HUGH CULVER

How to create a dashboard for your business in only five minutes.

Updated to Business, Productivity on January 3, 2023.

I admit it—I’m lazy when it comes to watching the numbers in my business. Sure, I read the financial statements from my bookkeeper and pay attention to my bank account balance. But not much else.

That is until I discovered the world of dashboard apps.

Just like in your car, you can have a dashboard that constantly is updated with a collection of important metrics.

WHY DO YOU NEED A DASHBOARD?

Maybe you own and run your own business—like I do—or you’re employed. Either way, a dashboard is a single-source for what’s happening in my business.

A dashboard is a single-source for what’s happening in my business.

I have a dashboard (it’s actually a simple spreadsheet built in Google Sheets) to track my net wealth. I created it about five years ago because I was seeing a financial advisor and I knew they would be asking me for this information. That simple dashboard (it’s a list of assets, liabilities and net wealth) has become incredibly valuable as a measure of my overall success (there’s nothing more sobering than the ‘bottom line’).

If you are new to this game, I would start with your finances.

Let’s look at what else might be worth watching.

WHAT’S WORTH WATCHING

Here are some of the numbers I keep an eye on:

  • Financial – total sales, receivables, expenses.
  • Social media – followers, change month over month.
  • Web site traffic – users, page views, sessions.
  • Web site performance – bounce rate, exit rate, page views.
  • Mailing list Opt-in’s – either from Google Analytics or your CRM (Mail Chimp, etc)
  • Most popular blog posts – a good guide for future posts.

A WORD OF CAUTION

It’s easy to go overboard and build a dashboard NASA would be envious of. Don’t. It’s likely you won’t have time to pay attention to how they’re trending and possibly can’t do much about them anyway.

It’s easy to go overboard and build a dashboard NASA would be envious of. Don’t.

I suggest you start with four to six of the numbers that will actually make a difference in your business. Run with those for a month and check them at least once a week. If you need more, first consider deleting one that has become less important.

DASHBOARD OPTIONS

There are quite a few companies that have gotten on this bandwagon—I won’t go through them all but I will share the one that I’ve fallen for. This article does a great job of comparing options. Most of the apps have a free trial option. I found one other that has a no time limit free option—Dasheroo. The one I use is called Cyfe and it’s terrific.

With cyfe you can get your feet wet for free with up to five “widgets”. Each widget pulls data from one source, like Facebook, or Google Analytics. Within a few minutes you can create your own combination of widgets and—that’s it—you’re up and running.

You can easily set Cyfe up to email you once, daily, or monthly and you’ll receive a nice PDF in your InBox—it’s slick, simple, and you don’t have to hire someone to do this.

[Here’s a quick video of how I create a cyfe dashboard]

WHERE TO START

If you are new to the game, I would look at my list, above and choose (Yes, Watson there are many others, of course) the ones meaningful to you. Again, you don’t need to be watching everything. I would start with:

  • financial (like income),
  • website (traffic, bounce rate, page views),
  • blog (top blog posts),
  • social media (followers on your most important channels)
  • list (total on list and number added this month)

After that, sit back and feel like the smartest person you know.