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Finance calendar    Oct 19, 2017

Measuring Scale: 5 Steps to Make Sense of Revenue per Employee

Five steps CFOs can use to take Revenue per Employee one step further.

Revenue per Employee is a metric that I find in most financial models. It’s a quick and dirty method to check whether the company has appropriate staffing for its stage. However, many investors believe it’s not a great benchmark for growth nor valuation.

I agree with that sentiment – revenue per employee is too broad to drive useful conclusions about a company, and CFOs should take it one step further to inform projected profitability and/or cash burn.

Note: In the blog referenced above, the revenue per employee guidance was in the $190K-$210K range. I typically prefer to see more out of Edison’s portfolio companies (and like to use wider ranges to reduce the chance of being proven wrong), so the guidance I give is $200K-$250K.

CFOs can take Revenue per Employee metric to the next level by using a few more basic assumptions following these five steps:

Step 1: Set revenue per employee goals (or bookings per employee)

In this example, let’s use the conservative end of my range: $200K.


Step 2: Set expectations for the average cost for employee

Let’s say the average salary at your company is $100K and you layer in an extra 30% for taxes, benefits, T&E, and the fact that it makes our calculation clean and easy. So our assumed cost per employee is $130K.


Step 3: Determine the ratio of employee to non-employee expenses

I’ve seen anywhere from a 50/50 split to 80/20, and employee costs are almost always the majority of OPEX. So let’s use a ratio of 65/35, favoring employee expenses.


Step 4: Open Microsoft Excel.

We probably should have started with this…


Step 5: Run the numbers:

If you would like to run your numbers, you may download this basic calculator here.

Revenue Per Employee

Boom! In the example above, we’ve created a plan to breakeven. If we can execute on these unit assumptions (much easier said than done), then we have a scalable SaaS business model.