One of the great things about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the level of predictability it provides, especially on the financial side. Over the past 10+ years, as SaaS has hit the mainstream, a number of financial best practices emerged. Here are five financial metrics every SaaS entrepreneur should know:
- SaaS Magic Number – The ratio of last quarter’s new recurring revenue relative to the previous quarter’s sales and marketing expense should be less than one (if < 1, then spend more on sales and marketing, otherwise if > 1, then figure out how to make sales and marketing more efficient)
- 3x Recurring Revenue to Sales Compensation Rule – The fully burdened cost of an inside sales rep should be 1/3rd, or lower, of the new annual revenue required by quota, and field reps should be even lower (e.g. if a rep makes $50,000 all in per year, they should bring in over $150,000 in new annual recurring revenue, with some models going up to 8x recurring revenue to sales compensation)
- 3x MRR Lines of Credit – Banks that understand the SaaS model will often lend money at a rate of 3x the monthly recurring revenue (e.g. $500,000 per month in recurring revenue results in a line of credit of $1.5 million)
- 2.5x Growth Rate Valuation Multiplier – The growth rate of a SaaS company drives the valuation at approximately 2.5x the growth rate on top of a base valuation that’s double revenue (this is highly subject to the whims of the market and timing).
- 3%+ of Monthly Churn is Deadly – The hidden killer for SaaS startups is churn, and churn above 3% on a monthly basis is considered deadly (assuming the startup has some modest scale and accounts for the early exit customers)
Over time, more financial best practice metrics will emerge as the industry matures. Regardless, these five metrics are a great place to start.
What else? What are some other financial best practice metrics for SaaS masters?