A quick handy guide to know:

  • Accounting Basics For Subscription Companies
  • What Makes Subscription Accounting Different?
  • Why Is Reliable Accounting Important For Subscription-Based Businesses
  • Bring Bookkeeping Automation To Your Subscription Business
  • Subscription-Based Accounting System Infrastructure
  • Subscription-Based Financial Reporting & Metrics
  • What Is The Easiest Way To Manage Bookkeeping & Accounting For Subscription Businesses?
  • Let’s get started:

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    Introduction To Accounting For Subscription Companies

    More quickly than ever, the subscription economy is expanding.
    As you can see, since the majority of businesses rely on subscriptions, they require a particular kind of bookkeeping and accounting solution.
    Let’s examine this chapter to learn what distinguishes accounting for subscription businesses and how to apply it to your company.
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    Using a service or product on a subscription basis and paying annually, monthly, or occasionally is what is meant by the term "subscription economy."

    Whatever the motivations behind your decision to launch a subscription business, your company's bookkeeping and accounting should be a major priority.

    And yet, it's essential to properly manage your business.

    You need to study all the fundamentals of accounting if you want to build a successful company and remain legal.

    However, bookkeeping and accounting are more difficult than you might imagine. You should know how to accomplish it in the most efficient method if you want to have a precise understanding of the financial health of your company.

    What Is Subscription Revenue?

    When customers have to choose whether to renew their subscriptions, recurring yet predictable income streams like subscriptions result in higher customer retention.

    A separate financial model governs businesses that provide subscription-based solutions as opposed to companies that only offer one-time products or services. Subscription revenue isn't clear; it comes in the form of payments for future services.

    Recognizing subscription revenue is only a small portion of revenue recognition generally. When the process of generating revenue is finished or the income is earned, revenue recognition is the act of registering the revenue.

    How To Record Subscriptions In Accounting?

    The initial fee for a subscription service is often charged to a deferred revenue account or listing when using subscription revenue recognition. The performance obligation is met during each subscription billing cycle. The remainder of the upfront fee for that period might then be recorded as accrued or recognized revenue.


    What Makes Subscription Accounting Different?

    Many firms all over the world employ the subscription accounting type.
    It is something that supports the development of long-lasting client connections, steady revenue growth, the introduction of novel goods and services to the market, and the augmentation of more conventional offers.
    Let’s dig into the chapter to find out more:
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    Subscription Accounting Advantages Involves:

    The following are the main benefits of subscription accounting:

    Revenue predictability:

    Long-term contracts won't have much of an impact, but as more customers are acquired under this model, revenue will increase over time and become more predictable.

    Possible lesser discounts:

    Because a customer might be entitled to certain unforeseen future benefits, they might consider that right to be valuable. In the beginning, this may serve to give a negotiation advantage, which could lead to cheaper discounts.

    Reduced risk:

    Reducing the revenue from the start decreases the probability of recognizing too much revenue too soon only to restate later, especially if a corporation tends to offer concessions or future undetermined features to a customer.


    Why Is Trustworthy Accounting Is Vital For Businesses That Rely On Subscriptions

    Understanding a company’s revenue and operations is possible thanks to good accounting. The future of a rapidly expanding subscription business depends on having access to this data.
    Along with the practical advantages of efficient accounting, having organized startup finances makes it easier to raise venture capital or become ready to sell your company.
    Let’s explore this chapter and find out the importance of trustworthy accounting:
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    Without accurate, trustworthy financial records and current financial statements, your startup may find it difficult to raise money, the fundraising due diligence process may be delayed, or your earnings may suffer in the event of an exit.

    Last but not least, maintaining precise accounting practices helps avoid unintended tax violations and unexpected tax bills. Financial records are necessary for state and federal tax filings. Additionally, keeping meticulous financial records enables businesses to take full advantage of R&D tax advantages.


    Automate Your Bookkeeping For Your Subscription Business

    Over the past ten years, the accounting business has seen significant chaos.
    Accounting software is now more accessible and economical for companies of all sizes thanks to cloud-based technologies.
    In this chapter, we will let you know how you can automate your bookkeeping for your subscription business:
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    There are countless reasons for shifting to cloud-based solutions. 

    The cloud solution saves money for businesses. With the cloud, you don't need to purchase extra hardware to ensure that your capacity is adequate; instead, the server just detects a requirement and either immediately or quickly provides you with additional room.

    Your financial information is stored in the cloud when you use cloud-based accounting software, which is a subscription-based online service you sign up for. Simply said, without it, you cannot automate your bookkeeping. 

    You may optimize numerous company procedures with the program and manage your financial data across all of your devices. Let's examine five factors that will ensure that cloud-based accounting software maintains its dominance in 2022.


    You will save time by eliminating repetitive and normal chores with cloud-based accounting software. You can automate the following tasks with the software: 

    • Paying vendors 
    • Sending invoices 
    • Following up on overdue payments 
    • And much more 
    You'll have more time to devote to the tasks that will truly advance your company by automating your monthly routines.


    Accuracy will rise whenever technology is introduced and human involvement is reduced. And cloud-based accounting software does just that. The software will check for duplicate entries and other typical accounting errors in addition to reconciling your accounts in real-time.

    And to help you understand where your money is going, your transactions are automatically categorized. Additionally, you'll get through data on your company's inventory, earnings, and costs. Additionally, there are no time-consuming updates to do because the program is hosted on the cloud.

    Real-time Accessibility

    You can access your financial data using cloud-based solutions from any device. Additionally, you may access the data at any time and from any location, which is crucial because so many individuals work remotely, creating their schedules and maintaining productivity.

    You can readily access your financial information if you, your partners, or your employees have an internet connection and access to a phone or laptop. This makes it simpler to manage your company's finances and make wise business decisions.

    The way accounting and bookkeeping are done has altered as a result of cloud-based technologies. Because of this, more than 50% of large businesses use cloud-based accounting.

    Therefore, if you haven't switched yet, it's likely that your rivals have. Cloud-based accounting is the way to go if you're searching for a means to automate your bookkeeping and decrease duplication in your firm. You may handle accounts receivable, pay vendors, and optimize your accounting process by making use of cloud-based accounting techniques.


    Subscription-Based Accounting System Infrastructure

    Cloud computing” or “Moving to the Cloud” is used to build the infrastructure for subscription-based accounting applications.
    This makes things easier for both the businesses that buy the accounting software and the providers that sell it.
    Businesses can access their accounting system, for instance, by logging into their account online or downloading an app rather than installing software on every device.
    All in all, the opportunities and advantages of the cloud extend far beyond. Let’s learn more.
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    Cash vs Accrual Accounting

    Many firms begin by adopting cash basis accounting to track their finances. Cash accounting involves tracking revenue as it is received in cash and deducting costs from that total. 

    Although this approach is simple to use and maintain, it is not advised for SaaS companies. It is ideal for small firms or those with a limited customer base or inventory. Regardless of the amount of cash on hand, accrual method accounting does not count revenue until cash is earned.

    Although this way of accounting is more complex, it is ideal for large organizations and SaaS companies that generate revenue through subscriptions. Additionally, accrual accounting may be mandated by investors and government regulators, so it's a good idea to get ahead of these requirements.

    GAAP-Compliant Financial Management 

    The term "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" (GAAP) refers to a set of rules, laws, and standards for accounting that are intended to harmonize business accounting practices across industries. 

    The purpose of GAAP is to ensure consistency and openness in financial reporting across all organizations. Although GAAP accounting standards are not needed for companies, doing so from the beginning has advantages. Your forecasting, financial modeling, and financial analysis are more accurate and dependable since GAAP calls for your financial activity to be set up consistently and similarly.

    Working with precise and current financials is essential for SaaS organizations, which significantly rely on financial projections to guide important business investments and choices. In addition, GAAP will be used by accountants, lenders, and investors to assess your company's financial position. Having this in place will save time and effort if your company needs to re-state financial data while seeking investment or a loan.


    Subscription-Based Financial Reporting & Metrics

    Contrary to the conventional transactional business model, the subscription-based business model provides an alternative means of generating income.
    This explains why most companies have shifted to this strategy over time because it emphasizes enduring connections and income development.
    To make sure you’re on the right route and have a viable business model, it’s crucial to monitor your subscription company data.
    What indicators for your subscription business should you monitor? Explore this chapter:
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    You need to look for criteria other than revenue in a subscription business to assess its performance. This is since subscription firms place a greater emphasis on client retention than client acquisition.

    In this way, their revenue is consistent, sustainable, and to some extent predictable. This demonstrates how crucial it is to monitor subscription business indicators to guarantee a consistent flow of money.

    You'll discover the analytics for your subscription business in this article. But first, let's define subscription business KPIs and examine their significance.

    Monthly Recurring Revenue

    MRR stands for monthly recurring revenue, which a company derives via a variety of subscriptions.

    One of the key indicators for any subscription business is this one. This is because it displays the total monthly revenue from active subscriptions. It's the KPI that recurring businesses use most frequently.

    By dividing the total number of your clients by the average monthly subscription rate, you may get your MRR.

    This also applies to subscription plans that are annual, quarterly, and semiannual. In these circumstances, dividing the total rate by the number of months will yield the monthly rate.

    Other monthly metrics, including new accounts, upsells, downsells, and churn, can be tracked in addition to MRR.

    These comprise fees such as:

    • Set-up fees
    • Suspended subscriptions
    • One-time activation fees

    Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA) 

    This is one of the subscription business metrics that keep track of how much money each user account is bringing in for your company. When compared to monthly recurring revenue, it is a more precise method of analyzing revenue, especially for tiered subscriptions. This is so that you may determine more precise numbers by basing ARPA analysis on each package.

    You divide your whole subscriber count by your total monthly recurring revenue to arrive at ARPA. This includes any freemium users you may have. ARPA aids in determining how many of your subscribers are from pricey versus inexpensive packages. For instance, a rise in your ARPA may signal a rise in the number of premium subscriptions you have.

    This indicator also assists in determining whether, if any, your free plans can be maintained by the revenue from your paid subscriptions to achieve sustainable growth. Or if enough people sign up for your free plans to make them financially viable.

    Average Revenue Per User (ARPU):

    When companies provide various subscription levels, average revenue per user (ARPU) provides a clear picture of how much money a firm is making from each subscriber over a specific time frame, like a year. Any subscription business wants to raise ARPU by promoting add-on sales, upgrading basic members to premium tiers, and/or both.

    Churn rate:

    It is a measurement of how quickly a company is losing subscribers and relates to the number of consumers who have canceled their subscriptions over a specific period.

    Cost of acquiring new clients (CAC):

    No matter how many consumers a company has, it's critical to make sure they aren't costing the organization more than they are earning. Another concept that intersects with other business models is the customer acquisition cost (CAC), which can be computed by dividing the sum of money spent on acquisition activities over a certain period by the number of new customers gained from each action over the same period.

    Client Lifetime Value (CLV):

    One of the most crucial metrics for subscription-based businesses to track is the customer lifetime value (CLV), which determines how much money a specific client is likely to bring in throughout their whole relationship with the company.

    Of course, the objective is to make sure the CLV is substantially greater than the CAC, and businesses may use this figure to target their sales and marketing expenditures to foster profitable, long-lasting client relationships.


    How Can Subscription Businesses Manage Bookkeeping & Accounting The Easiest Way Possible?

    There are seven crucial components to setting up your accounting in the early phases of developing your subscription business.
    The suggestions on this list serve as a decent introduction, but most of what you need to know will depend on your industry and area.
    You must employ a qualified expert if you want advice that is specific to your needs as a business and assistance when it comes time to file your taxes.
    Asking for recommendations is the greatest approach to finding a competent accountant.
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    The best approach to determine whether an accountant is reliable and knowledgeable is to get a recommendation from a friend or coworker who has had firsthand contact with them. 

    If asking around doesn't help you find somebody, look into the local accounting firms. Check on their website to discover as much as you can about their specialty and experience. You can also seek for client reviews to get a sense of their reputation.

    It's crucial to comprehend the two primary groups into which accountants fall when conducting your research:


    Because they are held to a greater standard of accountability than unlicensed bookkeepers, CPAs will charge more. The level of risk associated with engaging CPA firms is decreased by the fact that they are subject to oversight from a state agency. You have options if they perform work for you incorrectly.


    Hiring a bookkeeper can save you money, but you won't have the same level of security. They might still perform an excellent job, but there won't be a neutral party to hold them responsible if they make a mistake, which could leave you with more severe repercussions.

    Some Useful Tips To Stay On The Top Of The Bookkeeping & Accounting:

    Maintain Accurate Records of Income and Expenses:

    This is among the most crucial aspects of business accounting. It's how you'll monitor your company's profitability and gather the data you need to provide the IRS with your business's income and outgoing costs. Decide which system suits you the most in this situation.

    The most crucial thing is to make sure you keep track of everything, not how you do it. If you're old school and prefer spreadsheets, you can use them; if you want a simpler choice, you can invest in good accounting software.

    Separate Personal and Business Spending:

    Having a company bank account makes it easier to keep track of your personal and business expenses, which in turn helps you keep your personal and business expenses apart. The majority of banks and credit unions allow you to open a business bank account. 

    Look around to see which local banks have the finest features and lowest costs for business accounts. You can even open a business account at the same institution as you conduct your personal banking if you prefer convenience.

    Establish A Well-Ordered System For Tracking Income & Expenses:

    One of the most crucial aspects of corporate accounting is to do this. It's how you'll monitor your company's profitability and gather the data you need to provide the IRS with your business's income and outgoing costs. 

    Decide which system suits you the most in this situation. The most crucial thing is to make sure you keep track of everything, not how you do it. If you're old school and prefer spreadsheets, you can use them; if you want a simpler choice, you can invest in good accounting software.

    Set Up Nexus In All Applicable States :

    If you run an internet subscription service, you may be able to reach clients in all 50 states or even abroad. There will be an increase in profits, but you will also have to deal with the difficulties of sales tax. You must ascertain how to comply with each state's specific sales tax regulations as they vary from state to state. Setting up Nexus in each state that demands it is a part of that.

    Since setting up nexus is a complicated procedure, it is ideal for most firms to hire a business that specializes in doing it for them. The larger accounting company you selected in step one might provide this service, but the majority of smaller ones don't. 

    Choose Between Cash Basis And Accrual 

    There are two alternatives available to businesses for how to disclose their accounting to the IRS. When reporting and deducting company expenses on a cash basis, you only record the money you have already received. In other words, it won't be taken into account when you file if they owe you money that they haven't yet paid. 

    It also doesn't matter if you owe a vendor money on an unpaid invoice. You disclose all that is owed to both parties when using an accrual basis. It is taken into account if you have already sent an invoice to a customer who is past due on payment. You may still deduct money that you owe a business but haven't paid. Which solution is best for your company can be suggested by your accountant.


    The secret to thrive and survive in the subscription economy is bookkeeping and accounting.
    Even if you run your business perfectly, sloppy bookkeeping can cause everything to fall apart.
    Find a qualified CPA who can help you create an accounting system that will enable you to stay on top of things moving forward.
    By doing this, you can make sure you adhere to the law, keep a close check on how your company is going, and be better equipped to make decisions as you go.
    We at FreeCashFlow.io are ready to take care of your bookkeeping, taxes, and pursuit of new heights.
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