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Revenue vs profit: understanding the difference

Ever wondered what sets revenue apart from profit? Join us in uncovering the vital difference!

Revenue vs profit: understanding the difference
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In this article, we're helping you understand the difference between the two terms: revenue vs profit. While both are imperative to a business, understanding the difference between revenue and profit is imperative to you navigating the landscape. 

The primary goal of every business is to make money. In order to do so, firms must understand how they are going to generate revenue and where their resources will come from in the future. Primary operations are those that a company conducts in order to produce, sell, or provide goods or services with the aim of making money. 

The total amount of income generated by the sale of things or services associated with the company's core activities is known as revenue. After all the costs have been subtracted, profit is the amount of cash remaining after accounting for all expenses, obligations, supplementary streams, and operational expenditures. In the quest to discover the difference between revenue and profit we break these two concepts down below.

What is revenue?

The top line, or revenue, of an income statement, is typically referred to as the top line because it sits at the top of the income statement. Before any costs are subtracted, a company's revenue is how much money it makes.

For example, the money a grocery store makes from selling its goods before accounting for any expenses is its revenue. Income is not considered revenue if the company also has income from investments or a subsidiary company, as these don't come from the sale of goods. Additional income streams and various types of expenses are accounted for separately.

What is profit?

On the income statement, profit is typically known as net income, however, the term "bottom line" is more common among people. Profits appear on an organization's income statement in a variety of ways and are used for various purposes.

There are other profit margins​ that come before net profit, such as gross profit and operating profit.

Gross profit

Gross profit equals revenue minus the cost of goods sold, which consists of the direct material and labor expenses related to creating a company's products.

Operating profit

Operating profit equals gross profit minus other business expenses that are associated with running the company, such as rent, utilities, and payroll.

At the end of the day, profit is the amount of revenue a business brings in minus all operating and production costs.

Revenue vs profit

When people refer to a company's profit, they are usually referring to the net income, which is what's left after expenses. It is possible for a company to make money but still have a net loss.

In an example below illustrating the importance of understanding revenue and profit, say a company makes $10 million in the income generated. This sounds great, however, if the company's core business operations and debt add up to $12 million, the company is making a loss. Let's take a look at this example in greater detail below:

Business revenue or Total Net Sales: $10 million

Gross Profit: $4 million (total revenue of $10 million minus COGS of $6 million)

Operating Profit: $2 million (gross profit minus other business expenses such as rent, utilities, and payroll)

Profit or Net income: –$2 million (illustrating that the company is making a loss)

Profit will always be lower than revenue as this amount is determined after deducting all the operating and other costs. 

In conclusion

Companies base their success on two very important metrics: revenue vs profit. While revenue is referred to as the top line, a company's profit is what really matters and is referred to as the bottom line.

It is crucial for investors to take both revenue and profit into account when making investment decisions, and to review the company's income statement in order to get a full view of the company's financial health.

In summary, revenue denotes a company's earnings prior to considering expenses like debts, taxes, and other operational costs. Conversely, factors in all company expenses and operating costs. When it comes to comprehending the distinction between revenue and profit, the evidence solidifies the understanding.

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