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Breaking Down the Difference Between ARR and MRR

ARR and MRR are key metrics in subscription-based businesses. ARR measures annual recurring revenue, useful for stable companies. MRR tracks monthly recurring revenue, vital for startups and growth phases, aiding in monitoring churn and trends. Choose based on business stage and growth strategy.

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Published on 23 Aug 2023


In the world of business, metrics play a vital role in understanding the financial health and growth of a company. Two such metrics that often come up in discussions are ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) and MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue). While they may sound similar, there are significant differences between the two. This article aims to break down differences between ARR vs MRR and help you understand when and how to use each metric effectively.

Understanding ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue)

ARR, or Annual Recurring Revenue, is a metric that measures the annual revenue generated through recurring subscriptions or contracts. It provides a clear picture of the company’s financial performance over a year, excluding any one-time or non-recurring transactions. ARR is particularly useful for businesses that rely on subscription-based models or have long-term contracts with their customers.

How to Calculate ARR

To calculate ARR, add up the total revenue generated from all recurring subscriptions or contracts in a year. Exclude any revenue from one-time purchases or non-recurring transactions.

For example, if a subscription-based company has 1,000 customers paying $100 per month, the ARR would be $1,200,000 ($100 x 12 months x 1,000 customers).

Who is ARR for?

ARR is especially relevant for SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, as it helps them gauge their annual revenue and predict future growth. It is also valuable for businesses that have long-term contracts, such as telecommunication companies or software providers.

Understanding MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue)

MRR, or Monthly Recurring Revenue, measures the total revenue generated through recurring subscriptions or contracts on a monthly basis. Unlike ARR, which provides an annual snapshot, MRR allows businesses to track revenue growth and monitor customer churn on a monthly basis. This makes it an essential metric for companies that rely on subscription-based models and want to understand their month-to-month performance.

How to Calculate MRR

Calculating MRR involves adding up the total revenue generated from all recurring subscriptions or contracts in a month. Similar to ARR, exclude any one-time or non-recurring transactions.

For example, if a company has 500 customers paying $50 per month, the MRR would be $25,000 ($50 x 500 customers).

Who is MRR for?

MRR is particularly relevant for startups and businesses with monthly subscription-based models, as it allows them to track their monthly revenue growth and identify any potential issues, such as high customer churn rates. It also helps in making data-driven decisions related to customer acquisition and retention strategies.

Key Differences Between ARR vs MRR

While both ARR and MRR focus on recurring revenue, there are key differences that make them suitable for different scenarios.

  • ARR provides an annual view of revenue, while MRR focuses on monthly revenue. This difference in timeframe allows for different insights and analysis.
  • MRR offers a more granular view of revenue by tracking month-to-month changes. This enables businesses to identify trends, patterns, and potential issues that may not be visible in an annual view provided by ARR.
  • MRR is particularly useful in tracking customer churn on a monthly basis, allowing businesses to address any issues promptly. ARR, on the other hand, does not provide this level of detail.
  • ARR is commonly used by more established businesses that have predictable revenue streams, while MRR is favored by startups and businesses in their growth phase, where monthly revenue fluctuations are more critical to monitor.

Choosing Between ARR and MRR: Factors to Consider

When deciding whether to use ARR or MRR, several factors come into play:

  • Business Model: Consider whether your business is more suited to annual or monthly revenue tracking. If you rely heavily on subscriptions or long-term contracts, ARR might be a better fit. For startups or businesses with fluctuating monthly revenue, MRR provides more relevant insights.
  • Stage of Growth: Assess the stage of growth your business is in. Established companies with stable revenue streams may prioritize using ARR to analyze long-term performance. Startups or businesses experiencing rapid growth may find MRR more valuable for tracking monthly trends and identifying areas of improvement.
  • Data Availability: Evaluate the availability and accuracy of data needed to calculate ARR and MRR. If your business lacks the necessary data or struggles with data accuracy, it may impact the reliability of either metric.

Ultimately, the decision between ARR and MRR depends on your business’s specific needs and goals. It may even be beneficial to use both metrics in conjunction to gain a comprehensive understanding of your revenue streams.

ARR vs MRR – Which Metric Should You Use?

Both ARR and MRR are valuable metrics for understanding the financial health and growth of a business. ARR provides an annual snapshot of revenue and is favored by more established companies with predictable revenue streams. On the other hand, MRR allows for monthly tracking of revenue, making it more suitable for startups and businesses experiencing rapid growth or relying heavily on monthly subscriptions.

When deciding which metric to use, consider your business model, growth stage, and the availability of accurate data. It may also be beneficial to use both ARR and MRR together for a more comprehensive analysis of your revenue streams. By leveraging these metrics effectively, you can make data-driven decisions to drive your business forward.

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