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How to Build a Small Business Dashboard

"You've got to be making data-driven decisions!"

That's what they say at least!

Not too long ago, that sentence was rarely said in the small business world. Now, people say "I need a financial KPI dashboard in Power BI that links to QuickBooks and my CRM." A stark change in the way data is viewed in small business.

I'm all for it! Not just selfishly because I run a dashboard and analytics company, but because it's better for small businesses! The more people are using their data, the more effective they can be. The more effective they are, the more they grow, hire, scale, etc., and continue creating jobs and new ideas to beat the corporations!

Now, I'm not anti-corporate, but I am VERY pro-small business.

That's why we're giving them our secrets on how to create dashboards! Seriously!

Keep reading to learn how to build a small business dashboard in Excel and in Google Looker Studio.

Why are dashboards important for small businesses?

Think of it this way... the dashboard itself is just the vehicle we (and most people) use to consume their data (aka to be more data-driven).

So the question is really "why is data important for small business?" And that is a more obvious answer.

Combining the art of the gut instinct and the science of data is the most powerful combination that a small business owner can use. Your gut instinct is always working and ready to go. Data is the hard part.

  • When folks use data to complement their gut, they make more informed decisions that often work out significantly better.

  • They become more efficient because the data can quickly point you in the right direction.

  • They are instantly fully informed and whatever decision you're making in life, the more informed you are, the better.

So why are dashboards important? Because data is super important!

Dashboards are the most effective way to consume and understand your data. Plus they make it feel less like data, which honestly makes them kind of fun to use and check daily!

Of course, we cover this in a bit more detail in the course, but don't worry - it doesn't take very long to get through. We know people want to focus on the "how to" of the dashboard building!

How do you get data into a dashboard?

If you're pulling data from any software that you use, the big question is how to get it from point A to point B, right? It's the reason a lot of people stop before they even get started!

We cover this part in detail in the course!

The bottom line - data has to come in easily and consistently so you can manipulate it with some easy automation (even if it's just Excel formulas that are pre-loaded) in a backend table or database and then have it feed the dashboard.

There are some great automation tools out there like Zapier and Coupler to get data from the software to the backend of the dashboard, but the ultimate backup for everything is a CSV download.

The natural progression, as you can probably tell, is software (ex. QuickBooks) to a database of sorts, then to the dashboard - so it's really point A to B to C!

All three steps are covered in the course and we deal with a QuickBooks online data source as an example so it's hopefully a very tangible example for most people!

How do you build a small business dashboard in Excel?

One of our favorites! We talk through all the easy ways, simple formulas, creative visuals, etc. so you can become an Excel dashboard master in no time!

We follow the same steps listed above but get into the details of doing it in Excel!

Data intake (and how we do that), to a "database format" (which is a lot less scary than it sounds), to creating visuals that make the data usable (and some keyboard shortcuts along the way).

We've got you covered!

How do you build a small business dashboard in Google Looker Studio?

This is the final part of the course where we get to use a (free) fancy web-based dashboard tool that comes with all of the user-friendly features you'd expect from Google but with the robust power of a business intelligence tool.

Again, we walk through the same overall process here but show how to do it using Google.

Big benefits to Google Looker Studio include its shareability, it can easily be automated to update whenever you need it to be, and it has a very professional feel to the finished product!

Ready to start our small business dashboard course?

Thanks for reading our post on How to Build a Small Business Dashboard.

We really do want to help small businesses be more data-driven and this is one of the many ways we are doing that!

We of course have our custom services and our dashboard products but this course offering is a unique and inexpensive way to be able to build dashboards and use your data on your own!

Make the decision to use your data to grow your business and I promise you'll see the positive results from it. Especially if you are using a dashboard to view your results. The sky is the limit!

Learn more about our custom dashboards:

Other Dashboards:

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