A financial dashboard is an online tool that displays various financial data of a business in the form of charts and graphs. It enables the user to track and analyze trends in the financial data faster, while reducing the time required to obtain it manually.
When it comes to startups, a financial dashboard is even more important because it could mean the difference between success and failure. A financial dashboard provides a comprehensive overview of a startup's financial performance and allows founders to constantly track their budget, cash flow, and profits. Below are some of the key benefits of having a financial dashboard for a startup.
Benefits of a Financial Dashboard for a Startup
- Gain better visibility into a startup’s financials
- Make better and faster decisions
- Improve financial forecasting and planning
- Identify costs and expenses more effectively
- Monitor KPIs related to a startup’s financial performance
- Gain better visibility into your financials
- Make faster and better decisions
- Improve financial forecasting and planning
- Identify costs and expenses more effectively
- Monitor KPIs related to financial performance
2. Data and Information Needs for Your Financial Dashboard
When creating a financial dashboard for a startup, there are three key elements of financial data and information you need to include for effective planning, monitoring, and decision-making about your company's performance. This data and information includes daily income and expenditures information, cash flow analysis, and revenues and expenses forecasts.
a. Daily Income and Expenditures Information
A key component of any financial dashboard should include a daily snapshot of your incoming income, as well as expenses. This will not only allow you to assess the financial health of your business, but also identify potential discrepancies between income and expenditures. Additionally, daily income and expenditure data can be used to reveal which activities generate the most profit, as well as opportunities to be more cost-efficient.
b. Cash Flow Analysis
At the heart of successful financial planning and decision-making is understanding your cash flow. By tracking your cash flow, you can evaluate trends over time, such as seasonal fluctuations, to better plan for upcoming expenses and allocate resources. Additionally, it can be useful to compare cash flow with other financial metrics, such as sales and profits, to assess if changes in one area create an impact on another.
c. Revenues and Expenses Forecast
Revenue and expense forecasts are usually created alongside a budget, and help you manage both the near-term and long-term financial health of your business. Revenues and expenses forecasts should include expected income, expected expenses, and potential risks and opportunities, and should be revised regularly to reflect changes in the marketplace. By keeping track of these forecasts, you can anticipate upcoming expenditures and cash flow as well as understand the ROI of past investments.
Customizing the Dashboard
The success of any financial dashboard depends on how it’s tailored to an organization’s unique needs. Customizing a financial dashboard for a startup requires a few key steps: identification of key performance indicators, definition of goals and selection of metrics.
Identification of Key Performance Indicators
Start by taking a look at the company’s core mission and objectives and identifying what’s key to success both in the short-term and long-term. Streamlining these objectives into key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential to accurately track progress and make adjustments as necessary. Key performance indicators are often used to measure a company’s progress towards its strategic objectives, such as market share or customer growth.
Definition of Goals
Once the key performance indicators have been selected, objectives should be defined to match each one. Goals should have specific targets that are attainable within a certain timeline and be measurable in order to gauge progress. Without specific, measurable goals, success will be difficult to measure and achieve.
Selection of Metrics
The best metrics to track KPIs are the ones most likely to accurately measure progress towards the defined goals. For example, a company looking to increase customer satisfaction could use customer surveys or Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as metrics in its financial dashboard. Having an assortment of metrics can provide an accurate and comprehensive view of progress. Ideally, the metrics should provide actionable data and categorize performance in a way that’s easy to understand.
Choosing the right metrics for a financial dashboard helps ensure a startup is on track to reach its objectives. Starting with the definition of objectives, identifying key performance indicators, and selecting metrics will set the foundation for future success.
Creating the Dashboard
Choosing the right dashboard can be an overwhelming process for startups as there are many decisions to make and options to consider. Knowing how and when to integrate a financial dashboard is essential to ensure the optimal user experience and to drive successful business outcomes. This chapter covers how to create the dashboard, including deciding between a third-party system or custom-built dashboard, choosing graphics for the dashboard, and implementing the dashboard.
Deciding between a third-party system or custom-built dashboard
When it comes to creating a financial dashboard for a startup, there are both positives and negatives to consider when deciding between a third-party system or custom-built dashboard. Third-party systems often come with pre-built dashboards that offer many features such as data updates and customization options. But they often come with a cost and can be difficult to maintain and update. Custom-built dashboards offer the benefit of being built to meet specific needs and goals and can be tailored to unique requirements of the startup. They may require more effort to build and maintain, but offer greater control over the dashboard.
Choosing graphics for the dashboard
Graphics play an important role in creating the perfect financial dashboard for a startup. Choosing the right graphical elements is essential to ensure users have a clear, understandable, and insightful experience. Numerical elements, bar/pie charts, and line graphs can be effectively used to visualize data and trends in an easy-to-read format. Additionally, it is important to keep text labels minimal and clearly labeled for data analysis.
Implementing the Dashboard
Once the design of the financial dashboard is finalized, the next step is to implement it. This involves selecting the right hosting platform, setting up the database, and integrating the data sources. For custom-built dashboards, it is also important to ensure any coding needed is secure and optimized. Additionally, it is important to carefully consider the user experience when setting up the dashboard and ensure user functions and navigation are well-defined and effective.
- Decide between a third-party system or custom-built dashboard
- Choose graphics for the dashboard
- Implement the dashboard
Updates and Maintenance
Starting and maintaining a financial dashboard is a long-term process. You must regularly review the data and metrics you’re collecting to ensure accuracy and scalability. Updates and maintenance tasks can become cumbersome if you’re tracking a lot of data and metrics; it is key to have the right system in place to make sure that this process is not too time consuming.
Regular review of data and metrics
Ensuring your financial dashboard is accurate means actively monitoring all the data and metrics you’re collecting. Set aside some time weekly or monthly to review the data for consistency and accuracy, as well as check for any new metrics that need to be added. If you’re tracking financials from various sources, prioritize checking high-impact metrics first in order to ensure accuracy.
Automating the data collected
If the process of manually collecting and reviewing data is too labor-intensive and time consuming, look into automating the process. This requires using a data integration tool such as Looker or Tableau to collect data automatically, as well as alert systems to inform you when data changes. Automation tools can be extremely helpful in simplifying the process of setting up and maintaining a financial dashboard, especially as your startup grows. Automation tools can also help reduce potential errors in data interpretation and visualization.
- Set aside time to review data and metrics.
- Prioritize checking high-impact metrics first.
- Explore data integration and alert systems.
- Reduce potential errors with automation tools.
An easily accessible financial dashboard is key to managing a startup successfully; in order to do this however, it is important to consider the balance between user accessibility and privacy. In this chapter, we will discuss the tools available to enhance accessibility, as well as how to attain an effective user experience.
Tools to Enhance Accessibility
Building a financial dashboard for a startup requires careful consideration when it comes to accessibility. Research should be conducted to determine the best platform for users to access essential information quickly and efficiently. The following tools can prove to be invaluable in enhancing accessibility:
- Cloud-based platforms;
- Mobile-friendly designs;
- Password-protected login pages;
- Secure payment processors;
- Interactive graphs and tables.
These tools will ensure users are able to access the financial dashboard from a variety of platforms reliably, as well as securely store their data.
Balance of User Accessibility and Privacy
When constructing a financial dashboard for a startup, it is important to make sure there is a balance between user accessibility and privacy. It is no use having a dashboard that is easily accessible, if this means the user’s personal financial data will be subject to security risks. Therefore, the dashboard should be designed with the end-user in mind, making sure their data is never put at risk of being subjected to malicious activities.
Investing in secure hosting providers and encrypting financial data is also a great way to give users the assurance that their information is safe and secure. Additionally, platforms such as two-factor authentication, and using a set of security questions and answers can prove to be invaluable in protecting user data.
Building a financial dashboard for a startup can offer a great deal of insight into their financial performance and enable them to make sound decisions which can aid them in their growth. Having the ability to track financial performance allows the start up to identify potential problems before they become serious problems.
Of course, having a financial dashboard is only half the battle; proper use and maintenance of the dashboard is imperative in order to extract the maximum benefit. Startups need to ensure that the data used for their dashboard is accurate and up-to-date. With proper access and maintenance, the financial dashboard can be a powerful tool when managing finances.