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Gross revenue explained: Definition, calculation, recognition & recording

Learn what gross revenue is, what it is NOT, how to calculate it, and why it is so important to recognize and record your business’ gross revenue accurately.

It's not uncommon for companies to announce their fiscal quarterly or annual gross revenue.

Just recently, Calavo Growers reported total revenue of $274.1 million for the fiscal first quarter of 2022. Telos Corporation announced a 43% sales growth in its fourth quarter of 2021, and Backline Safety reported revenue of $15.7 million for the fiscal first quarter of 2022. 

So how do these businesses arrive at such values? And what significance, if any, do these figures hold? This post seeks to answer that question by breaking down what gross revenue is, what it is NOT, how to calculate it, and why it's essential to recognize and record your company's gross revenue accurately. 

What is gross revenue?

Gross revenue is the money generated by all the business operations—be it sales of products, services, surplus equipment, shares of stocks, etc.—in a given period of time, not accounting for any business expenses.

So if your company sold $5,000 worth of merchandise, and the sold products cost $1250 to make: the gross revenue is $5,000. 

What gross revenue is NOT

To understand the term in all its complexities, it's good to recognize what gross revenue is not. Gross revenue is commonly confused with other business metrics. Below, we break down some of the most frequent metric mix-ups.

Gross revenue vs. gross profit

Gross revenue is the total revenue generated by a business without deducting any expenses and losses, while gross profit is the difference between gross revenue and the cost of goods sold (or services rendered). 

Gross income vs. revenue

Gross income represents the total profits or earnings of a company, while gross revenue represents the total amount received by a business, not accounting for any expenses. 

Unlike gross revenue, gross profit shows the company's ability to generate profit relative to its operational efficiencies. 

Gross sales vs. revenue

Gross sales refer to all customer proceeds for the provision of services, goods, or both. In contrast, gross revenue is the money generated by all business operations, including sales and investments. 

In other words, gross sales are a subset of gross revenue for companies with diversified income sources, such as royalties and interests.

Cash flow vs. gross revenue

Cash flow represents the amount of money flowing into and out of a business for various reasons. Gross revenue, on its end, represents the money flowing into the business—be it from sales, interests, or royalties. 

Cost of goods sold vs. gross revenue

Cost of goods sold includes the total cost of materials, labor, and other expenses directly involved in making the products or delivering the service. Gross revenue equals the value of all the sold products or services in a specified duration. 

Why understanding gross revenue is important

Businesses need to create and analyze their financial statements to understand how they are faring. And gross revenue forms an essential piece of the puzzle, helping companies with:

Tracking sales volume

Since gross sales are a subset of gross revenue, the latter is handy in tracking sales volume to help determine whether your sales reps are hitting revenue goals and monitoring whether your market share is growing.

Monitoring business performance to ensure growth

Tracking gross revenue at consistent intervals provides you with a bird's-eye view of whether your company is growing or losing money. That, in turn, sheds light on your financial health and helps your company make strategic and data-driven decisions to improve outcomes. 

Moreover, you can use gross revenue to compute other financial metrics—such as gross profit—to get an even clearer view of your financial health. 

Analyzing business value

You can also leverage gross revenue to evaluate the viability of new businesses. After all, the success of a startup is pinned on its ability to make money.

You can also estimate your business value as a multiple of the last recorded gross revenue. This figure can truly make or break a company's stock prices. 

Identifying high-impact revenue channels

If you expand your gross revenue calculations to detail how much marketing channels are contributing to revenue, you can use these insights to pinpoint high-impact revenue channels. 

Note: Gross revenue as a business metric is better suited for service-based companies due to their lack of sales returns. In their goods counterparts, a flood in returns may indicate high sales revenue with little to no profit, which is unimpressive.  

How to calculate gross revenue

To calculate gross revenue in a given period, add up the sales revenue generated in a month with the cash inflows from other company operations, such as royalties and investments. 

Product sales revenue is the amount of the average price of goods sold and the number of products sold. 

For example:

Product revenue = No. of units sold x average price

For service companies, service sales revenue refers to the value of service contracts.

Service revenue = No. of customers x average price of service

You can expand the gross revenue formula to include additional details. For instance, you can model the revenue forecast to capture individual product lines or sales channels. 

Overall, calculating the gross revenue follows these basic steps.

1: Define the period for revenue calculation

You begin by specifying a time interval for your gross revenue calculation. It could be monthly, quarterly, or annually.

2. Identify the sources of income

Identify all the revenue sources your company had over the previously specified period. It could include sales of products, surplus equipment, and shares. Other revenue sources encompass earnings from royalties, interests, and fees. 

Make sure to include all the recognizable revenue within the established timeframe, as governed by GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles)

That means if you have a client who has signed up for a maintenance fee of $45,000 over two years and your company recognizes revenue every month, then your monthly gross revenue calculation will only feature $1,875 from said client. 

#3: Add up all income

Lastly, take all the income identified in Step Two and add the resulting numbers together to obtain your gross revenue.  


Company A sells its products online and at a local boutique. If it made $15,025 in-store and $25,800 online in three months and additionally made $2,654 in interest from investments, its gross revenue would equal the following.

Quarterly gross revenue = in-store sales + online sales + interests

                                                      = $15,025 + $25,800 + $2,654 

                                                      = $43,479

When calculating gross revenue, it's best to: 

  • Know your audience (investors or otherwise) to determine the "best" fiscal information to compute.
  • Include all income, be it from sale of products, services, or stocks.  

Recording gross revenue in your income statement

The revenue recognition principle states that revenue is recorded when service delivery is completed or when the risks and benefits of ownership are completely transferred to the buyer. 

Payment is not critical when recording revenue, which helps factor in goods or services sold on credit. As such, you can choose to record sales when you receive payment. Alternatively, you can record items sold on credit as revenue and highlight them as cash receivables on the balance sheet. 

When reporting gross revenue, ensure that all income sources are accounted for on the financial statement, including sales, interests, royalties, and fees. At the same time, be sure to exclude any business expenses. 

Next, consider the presentation of these numbers. Will you denote it as a stand-alone figure? Or will you include more illuminating metrics such as net revenue? 

Once done, record the calculated gross revenue on the top line of your cash flow or income statement. See the highlighted section from Amazon's income statement for the year 2021 as an example.  

Key differences between gross revenue vs net revenue

Differentiating gross revenue from net revenue is crucial for several reasons. One, it can help you escape significant tax repercussions. 


Corporate taxes are based on leftover income—money earned after deducting business expenses, which is also known as net revenue. 

Suppose your company sold products worth $45,000 in February. If you spent $18,500 on business expenses, your gross revenue would be $45,000 and your taxable income $26,500. With the current tax rate at 21% of taxable income, mistaking the two figures can cause you to use the tax percentage from a higher initial figure, resulting in $3,885 more in taxes. 

This difference is also crucial when needing to pay commissions to sales reps or affiliate marketers. 

So what are these differences? 

Gross and net revenue differ in several ways, including: 


Net revenue is the difference between gross revenue and business expenses. 


Gross revenue is the sum of all cash inflows. 

On its end, net revenue is the difference between gross revenue and business expenses. Expenses such as: 

  • Cost of goods sold 
  • Marketing costs 
  • Rent and utilities
  • Office supplies, if necessary 
  • Employee compensation 
  • Legal and administrative costs 
  • Taxes 
  • Cost of software and other technology subscriptions 
  • Costs of discounts, returns, etc. 

Note: Dividend payments are not deductibles when calculating net revenue. 


Unlike gross revenue, net revenue is reported on the last line to represent any remaining business earnings. 

Despite the differences, gross and net revenue are essential in establishing a company's financial health. But recognizing and reporting them can be time-intensive, hence the need to leverage revenue automation tools.

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Gross revenue FAQs

Is annual revenue gross or net?

Annual revenue can be gross or net, or both. Gross means total while net represents leftovers after deducting business expenses. Whatever metric you choose to present your company's annual revenue, specify by adding gross or net before "revenue." The idea is to make it easy for the target audience to understand your calculations.

What does gross revenue retention measure?

Gross revenue retention measures the revenue lost from the company's customer base, not accounting for expansion revenue obtained from cross-sales and upsells. It denotes a business's success in retaining customers. 

What is gross operating revenue?

Gross operating revenue is the money generated from a business's core activities. It could be sales of products or provision of services. 

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