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BEST PRACTICES FOR small Business Success

10 Tips for Finding the Ideal Performance Dashboard for Your Small Business

Small businesses have access to many imperfect tools to measure their business performance. Some are free while others are outrageously expensive. Most are designed for financial reporting purposes rather than optimizing performance. And very few are intuitive or easy to learn.

This guide was created to help small business owners who want to make more data-driven decisions about their business. It assumes that you – like most small business owners – are not a data scientist and hope to never become one. But you know there is value in your performance data that can help your business succeed.

Here are the key attributes of a great dashboard app:

  • Simple, but not simplistic. Some dashboards boast about how many data points they show. Instead, find one that focuses on the most important metrics but is not “dumbed down” to the point that it hides the interesting insights.
  • Comprehensive. The dashboard must include orders from all sales channels – including online and delivery if applicable to your business. You don’t have time to constantly check multiple dashboards, and you cannot make good decisions using incomplete data.
  • Visual. Lots of numbers can be overwhelming.  Well-designed graphs can tell your story very quickly.
  • Accessible. You always have your phone with you, so find a dashboard that looks great on a phone. Fifty-column spreadsheets don’t qualify.
  • Live updates. You need to keep a close eye on your small business whether you’re physically there or not. Real-time updates help you know exactly what’s happening so you can make quick adjustments if needed.
  • Apples-to-apples comparisons. A year-over-year comparison of performance metrics is not useful, but a 52-week comparison is because it compares the same day of the week. See more examples of why this is so important.
  • Details only when you want them. Too much detail is overwhelming, but drill-downs let you zoom in on the details you care about.
  • Forward-looking. The problem with performance data is that it's all about the past. Find a dashboard that also offers projections into the future.
  • Focused on performance, not accounting. There are great dashboards to help with bookkeeping and taxes. That’s often very different from dashboards that help optimize business performance.
  • Low cost or free, but not “Free”. Lots of apps are “Free”, but you ended up paying with your time (watching ads) or your confidential data (shared with third parties). If even one decision is improved by this dashboard, it can more than justify a low-cost solution.

Next Steps

The Manage My Business app was specifically created because there is a lack of low-cost, performance-focused dashboard apps for small businesses. But depending on your specific needs, a free app from your point-of-sale system or similar solution may be a perfect fit for you. Regardless, find a dashboard that provides valuable insights and helps manage your business more effectively.

All screenshots are taken from the Manage My Business app using either fictitious data for illustrative purposes or real data used with permission.
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