300 or $60,000? How to talk about numbers.
A friend recently asked me how many copies OneVoice had sold. Without giving it much thought I responded “about 300”. Only after seeing his reaction did I realize that sounds like a really low number. In the world of app sales tens of thousands is considered a baseline. OneVoice has greatly exceeded my expectations and been quite successful. So why did I choose a number that made it sound like a failure?
First I answered his question directly (how many copies sold), rather than rephrasing it to answer his true question: How successful has OneVoice been? Instead I should have responded that it has made about $60,000 in gross revenue. That is just as true as saying 300 copies have been sold ($200 per copy), but it represents the success completely differently.
Revenue or Profit?
Last fall I published an article on my blog titled “How I made $19,000 on the App Store while learning to code.” It was about the money made so far with OneVoice. $19,000 sounds like a good number*, but that’s still not the whole picture. That figure is profit, not gross revenue. Though I think profit is a more important metric, businesses talk about themselves in terms of revenue. If there is a standard way to talk about business size (revenue) you should be using it. Rather than artificially making your company or product sound less successful.
Use the metric that makes the most sense for how you want to represent your business.
* Note: the $60,000 in gross revenue is as of June, 2012. The blog post about $19,000 in profit was from October, 2011. The numbers come from different times and should not be directly compared.