What Is the Difference Between Profit and Revenue?

April 14, 2022

As a business owner, you’re always looking for ways to increase your profit. But what is the difference between profit and revenue?? Read on to find out which one is more important for your business and how you can achieve both!

What is the Difference Between Profit and Revenue?

Talking about money is awkward, isn’t it?

Talking about money is a sensitive topic, and business owners feel vulnerable and open to scrutiny — especially if they’re not clear on how to describe their finances.

What is the difference between profit and revenue?

Revenue is the total amount of money that a company receives from its sales of goods or services. Profit is the amount of money that a company has left after it pays all of its expenses.

Knowing the difference between terms like sales, revenue, profit, and cash flow will help you better communicate with your advisors, investors, and peers.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Sales?

Sales is the amount of money earned from selling products and services. For instance, if you sell 300 units at $10 each in a month, then your sales amount to $3000.

What is Revenue?

Revenue is the sum of all earnings from the sale of products and services, investments, and royalties. For most restaurants, however, sales and revenue are the same.

What is Profit?

Profit is the amount of money left after paying taxes and other expenses. These include rent or mortgage, payroll, maintenance expenses, marketing costs, cost of goods, and capital purchases such as equipment, furniture, signage, and decor.

Restaurants typically have a lower profit margin than other industries, often around 5% to 10%.

What is Cash Flow?

Cash flow is the amount of money coming in and going out of your business at any given time.

Cash flow is the total of how much you earn and how much you spend, which can be either positive (profit) or negative (loss).

Let’s say that you generated $2,500 in sales this week, but spent $3,000 on expenses. Your weekly cash flow is -$500, regardless of how much cash you have on hand.

If you have a great sales week and bring in $10,000 while your expenses remain the same, then your cash flow is positive.

As business conditions change by season or taxes come due, negative cash flow can be a crushing blow to your business if not balanced out by other periods of positive cash flow.

All of these four key metrics —sales, revenue, profit, and cash flow — are interrelated and build on each other. But as you go further down the chain, the effects are felt more directly in your day-to-day operations.

While profits may show that a company is successful, it’s cash flow that keeps the business running.

What Information Do You Share?

In the hospitality industry, it’s common practice for business people to be very generous with sharing information and advice. This can be seen whenever two people are in the same room.

It’s normal to want to know how your competitor is doing. After all, you all are in the same industry.

But with so many small businesses, the line begins to blur between personal and professional. How do you respond when other business owners ask how business is going?

When information should you share?

It’s best not to share more than you feel comfortable with, and remember that your level of comfort (or discomfort) may not match up with someone else. And even with that in mind, always present your success in a range.

When comparing business notes, we recommend the following:

1. The topic of sales is fair game.

2. Revenue is not anyone’s business, especially because it can include complex sources of investment.

3. Your profits are your only concern. Never talk about profit.

4. Cash flow only matters to you, your creditors, and your business partners.

This is not something that should be discussed in general.

Still, smart entrepreneurs can answer direct questions about pricing by talking about the individual costs of specific products or discussing industry-wide issues on labor.

If there’s an industry trend you can talk about comfortably, then you don’t need to bring up personal issues.

This is where industry professionals can learn from each other and narrow down on the common issues they have. Maybe even come up with solutions for them.

Learning from peers without getting too deep into their finances could help you keep new ideas coming and form new business relationships.

Can You Generate Revenue Without Making a Profit?

While both revenues and profits are related to the money that a business makes, a company can generate revenue while losing money. While capital might keep the company running for a while, it is in fact a liability for the business.

The revenue figure sits on top of the income statement as it’s the amount of money you’ve received for the sale of your products or services. You can’t have profits without first having revenues.

Which is a More Important Metric: Revenue or Profit?

While both numbers are significant, net profit gives a more complete picture of the financial state of an organization. It takes into account all expenses, including recurring ones, and shows how well the business is managing its finances.

The gross profit of a business tells a lot about the trends of sales, production, and operational costs. Top-line growth, as gross profit increase is known, is an indicator of a company’s strength and potential growth.

Gross profit, however, is an incomplete measure of a business’s financial well-being because it ignores all overhead expenses.

Net income, or bottom-line growth, is the number that shows how profitable your business is.


The bottom line is that both profit and revenue are important for a business. However, what is most important will depend on the individual business goals. If your goal is to grow your business, then you’ll need to focus on increasing revenue. But if your goal is to increase profitability, then you’ll need to focus on reducing expenses. Either way, by understanding what is the difference between profit and revenue, you can make sure that you’re making decisions that are in line with your overall goals.

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