What is Return on Investment (ROI)?

Return on Investment or ROI is a metric used to evaluate the financial performance of an investment. 

It is an essential tool for businesses and investors to make informed decisions about allocating resources and capital. 

A high ROI indicates that an investment is profitable, while a low ROI indicates that an investment is not generating significant returns.

How to Calculate ROI?

To calculate Return on Investment, you simply divide the net profit of an investment by the total cost of the investment and then multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage. 

The net profit is the amount of money you’ve earned from the investment after subtracting all expenses, such as operating costs and taxes. 

The total cost of the investment includes everything you’ve spent to acquire and operate the investment, such as: 

  • Purchase price
  • Fees
  • Maintenance Costs 

The formula for calculating ROI is:

ROI = (Net Profit / Total Investment Cost) x 100

A higher Return on Investment is generally better, as it indicates that your investment is generating higher returns relative to its cost.

How to Interpret ROI?

Return on Investment is expressed as a percentage. A positive ROI means that the returns from the investment are more than the cost of the investment – this means the investment was profitable. 

A negative ROI means that the cost of the investment was more than the returns that the investment brought in. 

For a better comparison, it is better to calculate the annualized Return on Investment.

Annualized Return on Investment

One of the key limitations of the basic ROI is that it does not take into account the amount of time for which the investment was held. 

Comparing two investments using the basic Return on Investment formula is not a fair comparison since the two investments might have been held for differing durations. 

The amount of time that an investment has been held is called the “holding period”. 

The annualized formula solves this problem. To calculate annualized Return on Investment, you take the total ROI over a period of time and divide it by the number of years in that period.

Annualized ROI = [(1+ROI)^1/n −1] x 100%Where n = number of years the investment is held.

Example of Annualized Return on Investment

Let’s take the example of an investment that generated an investment of 50% over a period of 5 years. 

Simply dividing the ROI by the holding period would give us an average ROI of 10% – meaning the investment generated an additional Return on Investment of 10% every year, giving us a total ROI of 50% at the end of the 5 years. 

But this average calculation ignores the effects of compounding.

Understanding Compounding

Let’s understand what compounding means with an example. Let’s say you invest Rs 1000 in a mutual fund, which gives you a Return on Investment of 10% every year. 

This is what your investment looks like at the end of Year 0.

Year Invested Amount Return on Investment % Profit Earned Total Amount
0 1000 10% 100 1100


The profit earned on your investment of Rs 1000 at the end of Year 0 is Rs 100 – 10% of 1000. 

The total amount, therefore, at the end of Year 0 is Rs 1100: Rs 1000 + Rs 100. 

It is this total amount that is reinvested into the next year:

Year Invested Amount Return on Investment % Profit Earned Total Amount
0 1000 10% 100 1100
1 1100 10% 110 1210


This is the compounding effect of an investment. 

Benefits of Annualized ROI

Here are the benefits of using an annualized Return on Investment to calculate the performance of an investment over the basic formula. 

Allows for easy comparison By annualizing ROI, you can easily compare the returns on investments with different time periods. This makes it easier to evaluate investment opportunities and make informed decisions.
Reflects the true annual rate of return Annualized Return on Investment takes into account the compounding effect of returns over time, giving a more accurate picture of the annual rate of return on investment.
Useful for goal-setting Annualized Return on Investment can be used to set performance targets and measure progress toward investment goals over time.
Facilitates communication Annualized Return on Investment is a commonly used metric for communicating investment performance to stakeholders and investors, making it easier to share and understand investment performance data.
Helps with forecasting By using historical annualized Return on Investment data, investors can forecast potential future returns on investment and make more informed decisions about portfolio allocation and risk management.

ROI for Business Founders

ROI is an important metric for startup founders to track and analyze in order to make informed decisions and optimize their business operations.

For startup founders, Return on Investment can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, product development efforts, and other investments. By tracking Return on Investment over time, founders can identify which strategies are working well and which ones need to be revised or abandoned.

How to Improve Return on Investment

There are several ways to improve Return on Investment for a business:

Increase Revenue: One of the most effective ways to improve Return on Investment is to increase revenue. This can be achieved by increasing sales, expanding into new markets, or launching new products or services.

Reduce Costs: Cutting unnecessary expenses, negotiating better supplier contracts, or implementing more efficient processes and systems are all ways to reduce costs and improve Return on Investment.

Improve Marketing: A well-executed marketing strategy can also improve Return on Investment by attracting more customers and increasing sales. This can be achieved through targeted advertising, social media marketing, or content marketing.

Optimize Pricing: Adjusting pricing strategies can also improve Return on Investment. Increasing prices for high-demand products or services can increase revenue, while lowering prices on low-demand items can increase sales volume.

Invest in Technology: Investing in technology can also improve Return on Investment by increasing efficiency and reducing costs. This can include implementing new software systems, automation, or outsourcing certain processes.

Choose the Right Financial Support: The kind of financial support your business gets is also a key determinant of how much return you get from your investment. 

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What is ROI?

Return on Investment or ROI is a metric used to evaluate the financial performance of an investment.

How to calculate ROI?

To calculate ROI, divide the net profit of an investment by the total cost of the investment and then multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

What is a good ROI?

The benchmark for a good ROI differs across investment types. The higher the ROI the better, since it shows that your investment is bringing in more returns over costs.


Raghavi likes to think that because she writes for a living, she'd be good at writing a short bio for herself. But she isn't. She is good at binging K-drama, though.

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