners, managers, freelancers, and accountants. Percentage increase, mathematically, is the ratio of the absolute or relative increase in a quantity to its initial value, expressed as a percentage. Simply put, it tells us how much something has grown, in percentage terms, relative to its starting point.

For businesses, being able to compute the percentage increase is crucial. It can mean the difference between pricing a product right or wrong, effectively managing your cash flow, or accurately calculating profitability. This information can paint an unambiguous picture of a company’s growth rate and profitability stance, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions and plans.

For freelancers, it’s equally essential. It helps in evaluating the magnitude of their income growth, enabling them to strategize on scaling up their revenue.

For accountants, an understanding of how to find the percentage increase is indispensable since it plays a fundamental role in preparing and interpreting financial statements, thus contributing significantly to a company’s financial health.

## Key Steps or Methods

First and foremost, before you can calculate a percentage increase, you’ll need two specific numbers: the initial value or number (which we’ll call “A”) and the final value or number (which we’ll call “B”). These numbers could refer to anything from sales revenue, customer quotas, or the cost of goods sold.

Begin by subtracting A from B. The resulting number represents your raw increase. This raw increase essentially showcases the direct amount your number has grown from A to B. However, by itself, it’s often a figure that lacks context and can be difficult to understand in broader terms.

To convert this raw increase into a percentage, you’ll need to complete a few more steps. First, take the raw increase and divide it by A (your initial value). By doing this, you’re determining what fraction your raw increase is of your starting number. Essentially, this allows you to see your growth in relation to where you began, rather than just the explicit growth itself.

However, the figure you’ll get after this division isn’t very user-friendly — not many people are used to thinking in terms of fractions or decimals. To make it more understandable, multiply your result by 100. This will transform it into a percentage, which is generally easier to understand, compare, and apply in real-life situations.

Let’s break it down into a formula for easier understanding:

Percentage Increase = ((B-A)/A)*100

This formula should help you quickly and accurately identify percentage increase for any set of numbers you’re provided with.

A crucial detail to remember is the importance of being consistent with units. If you’re comparing annual sales revenue, for instance, make sure both A and B represent annual totals. Inconsistency in units can lead to major discrepancies in your results.

A number expressed in percentage is a friendly indicator, ideal for analytical or comparative purposes. It offers insight into the relative size of the increase, which helps in gauging performance. For example, if you apply this to customer growth, it will not only tell you by what quantity your customer base increased but also by what proportion.

Lastly, let me mention that when applying this method to financials, always double-check your calculations. A minor error could significantly affect your results and, consequently, your analysis or decision-making. Furthermore, always put your data into context. A hefty percentage increase might sound great, but if the initial number was tiny to begin with, it might not be as impressive as it seems. The value of percentage lies in its relative, rather than absolute nature.

## Common Challenges and Solutions

One frequent stumbling block many face when seeking to find the percentage increase is a basic misunderstanding of the formula itself. The formula is: (New Value – Original Value) / Original Value x 100%. It seems straightforward, but it’s easy to get confused and inadvertently switch the old and new values or forget to multiply the final result by 100 to convert the decimal into a percentage.

To make sure you’re using the correct values, always double-check your inputs before proceeding. This simple step reduces the margin of error. When you’ve calculated the difference between the old and new value, it’s paramount to remember to divide the difference by the old value, not the new one.

A second common challenge arises from not fully understanding what the resulting percentage means. A 10% increase doesn’t mean the new value is 10% of the original. Rather, it has grown by that proportion. Thus, a 10% increase on a \$100 invoice would make the new invoice value \$110, not \$10.

Avoid the temptation of hurriedly rushing through the calculations. Patience and precision will yield accurate results.

Another trouble spot is when the difference between the two values is extremely small or large. This can throw off people if they don’t have a strong grasp of percentages. For instance, a rise from \$1 to \$2 is a 100% increase, not a 50% increase. On the other hand, a drop from \$2 to \$1 is a 50% decrease.

To navigate these scenarios, keep in mind that an increase means the percentage will always be over 0% while a decrease always signifies a percentage less than 0%.

Lastly, don’t ignore the units. An increase from 5kg to 10kg is the same percentage increase as from \$5 to \$10 but can represent entirely different proportions in different contexts. Always make sure you are comparing like with like, even within your own calculations.

## Red Flags

While trying to calculate the percentage increase, you should remain vigilant for certain red flags. These are common errors that might lead to incorrect conclusions and potentially harm your financial planning.

Firstly, watch for inconsistencies in the basis of comparison. Comparing apples to oranges will result in inaccurate findings. You must compare similar time frames, product lines, or financial periods. For instance, the increase in expenses should be calculated annually, quarterly, or monthly, but the time frame should remain consistent. If not, percentage increases can be skewed and misleading.

Next, incorrect data insertion is a significant pitfall. Different financial databases may record and display data differently. Ensure that the numbers you’re using are accurate before running any calculations. If necessary, double-check your figures against original receipts, invoices, and company records. In cases of doubt, fall back on your accounting system or financial advisor for accuracy.

On a related note, make sure that you are not overestimating or underestimating values while making calculations. When examining percentages, small overestimations or underestimations can result in substantial errors and misjudgments. Inspect your source data carefully before any calculations to ensure accuracy.

Lastly, be careful to not misunderstand or misinterpret the result. A percentage increase doesn’t necessarily indicate positive progress or growth. For example, if your business expenses show a large percentage increase, this could indicate a problem rather than a triumph. By the same token, a percentage increase in sales or revenues is usually a desirable outcome. However, if it’s due to a one-time event such as a large, unusual order, it might be misleading to view it as sustainable growth.

In conclusion, take the time and diligence to ensure accurate calculations and understand the implications of percentage increases. This will contribute to a more data-driven business strategy and improve overall financial standing.

## Case Studies or Examples

I have been advising businesses for over a decade, and have seen how crucial understanding percentage increases can be to making strategic decisions. Allow me to share one instance here.

Take, for example, a consulting company that I worked closely with. This company’s key profitability metric was revenue per employee. Over one fiscal year, they observed that their metric had grown from an initial \$80,000 to an end-of-year figure of \$100,000. To calculate the percentage increase, they subtracted the starting number from the final one, obtaining a difference of \$20,000. That difference was then divided by their initial revenue per employee (\$80,000) and multiplied by 100, presenting them with a 25% growth. This calculation offered this business an objective measure of their performance; it made them realize that they were on the right track. Consequently, using percentage increase led to more strategic hiring and profit allocation decisions.

On the flip side, let’s look at a different scenario. An e-commerce platform translated a 10% increase in their website traffic into an absolute growth instead of a percentage. This confused them about their exact growth and led to a series of misguided marketing decisions. It resulted in a loss of both money and customer trust.

Their mistake was in not understanding the value of percentage increase. A simple calculation would have been to find the difference between their old and new traffic, divide that by their initial traffic, and multiply by 100. This would have offered a fair assessment of their growth, enabling them to make better marketing decisions.

In essence, understanding the percentage increase is not just about crunching numbers. It plays a critical role in fostering more informed decision-making, allowing you to plan your strategies more effectively.