How to Build a Business Dashboard

A guide to seeing your business’ vital signs at a glance

So all things aside, business at the end of the day is trading a service or a product for a financial reward. I think we can all agree on that.

However as simple as that concept may be, anyone with skin in the game will quickly inform you that the above statement is like describing a Formula One race car as a vehicle that takes petrol to make it move.

I suppose my point is this. Business is as simple and as complex as you wish to make it. It’s for this reason anyone in the game who is looking to grow – and grow fast – knows the importance of a dashboard.

STEP 1 – What the heck is a Dashboard?

A Dashboard is a set of information that is regularly updated to give the business owner a clear understanding of what is actually going on in their business at a glance.

Consider it like the dashboard of your car. In one quick glance you can see the temperature, fuel, speed, distance, revs, and so on. Immediately identifying how things are going without having to pull over, pop the hood and get the tool box out.

So quite quickly I am sure you can see how important a dashboard is to your business. Without it you are either wasting time… or driving dangerously.

STEP 2 – What do I track?

Well, what appears on your dashboard differs for everyone, especially when you consider business type, size, turnover, and so on.

Some things will always be present on the Dashboard, much like speed, revs and fuel while driving. In your business you will need to know your current turnover, net and gross margins, most likely on a monthly cadence.

It always amazes me how many people simply do not know where their business sits financially.

STEP 3 – Don’t track everything!

Ok, so now we know what a dashboard is and what we HAVE to track. The next thing is to know what NOT to track.

Without fail, when we start developing a dashboard the business owner will track more than they need to. This is actually not a bad thing, but in the long run it is not sustainable, because it just gets too hard.

So aside from the standard numbers you need to track in your business, add a maximum of 5 other KPIs.

The question I always ask to determine what KPIs to track is as follows:

“If everything else remained the same but 5 things increased, which 5 would have the greatest overall impact on my business?”

So if you are a service based business client, satisfaction and referral is essential.

If you are a trade or construction based client, source and error rate is essential.

If you are in professional services such as finance or health, I would be setting targets for new JVs each quarter.

But at the end of the day everyone is different. Remember – don’t track everything, but track something!

STEP 4 – How do I build it?

Well most software like Tradify, Clinicko, Sales Force etc will provide you with information around your performance, but it will be your responsibility to collate it and report to it.

If you don’t have these programs, a simple well maintained Excel document or Google sheet works very well for a sole trader.

If you have employees or managers, request ongoing performance reports from each department in a fortnightly or monthly cadence. However, it’s crucial that the managers are aware of how their information is being used, and that they must report to it!

Without reporting to the information they will have no investment in it, and the reporting just becomes a task.

It’s your job as the Director / Owner to demonstrate the correlation between the new direction and reported information.

Step 5 – Use the dashboard, no really!

Finally, too many business owners will have great information presented to them but general work gets in the way. Checking your dashboard is NON-NEGOTIABLE.

How long do you think you can drive without checking your fuel or speed?

Not long!

And the guys behind you who are crystal clear on what they need to do and when they need to do it in order to hit their targets will overtake you in no time.

So I always recommend checking the dashboard once a week. But not necessarily reporting on everything once a week.

For example, track sales conversion weekly, lead generation fortnightly, revenue monthly and error rate quarterly.

But at the end of the day while all of this information is good, it often takes someone to build a dashboard out with you to get the ball rolling.

So for that reason I am running a webinar where we will build out your dashboard live on the call, it’s free so if you want to jump on you can follow the link here.

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