Part of understanding the way your business works is understanding the costs associated with the way it generates revenue. For a low overhead business–most online or service-based businesses are–costs can be an afterthought.

How much does it cost to hop on Skype with a client? How much does it cost to produce an ebook or a teleclass? Beyond initial investments in design or tools, there is little monetary cost and almost none in terms of distribution or production.

But it’s a mistake to discount the softer costs of this work.

What are soft costs?

They’re the costs that can’t be measured in money. Soft costs could be felt in time, energy, or reputation.

Soft costs are the ones that eat away at your lifestyle, your relationships, and your personal satisfaction.

While the work you produce might be profitable financially, is it profitable energetically? Relationally? Temporally?

In 10ThousandFeet, we work to make sure each business is investing in creating products and services that are profitable across the board. We measure all the costs. We consider whether revenue streams are really worth the soft costs they demand.

Can you reduce the soft costs of your current revenue streams?

Soft costs often add up when a revenue stream demands you to exercise one of your (or your business’s) weaknesses instead of leveraging one of your strengths. That happens when you try to create a service that doesn’t fit the way you like to work or when you create a product that’s popular but not suited to your creation style.

Where are you losing profit to soft costs based on your business’s weaknesses or working style?

Soft costs also accrue when you make a decision that’s either out of integrity or out of alignment with your brand or big idea. It doesn’t even have to be a “bad” decision, it could just be unexpected or a little confusing for your customer base.

Where have you incurred soft costs due to decisions or directions you’ve taken in your business?

Sure, you want to optimize the bottom line just don’t forget the soft costs in your calculations.