Recurring revenue businesses, particularly those built around subscriptions, are becoming more and more popular in the internet era. Even better for those interested in selling, they often fetch a higher multiple than businesses that do not have subscription/recurring revenues. There are three numbers that anyone building such a business should spend a lot of time refining and correlating, and if they do those tasks well, they will quickly have a business they can sell.
1. Gross Margin per Customer
This is pretty straightforward. Given your costs to service a client with either a product or a service, what margin do you make? This doesn’t have to be an impressive number if your volume is high, and conversely, if you’ve got great margins, you don’t necessarily need overwhelming volume. This is a number that every business owner should know.
2. Lifetime Value (LTV)
Another number that every business owner should know is the lifetime value of the average customer. If they are selling products, this number can be sampled over a period of time if it’s not clear that a customer ever stops buying from you forever. If you are selling a service, you would look at the revenue gained before the customer cancelled the service and average that out against all of your customers.
3. Customer Acquisition Cost
Customer Acquisition Cost becomes a really important part of this trilogy of keys, because it tells you whether your business model is viable in the short and long term.
If your customer acquisition cost is paid for either within the gross margin or over lifetime value, you’re in the black. But if, for example, your customer acquisition cost is $100, your lifetime customer value is $100, and you have a margin of 20%, you’re losing money every single time you get a new customer.
Customer acquisition usually isn’t just one single cost, but is a combination of all your marketing efforts across all your channels, as well as the salaries of your team that drive those channels.
As soon as you have proven your model in such a business, you are actually in a prime position to sell.
Unless you want to push forward with new growth or sit back and take it easy for a while (both options that would keep you in the driver’s seat and not selling) you should seriously consider selling a proven recurring revenue business. The newer a business is, the more opportunity there is for growth and new market share, which is very attractive to an incoming buyer.
Whether you have a recurring revenue business you’d like to sell or you’d like to buy one, we can help! Give us a call.