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Why Does My MRR Differ from My Accounting Revenue?

Metrics 101

Have you ever used Baremetrics and found yourself puzzled by why your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) isn't lining up with your actual revenue? You're not alone. One of the most common questions we receive from users is about this very discrepancy. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind the discrepancy between MRR in Baremetrics and accounting revenue. We'll explore the nuances of these metrics, understand why MRR is not the same as revenue, and shed light on how Baremetrics plays a vital role in providing accurate insights. So, let's unravel this mystery and gain a better understanding of why your MRR might differ from your accounting revenue.

Understanding MRR and Accounting Revenue

To truly grasp the intricate details, let's first delve into the fundamental concepts of MRR and accounting revenue. MRR, short for Monthly Recurring Revenue, represents the anticipated revenue a business can expect to receive on a monthly basis. It primarily includes the regular subscription fees and recurring charges from customers. On the other hand, accounting revenue encompasses the total revenue generated by a company within a specific period, such as a month or a year. It encompasses all sources of income, including one-time sales, services, and non-recurring revenues.

Accounting revenue, also known as GAAP revenue (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles revenue), adheres to a standardized set of rules. These rules ensure that companies report their earnings consistently and transparently, providing a comprehensive financial overview.

On the contrary, MRR operates differently. It serves as a vital metric for businesses relying on subscription models, but unlike accounting revenue, there's no universally accepted method for calculating and reporting it. This lack of uniformity in determining MRR leads to variations in how this financial metric is presented and interpreted by different companies.

Understanding this distinction is crucial, particularly when evaluating the financial performance of companies with subscription-based revenue. The standardized nature of accounting revenue provides a clear and comparable financial picture, while the more flexible MRR offers diverse insights into a company's recurring income streams.

Key Differences Between MRR and Accounting Revenue

It is crucial to acknowledge the fundamental distinctions between these two metrics to understand why there may be a disparity between your MRR and accounting revenue. Let's take a closer look at these key differences:

  1. Recurring vs. Non-Recurring: MRR solely focuses on revenue that recurs monthly, while accounting revenue takes into account all revenue sources, whether recurring or non-recurring.
  2. Timing of Revenue Recognition: MRR recognizes revenue as it is earned each month, whereas accounting revenue adheres to specific accounting principles such as GAAP or IFRS, which may recognize revenue differently based on certain criteria.
  3. Exclusions and Inclusions: MRR typically excludes certain non-recurring revenue streams, such as one-time sales or setup fees, which are included in accounting revenue.
  4. Subscription Churn: One primary reason for the variation between MRR and accounting revenue is subscription churn. Churn refers to the rate at which customers cancel their subscriptions. When a customer churns, their MRR is no longer counted toward your total MRR, resulting in a decrease in MRR.
    Accounting revenue, on the other hand, includes all revenue received, regardless of whether a customer has churned or not. This means that even if a customer cancels their subscription, the revenue they generated during their active subscription period will still be accounted for in your accounting revenue. This discrepancy can significantly affect MRR and accounting revenue, especially when churn rates are high.
  5. Upgrades and Downgrades: Another factor contributing to the difference between MRR and accounting revenue is the impact of upgrades and downgrades. Customers can upgrade or downgrade their subscription plans in a SaaS business based on their evolving needs. Each plan comes with a different price point, and when customers switch between plans, it directly affects your MRR. When customers upgrade their plan, their MRR increases as they pay a higher subscription fee. Conversely, when customers downgrade their plan, their MRR decreases as they pay a lower subscription fee.
    However, accounting revenue does not directly account for these upgrades and downgrades. It considers the total revenue received without distinguishing between different subscription plans. As a result, the difference between MRR and accounting revenue can be significant, especially when frequent plan changes occur among your customer base.

Understanding these differences is crucial to comprehending why the numbers in Baremetrics might not match your accounting revenue reports. 

Why MRR Is Not Revenue: Unraveling the Mystery

MRR and accounting revenue differ because they serve different purposes and capture different aspects of a company's revenue stream. While MRR focuses on the predictability and growth of subscription revenue, accounting revenue provides a comprehensive view of all revenue sources.

The difference between MRR and accounting revenue can also be attributed to the nature of subscription-based businesses. These businesses rely on recurring revenue from subscriptions, which MRR captures. However, they may also generate revenue from other sources, such as one-time fees or product sales, which are included in accounting revenue.

Additionally, timing differences and the treatment of discounts or promotions can further contribute to the disparities between MRR and accounting revenue figures.

Exploring the Complexities: GAAP and IFRS

To further understand the discrepancies, it's crucial to delve into the complexities introduced by accounting principles such as GAAP and IFRS. These frameworks dictate how revenue should be recognized and reported. Revenue recognition criteria often differ from MRR calculations, leading to variations between the metrics. While MRR might immediately account for a subscription payment, accounting revenue might require specific conditions to be met before recognizing the revenue. These varying guidelines can further contribute to the disparities you observe.

Why Reconciling MRR and Accounting Revenue Can Be Misleading

While reconciling MRR and accounting revenue might be tempting to gain a holistic understanding, it can often be misleading. Attempting to match these two metrics without thoroughly understanding their differences can result in distorted financial analysis. Remember, MRR and accounting revenue serve different purposes and disclose distinct aspects of your business's financial performance. It's crucial to analyze these metrics independently and use them in tandem to gain comprehensive insights rather than forcibly reconciling them.

The Significance of Baremetrics in Tracking MRR

Now that we've established why MRR differs from accounting revenue let's explore the role of Baremetrics in tracking MRR accurately. Baremetrics is a popular revenue analytics tool designed specifically for subscription-based businesses. It seamlessly integrates with various payment processors and provides real-time insights into your MRR, churn rate, customer lifetime value, and more. By leveraging the power of Baremetrics, you can gain a granular view of your subscription revenue, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your business's growth.

Advantages of Using Baremetrics for MRR Analysis

So, why should you choose Baremetrics for MRR analysis when other tools are available? Here are a few advantages that set Baremetrics apart:

  1. Real-time Data: Baremetrics fetches data directly from your payment processors, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information.

  2. Annotation and Segmentation: You can annotate significant events, marketing campaigns, or product launches directly in Baremetrics, making it easier to analyze their impact on your MRR.

  3. Cohort Analysis: Baremetrics allows you to perform cohort analysis, providing insights into the behavior and profitability of different customer segments over time

  4. Intuitive Visualizations: With visually appealing and easy-to-understand graphs, Baremetrics enables you to comprehend complex MRR trends at a glance.

  5. Integration Capabilities: Baremetrics seamlessly integrates with popular tools like Stripe, allowing you to consolidate your revenue data effortlessly.

By utilizing Baremetrics' robust features, you can unlock valuable insights that will empower you to optimize your subscription revenue and make informed business decisions.

The Implications for Your Business

The differences between MRR and accounting revenue have important implications for your subscription-based business.

  1. Performance evaluation: MRR provides a more accurate measure of your subscription revenue and allows you to assess the growth and performance of your subscription business. Accounting revenue, on the other hand, provides a broader view of your overall financial performance, including revenue from non-subscription sources.
  2. Forecasting and planning: MRR is a valuable metric for forecasting future revenue and planning for business growth. It helps you understand the revenue you can expect from your existing subscriber base and informs your pricing and expansion strategies. Accounting revenue, while comprehensive, may not provide the same level of insights for forecasting and planning specific to subscriptions.
  3. Investor and stakeholder communication: MRR is often used to communicate the health and growth potential of a subscription-based business to investors and stakeholders. It highlights the recurring revenue stream and the business's ability to generate predictable revenue. Accounting revenue, although important for overall financial reporting, may not convey the same level of information specific to subscriptions.


In conclusion, the discrepancy between your MRR in Baremetrics and your accounting revenue can be attributed to the inherent differences between these two metrics. MRR focuses on recurring revenue, while accounting revenue encompasses all sources of income. Understanding the variations and knowing why MRR is not revenue is key to grasping the nuances while analyzing your business's financial performance.

By embracing the power of Baremetrics, you can accurately track your MRR, gain real-time insights, and unlock valuable information to propel your subscription-based business forward. Leveraging Baremetrics allows you to analyze your MRR trends, identify revenue growth opportunities, and optimize your pricing strategies. Remember, while MRR and accounting revenue may differ, both metrics play a crucial role in understanding and driving the success of your subscription-based business.

So, if you've ever wondered why your MRR in Baremetrics doesn't align with your accounting revenue, embrace the distinct aspects of each metric, and let Baremetrics empower you to make data-driven decisions for a thriving subscription-based business.


  • What is Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), and how does it differ from accounting revenue?
    MRR is the anticipated revenue a business expects to receive monthly from its subscription-based services. It focuses solely on recurring charges. In contrast, accounting revenue includes all income, such as one-time sales, services, and non-recurring revenues, and adheres to standardized accounting principles like GAAP or IFRS.
  • Why does my MRR in Baremetrics not match my accounting revenue?
    The discrepancy arises because MRR only considers recurring subscription revenue, whereas accounting revenue encompasses all forms of income, including non-recurring sales and services. Additionally, MRR and accounting revenue are recognized differently due to their inherent nature and accounting guidelines like GAAP or IFRS.
  • What role does subscription churn play in MRR and accounting revenue differences?
    Subscription churn affects MRR directly, as it represents the rate at which customers cancel their subscriptions. This reduction in subscribers leads to a decrease in MRR. However, accounting revenue includes the revenue generated during the active subscription period, regardless of churn, leading to a difference between these two metrics.
  • How do upgrades and downgrades of subscriptions affect MRR?
    MRR is impacted when customers change their subscription plans. An upgrade increases MRR due to a higher subscription fee, while a downgrade reduces it. Accounting revenue, however, tallies the total revenue without differentiating between subscription plans, hence the variance from MRR.
  • Is it advisable to reconcile MRR with accounting revenue for a comprehensive analysis?
    Attempting to reconcile these two metrics can be misleading due to their distinct natures and purposes. While MRR offers insight into recurring income streams, accounting revenue provides a broader overview of all income sources. They should be analyzed independently for more accurate financial analysis.
  • Why is Baremetrics a critical tool for tracking MRR?
    Baremetrics is specifically designed for subscription-based businesses, offering real-time insights into MRR, churn rate, customer lifetime value, and more. Its direct integration with payment processors and features like annotation, segmentation, and cohort analysis make it a valuable tool for accurately tracking and analyzing MRR.
  • How can understanding the difference between MRR and accounting revenue benefit my business?
    Recognizing the distinction helps in accurately evaluating your subscription business's performance, forecasting future revenue, and planning growth strategies. It also aids in effectively communicating the financial health and potential to investors and stakeholders, as MRR highlights the predictable recurring revenue stream.
  • Can I use Baremetrics to compare MRR with accounting revenue?
    While Baremetrics is adept at providing detailed MRR analytics, it's not designed to directly compare MRR with accounting revenue. Baremetrics focuses on subscription revenue insights, which should be considered alongside accounting revenue for a holistic understanding of your business's financial performance.

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