Four essential elements for a good dashboard are:
1) Easily communicates information
2) Has minimum number of distractions
3) Supports the business with meaningful or actionable data or information
4) Utilizes human visual perception, visually communicates information
Dashboards can be utilized by any area of the business such as sales, operations or finance. A dashboard for the entire business or all operations can be created showing key indicators for each of the functional areas as well. As with any report, knowing who the audience or the consumer of the information (sales manager, finance director or CEO) will help in knowing what information or view is needed.
We recently created a dashboard that has data in regards to new business filings and currently active businesses. We used data from RefUSA. We included all new business filings and for active businesses we used registered and verified businesses with less than one million in revenue and less than five employees. Below are a few screenshots of sections of the dashboard.
As we can see the information gives us a good view of smaller businesses in Bexar County. From above we now know that new business files in Bexar County have been steadily increasing since May. The percent of home based new business filings has also been more than 50% since May as well. We know that there are 47,028 verified active businesses and that 34% are female owned businesses. The one aspect that stands out is that even though 30% of registered businesses are Hispanic owned, as an ethnicity Hispanics in Bexar County are more successful in keeping their businesses open (only 12.3% closed) while African Americans in Bexar County face greater challenges (22.3% closed). (To see the full Small Business Dashboard with info for Texas and the US click on the pdf link in our Business Counts section or visit the newsletter tab on our website)
Dashboard design is almost like a fingerprint, each one is unique and is driven by the needs of the business and what the business feels are the most important aspects that should be measured. You can't use a cookie cutter approach and apply a template to different businesses. Knowing what drives your business and how best to measure it will aid in designing a dashboard for your small business.