Dashboards: The Successful Startup’s Secret Weapon
Nobody said entrepreneurship was going to be easy. Business planning, product development, building a team, developing marketing collateral… there’s a lot that goes into getting your business off the ground. While you surely anticipated every aspect of your business planning (right?), what many entrepreneurs fail to account for is how time consuming managing all your data and information can be. In these critical stages when everything is coming together, you may find yourself juggling charts, graphs, and data sets, trying to make sense of them all and striving to understand the correlations between each. If that’s not enough to make you reconsider your decision to start a small business, we don’t know what is!
You are not the first entrepreneur to find themselves swimming in a sea of information, and you won’t be the last. Fortunately, you can set yourself apart from other small business owners by recognizing your need for a better way to visualize data and implementing a solution.
Small businesses that implement real time dashboards from the get-go experience less startup panic (you know, the “Where do we go from here?” conundrum) and an overall clearer vision for the future.
Metrics dashboards will be useful to you at every stage of entrepreneurship; however, if you have recently started a small business, they can be game changing. Aside from being easy to develop and pretty to look at, here are three undeniable reasons you should implement dashboards when you start a business:
1. Gain Immediate Insight Into Important Startup Metrics…
It doesn’t matter what you make, do, or say: every business – small, medium, or Fortune 50 – needs insight into everything from their financials to website traffic, and from burn rate to social media engagement. A key performance indicator (KPI) dashboard provides clean and accurate data, so that you can understand why your startup is progressing the way it is, and know what you need to do to further your success. A few key startup metrics to include in your startup dashboard:
- Burn Rate: The burn rate is the negative cash flow of your startup, and shows how much money you are spending and at what rate. This metric is key to understanding how much money your startup needs to keep growing and operating at a desirable pace.
- Customer Churn Rate: Customer churn rate is exactly what it sounds like: the measurement of how many customers come and go within a given period of time. This should be measured against the customer retention rate of your business for the most accurate insight.
- Revenue Growth Rate: One of the most important startup metrics, the revenue growth rate measures your increase in revenue over a set period of time (typically month-over-month). If you are not seeing a steady increase in revenue, it may be time to rethink your business model.
Dashboards update all of your key startup metrics in real time so that you don’t have to spend hours pulling reports and finding correlations when there are a million other things that you need to attend to, such as preparing your case for investors…
2. …And Use Those Metrics to Streamline Reporting for Investors.
Reporting to investors and venture capitalists is essential if you hope to obtain and retain the funding that your business needs to truly get off the ground. If we’re being honest, startup metrics are almost always shaky; with dashboards, however, your metrics will be impressive. iDashboards’ interactive interface looks nice of course, but it’s not just a pretty toy. Like any good business intelligence tool, its good looks are for a purpose.
Visualization is an essential element of data analysis and reporting. If the end user cannot read your data, make immediate correlations between data sets, or find answers to their most pressing questions, your startup metrics dashboard is not doing its job.
You of course not only want to realize your potential, but also want investors to realize that you have potential. A clean, communicative dashboard helps investors and venture capitalists easily spot the information they need to make informed decisions regarding how they spend their money (or if they spend their money). Without accurate insight into KPIs such as your burn rate, customer churn rate, and revenue growth rate, investors will be hesitant to devote their hard earned capital to your cause.
It is not enough to just present data to investors, however; the data you present must also be useful. For a thorough rundown of what makes data useful, check out our article on Data Integrity. Briefly put, useful data is all of the following:
- Complete (no omissions, holes, or need for further clarification)
- Accurate (supported by additional data)
- Consistent across all data sources
- Transaction Consistency (all transactions are up-to-date)
- Application Consistency (transaction consistency between programs)
Real time dashboards ensure that your data is all of the above (again, in a visually appealing way), thereby giving investors a reason to take a risk on your startup.
3. Spot and Head-Off Potential Problems Before They Arise
Data analysis and reporting is essential, as without it, you cannot accurately gauge the effectiveness of your operations or whether or not you’re maximizing your potential. While KPIs such as burn rate and churn rate are undoubtedly important, understanding social media engagement, website conversion rate, customer behavior, and employee engagement rates is just as much so. Dashboards allow you to analyze every minute detail of your business and look out for any potential problems.
For instance, tracking social media engagement can mean the difference between increased brand awareness and your brand falling flat. Say your engagement was high one week, but the next you notice an extreme dip. It is important to understand what caused that dip so as not to repeat the mistake. Did you post something that offended followers, and do you now need to do a quick remediation? Did you not post at all? Or did you post too much?
If you notice a slight drop in conversions on your website, you’ll want to know what caused it. Did you tweak the sales funnel recently, change the products menu, or delete a landing page? If you’re testing your process and product like you should, you’ll need to know what changes made what impact. Embrace the beta and the data, and you’re on the right track towards success.
Customer behavior is also important to track. If your customers are willing to spend more this year than they were last year at the same time, it may be beneficial to develop a new, more expensive product. However, you wouldn’t be able to maximize on your customers’ increased spending if you didn’t know it was happening.
Read next: Proactive Dashboards Put You In Control
Start Your Business Off On the Right Foot With a Real Time Dashboard
When you take the time to set up your dashboards early in the business planning process, you are ensuring that you have the tools (and information) that you need to succeed. There is no one hard and fast rule for how to start up a business, but there are tricks that can help. Utilizing iDashboards is one of them. Whether you’re an expert on data analysis and reporting or you don’t have the faintest idea about how to analyze data, iDashboards is the easy to use, comprehensive tool you need to make your startup a success.
No one said entrepreneurship was going to be easy, but who said it had to be so complicated? Simplify the details with real time dashboards.