The Most Important Hour of Your Week – Creating Your High Level Dashboard
Most small business tracking, big or small, is driven by dashboards…
For those of you that aren’t super technical, or don’t have experience with them, dashboard reporting is simply the organization of your most important data into an overview format.
Improving your small business tracking dashboard.
In simple terms, your dashboard puts all of your most important data in front of you for review.
Disorganization is one of the main killers of small businesses – which is why creating your own dashboard is a critical need.
It doesn’t matter whether your dashboard is an Excel spreadsheet where you plugin some data or a fancy visual stats app like Graphly…what matters is that you’re assembling the data and looking for trends.
Here are some important pieces for small business tracking and dashboards.
What’s your sales number for the previous week?
This one seems obvious on the surface, but it’s something that way too many small businesses aren’t tracking enough.
You can look at this number every day for managing your activity, but you also want to make sure that you’re maintaining an ongoing weekly or monthly trend document to measure the overall health of your company.
This trend number becomes critical when your company is in the process of expanding.
As tasks get delegated or reassigned, losing sight of the cash flow can result in one of the toughest small business problems:
Expanded expenses combined with a decreasing cash flow trend.
Obviously when this happens, your business becomes BUSY instead of productive. New employees or contractors may not have the understanding of revenue expectations that you do.
Also, many owners try to keep their revenue figures close to the chest for fear based reasons. Team might want more money if they discover that there’s revenue coming in without understanding the nuances of the business expenses?
Personally, I don’t agree with that trend, but it’s something I experience often in coaching and consulting.
It’s best to look at this number weekly, monthly, and annually to determine trends.
Who is on your (or your sales team) follow-up list for the week?
Managing the future of your sales and not just your marketing is critical.
Your sales follow-up list doesn’t just have to consist of fresh and new leads either.
Who are you reaching out to that you haven’t spoken to recently?
How often are you reaching out on a one-on-one basis to your existing customer base?
If you notice that this list has become too repetitive or too empty, letting it stop isn’t an option.
What are your primary lead generating efforts for the week?
I didn’t just call this “marketing,” because that can be a high-level term that encompasses branding, creative, and all sorts of other activities that don’t bring new leads in the door.
In their presentations, Infusionsoft uses the term “caveman marketing” to define why this number is important.
In a one-person show, the focus tends to shift wildly between sales and lead generation efforts.
You fill your calendar, then focus on closing your sales.
Then you notice the leads aren’t coming in and you shift toward creating campaigns, going to events, paid ads, or partnerships.
This takes up a ton of your time which decreases the sales number.
Keeping these two numbers relatively stable, viewed at the dashboard level, is critical to your success.
Both numbers shouldn’t explode or dip wildly when you can avoid those shifts.
Where was your time and your team’s time invested in the previous week?
I can’t share the benefits of using a system like Harvest enough for tracking your time – especially in a consulting business.
However, for years I did this using a plain old calendar (Google Calendar if you’re curious).
As you start and complete tasks, revise your appointments to put a category at the beginning of each block of time (such as sales, marketing, fulfillment, etc.).
If you have multiple projects you’re juggling like our team, you would put the category, then the project, and finally the task/notes.
How much was spent on your marketing/lead generation efforts for the previous week?
Time is as much of an expense, if not even a greater expense, in my business than money.
Time is the most valuable asset that I have to manage.
In the early stages of growing your business, your time is spread very thin and you’re constantly switching “hats” between functions.
This is why it’s so important to get in the practice of tracking your spend early.
What marketing efforts are paying off the most based on your investment?
What things do you need to stop doing or change your strategy?
This also helps you identify scourges like wasteful meetings or unproductive gatherings.
Creating your small business tracking starter dashboard.
Opening up the conversation to the world of advanced metrics can take you down many different rabbit holes.
There are all sorts of stats that can be helpful on a dashboard that are directly related to ongoing campaigns, paid traffic, expenses and accounting numbers, or anything else.
During your most important hour of the week, it’s important not to get too involved in the minutiae before looking at the big picture.
Managing this for yourself and each teammate as you grow will keep you focused on the right things for growth.
Do you have specific challenges related to these numbers that you want to see us cover on future sessions?
Let us know in the comments below!
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