Sweat Equity – Definition

Cite this article as:"Sweat Equity – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 30, 2019, last accessed October 24, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/sweat-equity-definition/.


Sweat Equity Definition

Sweat equity refers to the non-quantitative investment contributed by owners or employees towards a start-up. Usually, this term is used by startups and entrepreneurs. They use this type of capital in financing their business activities, and compensate their workers or staff with stock instead of cash. This helps in balancing the risks as well as rewards. In the real-estate sector, this term signifies the improvements or renovations made by the property owners for increasing the value of property.

A Little More on What is Sweat Equity

Sweat equity is usually considered as the efforts instilled by the owners and employees of the company towards a specific objective or project, and realizing a specific value from it. Start-ups having lower budgets usually offer lower salaries as compared to the industrial standards, and offer a stake to their employees, which they can get profits from once the company is sold.

For instance, an entrepreneur makes an investment of $100,000 in a new venture, and offers a stake of 25% which is worth $500,000, to an angel investor. After doing the calculations, the net worth of the business seems to be $2 million. The sweat equity refers to increased worth of the previous investment from $100,000 to $1.5 million.

Note: Sweat equity, also referred to as non-cash capital, is called equity compensation, and can be available as stock options, performance shares, and restricted stock units.

There are times when a company offers its shares at discounted rates to its BoD and employees so as to preserve talent. Employees receive performance shares after the company achieves specific measures or milestones. This can be in the form of earnings per share, return on equity, or the total return of the stock of an organization in correspondence to an index. Usually, the tenure of performance shares lasts for multiple years.

For instance, private equity organizations hold a specific amount of share in acquired firms so as to boost managerial performance and match company’s interests with the personal equity investors.

Sweat Equity in Real Estate and other Property

The original meaning of this term involves the improvements made by the sweat of a person in order to enhance the worth of the property, or anything else. Even today, industries such as automobile, and real estate follow this approach in the similar manner. Sweat equity can prove to be useful for minimizing the home ownership based costs.

Similarly, Habitat for Humanity homeowners need to instill at least 300 hours for formulating their own as well as the neighbor’s houses prior to taking up the ownership of the home. Followed by making the homes more reasonable in terms of costs, it also offers a sense of achievement to homeowners in building their community. Sometimes, land owners seek maintenance facilities in exchange for trading equity associated with the property.

Real estate investors who deal in real estate for profits try to make use of sweat equity as much as possible by repairing and renovating properties prior to displaying them in the market. This do-it-yourself approach helps them in saving a lot of money, which otherwise, they would be spending on labor and material costs.

Key Points to Remember

  1. Sweat equity refers to the unpaid form of labor that employees and new entrepreneurs instill in a project.
  2. Sweat equity, also referred to equity compensation, can be found in the form of stock options, performance shares, as well as restricted stock units.
  3. Ventures with lesser cash investments usually proffer owners as well as employees less compensations in exchange for a share in the organization.

References for “Sweat Equity

https://www.investopedia.com › Investing › Financial Analysis


https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com › Resources › Knowledge › Valuation




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