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

Updated to Business, Productivity on January 3, 2023.

I was in a car the other day with a radiologist and a neurosurgeon talking about hypertension. 

This conversation is actually not as unusual as it might sound. I volunteer for a local society that does trail clearing in a popular hiking and mountain bike park and many of the volunteers happen to be recently retired doctors. 

Back in the car, one of the doctors happened to mention that recently his medical partner, who is in his early 60’s, had a mild stroke. As we wound our way further up the dirt road to our work site my education continued. 

I learned that strokes are the second biggest cause of mortality worldwide and the third most common cause of disability. The scary statistics get worse. As you age your chance of a stroke doubles every 10 years after 55

There’s a checklist of health conditions that make you more susceptible to a stroke, like obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But the biggest culprit – six times out of ten – is hypertension or high blood pressure. In my books, that’s worth paying attention to.

What’s interesting is that stress, in itself, is not the direct cause of high blood pressure. It’s what we do when under stress that leads to nasty results. We eat too much, drink too much, and move too little. Basically, we deal with stress by making unhealthy choices.

For me, stress starts with worry.

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

I’ve had a lot of worries

There is a world of problems you can worry about – take your pick. You can worry that Ukraine will be pummeled into a tiny province of rubble, or that we’ve passed the tipping point with global warming, or the tiny spot on your chin is cancer. 

Or not.

“I’ve had a lot of worries,” quipped Mark Twain “most of which never happened.” Our mind loves a good worry. Like a dog chewing a bone, we want to turn our worry around, looking from all angles, poking and prodding until it swells up into something bigger than it really is.

I used to worry incessantly before every keynote speech. I’d worry I’d miss my flight or wasn’t prepared enough, or I would be greeted by the “audience from hell.” Trust me, when you have 60 minutes to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, and get laughs from an audience you’ve never met before, any sane person would invent a long list of worries.

It was at one of those events when a fellow speaker opened an exit door for my worries. He suggested that audiences don’t want you to fail – in fact, they want you to succeed. “They want to see you having fun—enjoying yourself. That way,” he explained, “they can enjoy the ride with you.”

When I accepted the long list of what I could never control – my flights, the audience, the speaker before me going overtime – I was free to focus on what I could control.

Enjoying the moment. 

What your life will have been

In her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön tells the story of delighting in the preciousness of every single moment.

A woman is running from lions. She runs and she runs, and the lions are getting closer. She comes to the edge of a cliff. She sees a vine there, so she climbs down and holds onto it. Then she looks down and sees that there are lions below her as well. At the same time, she notices a little mouse gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries emerging from a nearby clump of grass. She looks up, she looks down, and she looks a the mouse. Then she picks a strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Learning what to focus on, and what to ignore, seems to be the ultimate secret to living a healthy, stress-free life. “Whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment,” writes Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks (a must-read for anyone over 50), “is simply what your life will have been.”

So, what are you focussing on?

What to focus on

You can learn a lot when you’re the dumbest one in a car full of doctors. I learned that strokes are a silent pandemic. And that hypertension is the leading cause of that pandemic. And I learned the leading cause of hypertension is stress. 

I was also reminded that stress is a choice.

We all have lions and tigers in our life. Maybe even a mouse or two gnawing away at something we value. Meanwhile, we have the moment.

Choosing what to focus on (and what not to) might just be the healthiest choice you can make.

Got this far? You might also like these posts:

Photo of eggs by Nik on Unsplash
Photo of Ngoc Son Temple by author
Photo of tigers by author

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.


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.


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.


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.


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]


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.