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All business owners understand and appreciate the importance of revenue to the success of their businesses. At the outset, revenue is critical to the ability of a business to pay its expenses and satisfy any payroll obligations. Investors will examine the history of revenue of a business as a benchmark to evaluate the future profitability and potential growth of the company. Revenue is also an important criteria that lenders use when assessing whether to extend credit to a business — the lifeblood of every business.
With revenue being so important to the success of a business, it is often a surprise how little time most business owners spend on exploring how their businesses can meet — if not exceed — their revenue-generating potential.
The reality is most business owners are so focused on the day-to-day realities of running their businesses that they simply do not have the time to consider if their businesses are generating as much income as they should or if there are other opportunities to increase revenue-generating potential.
What is a recurring revenue stream?
A recurring revenue stream is simply a way of conducting business that results in customers paying the business on a regular basis in exchange for some value. This value can either be the right to receive goods or services from a business or the right to access or use the property of the business for a given time.
This is very different from non-recurring revenue-generation business models, such as the sale of a product or the provision of a service, where a business has no expectation that a current customer will be a customer in the future. Recurring revenue streams enable business owners to better predict how much revenue their businesses will generate in the future. Savvy business owners use these recurring revenue streams to attract investors, obtain credit and grow their companies.
It is no wonder that the foundation of many successful modern businesses today often relies on recurring revenue streams.
What are some examples of recurring revenue streams?
You may be intimidated by the idea of a recurring revenue stream. You have no reason to be: Recurring-revenue business models are all around us. Here are three common examples of recurring revenue streams that you may be familiar with and ought to consider implementing in your business.
- Renting or leasing. If you have ever leased a car or rented a home, you are familiar with this business model. Leasing is a form of generating revenue where a business collects money from a customer in exchange for giving a customer the right to use a physical asset for a specified time.
- Licensing. Do you pay for any online services? Do you use any form of social media? Your relationship with those online services is often governed by a license agreement, which sets out terms for how intellectual property of one party can be used by the other. If one party is required to pay for the rights to use the intellectual property of the other party, those payments are often calculated based on how often that customer uses that intellectual property or on the amount of money the customer generates using the intellectual property of the business.
- Subscription. This is the model you are most likely familiar with. Whether it be your account to the latest video-streaming platform, your fresh coffee subscription or even your subscription to a pizza service, subscription-based business models are everywhere. The success of most subscription-based business models relies on providing ongoing value to customers in exchange for recurring payments for as long as possible.
What to ask before integrating a recurring revenue stream
While introducing a new revenue stream for your business is certainly attractive, recognize that not every recurring-revenue business model is the same. The reality is that each type of recurring revenue stream needs to be tailored to the capabilities of each business and the needs of each customer. Here are some questions to ask when considering the opportunities to integrate a recurring revenue stream into your business: What value from your business are your customers willing to pay for on a regular basis? What price will customers pay for that value on a regular basis? What changes in your business operations need to happen to make these revenue streams a reality?
Don’t go it alone
While I hope this article illustrates some of the benefits of integrating recurring revenue streams into your business, I must emphasize that this is simply an introduction to the concept. Don’t underestimate the amount of time, money and energy that may be required to create a new revenue stream for your business. I would encourage you to find lawyers, accountants and other advisors to guide both your assessment of the suitability of a recurring-revenue business model for your business and the implementation of your strategic decisions. After all, a little time and energy invested in preparation often pays dividends in the long term.