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Business revenue might seem straightforward, but it's the hidden fuel powering your company's success. Understanding it goes beyond just how much cash flows in; it's about understanding exactly what’s driving your growth and how to maintain a financially healthy business.

In this guide, we'll explain everything you need to know about business revenue, including how to calculate it, how to use it to generate financial reports, and considerations when applying for credit cards.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners, here's a quick rundown of the numbers that define your business.

What is annual business revenue?

Annual business revenue is the total income generated by a business over 12 months or one fiscal year. It's the raw sum of a company's sales of goods and service offerings. Think of it as the bottom line before factoring in expenses.

Annual business revenue is a key indicator of your company's financial health, reflecting its ability to generate cash and fuel its operations. Gaining insight into your business’s yearly revenue is essential for understanding its performance, growth, and financial standing.

Gross vs. net annual revenue

Gross annual revenue is the total amount of money made from sales of products or services before deducting expenses. Net annual revenue is the income left over after deducting expenses. Examples of expenses you’d deduct from your gross annual revenue to calculate net annual revenue include cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and taxes from the gross revenue. Net annual revenue paints a more realistic picture of your business's financial health and profitability than gross annual revenue.

Here's a simple example of the difference between gross annual revenue and net annual revenue:

  • Gross Revenue: $100,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold: $30,000
  • Operating Expenses: $20,000
  • Taxes: $15,000
  • Net Revenue: $35,000

Just knowing your gross revenue can be misleading. Focusing on net revenue gives you a clearer picture of the money flowing into your business after accounting for the costs of keeping it running.

Annual recurring revenue

Annual recurring revenue (ARR) measures your business’s predictable, ongoing revenue from existing customer subscriptions. ARR provides invaluable insight into your business's stability and future growth potential. This metric is especially useful if your company offers subscription-based products or services.

Calculating ARR is straightforward​:

  • ARR = Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) x 12

Let's say your business has a monthly recurring revenue of $1,000. Your base annual recurring revenue would be:

  • ARR = $1,000/month x 12 months = $12,000

More advanced calculations may be necessary to account for additional monthly recurring revenue from subscription add-ons and upgrades and revenue lost due to subscription cancellations and downgrades.

Investors and creditors can gauge your bus​iness's ability to generate consistent income by focusing on ARR. As such, ARR is a crucial metric for attracting funding and securing credit.

Types of business revenue

Not all revenue streams are created equally. Knowing the types of revenue your business generates is important for maintaining accurate financial records and making strategic decisions.

Let's take a look at the two main types of revenue:

Operating revenue

Operating revenue refers to revenue generated through core business activities. For instance, a bakery's revenue would entail proceeds from selling cakes and pastries. Operating revenue is the lifeblood of your business, directly reflecting its performance and efficiency.

Non-operating revenue

Non-operating revenue is any income earned from activities outside of core business operations. For example, if the bakery rents its spare kitchen space to a catering company, the rental income would be considered non-operating revenue. While not directly tied to core activities, non-operating revenue can contribute positively to your bottom line.

Knowing the difference between these two types of revenue is vital for financial analysis and realizing the true drivers of your business's performance.

How to find annual business revenue

Here’s how to find your company’s annual revenue in four steps:

  1. Gather your financial statements: Start with your income statement and balance sheet. These documents contain vital information about revenue, expenses, and assets.
  2. Identify the relevant line items: Look for items like "gross sales," "net sales," and "total revenue" on your income statement.
  3. Consider the period: Determine whether you want to look for monthly, quarterly, or annual gross income. Make sure you're focusing on the correct timeframe.
  4. Account for adjustments: Certain transactions might require adjustments to accurately reflect your revenue. Consult with a financial expert or accountant if needed.

Annual revenue calculation example

Let's take a small business selling handmade jewelry for example. Its income statement shows the following:

  • Total sales: $50,000
  • Returns and allowances: $2,000

To find the company's net annual revenue, simply subtract the returns:

  • Net revenue: $50,000 - $2,000 = $48,000

Calculating your company's net revenue should come easy with income statements handy showing the total sales and returns and allowances identified. By following these steps and carefully analyzing your financial statements, you can uncover valuable insights into your financial health and track your progress toward your revenue goals.

What is a good annual revenue for a business?

Now that you know how to calculate the annual revenue of your business—and may have the figure right in front of you—you're probably wondering if it's good. That said, figuring out whether your annual revenue is in the right range for your business depends on a few factors.

The primary factors that determine good annual revenue include the following:

  • Business industry: Different industries have vastly different average revenue benchmarks. A tech startup might aim for high growth and rapid revenue increases, while a local coffee shop might be content with steady, moderate revenue.
  • Business stage: Early-stage businesses naturally have lower revenue than established companies. Regardless of the stage, a company should focus on maintaining consistent growth and exceeding internal milestones rather than basing comparisons on​ industry giants.
  • Business model: High-volume, low-margin businesses need significantly more revenue than niche, high-margin businesses to achieve profitability. To establish realistic revenue goals, a company must understand its cost structure and target margins.

Here's a rough gauge of good annual revenue based on your business size:

  • Small businesses (1–50 employees): $50,000–$5 million in annual revenue
  • Medium businesses (51–250 employees): $5 million–$50 million in annual revenue
  • Large businesses (251 or more employees): $50 million or more in annual revenue

It's important to point out that these are just broad indicators. Defining small, medium, and large businesses is often based on various factors, including industry, number of employees, and revenue. You’ll need to​ set attainable targets for growth based on your specific circumstances.

How to report annual business revenue on a credit card application

Securing business credit can be crucial for your company's growth. When applying for a business credit card, your annual revenue can sometimes determine your eligibility and credit limit.

Consider the following when reporting your revenue on a business credit card application:

  • Report accurately: Provide the most accurate and up-to-date information about your annual revenue. Use your tax returns or audited financial statements for verification.​
  • Supporting documents: Gather tax returns, income statements, balance sheets, and bank statements to substantiate your reported revenue.
  • Other factors: Beyond revenue, credit card issuers evaluate factors such as business age, credit history, and debt-to-income ratio. Make sure your overall financial profile is strong.​​

Typically, credit card issues and lenders ask for the last year's gross annual revenue, which is the amount before deducting taxes and expenses.

Advice for small businesses

As a newly established business, you may not have generated a year of revenue. In that case, it can be tricky to report your annual business revenue on a credit card application. Based on your credit issuer’s guidance, here are a couple of ways you can report annual revenue without a year of income:

  • Report $0: If you haven’t made any income yet, you may still be eligible for the credit card. Some providers don’t mind if you report $0 under annual revenue. Instead, they may ask for a report of your personal income.
  • Estimate revenue based on sales: Some credit card providers let you use revenue projections instead of actual revenue. You can figure out your projected annual revenue based on your business plans, past contracts, and expected sales. Just check that your provider allows revenue projections first. It also helps if you have documentation with your calculations.

Can you get a business credit card without any revenue?

You don’t need to be generating income to qualify for a business credit card. Your personal credit score and financial background are usually what’s considered for approval. So, you can still apply even if your business isn’t bringing in revenue.

You may have to put up a personal guarantee, however, holding you personally liable in case your business can’t pay off its credit card balance.

Some cards, like corporate cards, do come with revenue requirements. To qualify for them, you’ll have to wait until your business is more established. On the plus side, they usually don’t perform credit checks or require a personal guarantee.

Qualify for Ramp's corporate card based on sales revenue

Ramp is an all-in-one corporate card and expense management platform. To qualify, all you need is a registered business in the United States with $75,000 in a US business bank account. Or, see if you're eligible for our sales-based underwriting.

Through connections to Shopify, Stripe, and other payment platforms, we give businesses the opportunity to access higher credit limits than they might otherwise get based on sales.

Our platform lets you manage all of your expenses in one place, from paying bills to managing reimbursements. With automated receipt capture and expense reports, along with AI-powered spending insights, your business can save an average of 5% using Ramp.

Explore more about how Ramp can save your business time and money.

Try Ramp for free.
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Finance Writer and Editor, Ramp
Ali Mercieca is a Finance Writer and Content Editor at Ramp. Prior to Ramp, she worked with Robinhood on the editorial strategy for their financial literacy articles and with Nearside, an online banking platform, overseeing their banking and finance blog. Ali holds a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from York University and can be found writing about editorial content strategy and SEO on her Substack.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


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