Most SaaS Metrics Actually Solely Work if You Have 75%+ Gross Margins and 100%+ NRR

So over the previous decade-and-a-half we’ve give you quite a lot of yardsticks, metrics and guidelines for SaaS corporations.


  • CAC of < 12-14 months is Good-to-Nice
  • Paying gross sales reps 25%-30% of what they shut is Good
  • A burn a number of of 1 or much less is Good

These metrics do type of work, if in case you have some capital to spend (e.g., can spend money on advertising that takes a short time to repay).

However — they break when you aren’t actually a conventional, 80%+ Gross Margin, 100%+ NRR SaaS firm.


  • Hybrid SaaS with funds and fintech normally has far, far decrease gross margins than pure software program.  See, e.g. Shopify, whose blended gross margins with funds even at its scale are nonetheless lower than 50%.  Typically within the 40%-50% vary, as an alternative of 75%-80%.  But, I see most “Hybrid SaaS” startups ignore this and spend as if they’d 80% margins.
  • Non-Recurring Income Doesn’t Depend, At Least Not as A lot.  In case your income from any stream can go down in a given month or quarter, it’s not recurring.
  • Cross-By Income Merely Doesn’t Depend.  Is it OK to acknowledge go by way of income as “income”?  It relies upon.  B2C of us take totally different positions right here. However what’s clear is it’s a horrible, horrible thought in B2B and SaaS to incorporate 0%-10% gross margin pass-through income while you mannequin your SaaS metrics.
  • Loss-making {Hardware} Income Doesn’t Depend.  Toast loses cash on these cool gadgets you employ in eating places.  That’s nice, and it permits their software program.  However you possibly can’t rely that as worthwhile income.  It isn’t.
  • SMB SaaS usually has a lot decrease than 100% NRR, particularly to start out.  In reality, Very Small Companies usually see 3% a month churn or greater.  You merely can’t spend 12 months of income to amass a buyer in the event that they on common … final lower than or not far more than a yr.  Ultimately most SaaS SMB leaders get to 100% NRR a technique, or one other (usually by both going multiproduct and/or a bit extra upmarket).  However till you get there — you possibly can’t spend such as you do.

Toast even at a $1B+ run fee continues to be shedding cash on {hardware} and providers:

And even at present, I’m seeing method method too many venture-backed startups with hybrid, lower than 100% recurring, and/or SMB fashions spending cash like … they’ll use enterprise SaaS metrics.

They will’t.

You possibly can’t spend such as you do.  Or it finally ends up all gone, sooner than anybody deliberate.  Although you used and even met these “Normal SaaS” metrics.….


David Sacks and I hit on this a bit on this deep dive from SaaStr Annual right here:

A associated put up right here:

Even A Barely Too Excessive Burn Fee Can Get Out of Management

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