What is a Business Dashboard? Do you need one?

Do you drive a car? If not, have you ever been in a car? I am almost certain you’ll say yes to one of these questions.

A dashboard is a control panel located directly ahead of a vehicle’s driver, behind the steering wheel displaying instrumentation and controls for the vehicle’s operation. A driver uses the dashboard to make all the possible decisions he has to when he is driving or isn’t driving. He can track his speed, know when to refuel, any engine issues, whether any doors are not locked properly etc. In fact, any car’s dashboard has anywhere between 10-20 useful metrics.

Now imagine if the car did not have a dashboard; you wouldn’t able to track your speed, you’ll have to manually check the fuel levels (or automatically when it’s empty!) and you’ll be alerted about any engine issues by smoke only! The dashboard communicates everything a driver needs to know about the health of the car and in turn, this information is used to make any further decisions.

Similarly, a business dashboard or a dashboard is a decision-making tool which will give a “Live Health Check” of your organisation. Information related to the key metrics is aggregated and condensed from the Management Information System (MIS) reports. Indicators are applied to this information to make it valuable and insight-providing. These indicators will help you make informed business decisions. You will know exactly where your business stands and it will be mapped against where you wanted your business to be! Dashboards are customised to every different business depending on the industry, size, number of functions and the executive’s needs.

What’s it in for you?

1.  Ease of Data Access

Do you have trouble finding the data that you need? And when you need it the most? Be it sales, marketing, finances, production, etc. Get all the key information readily available at one place without having to contact multiple departmental heads for the same.

2.  Calculated decision making

A dashboard will present you with all the parameters that you may require to make a business decision. Do you need more financing? Is the stock enough? Where can we increase profitability? Do I need to hire more staff? Or do I need to work on the efficiency of my current staff? All your questions shall be answered.

3.  Areas for improvement

By using a dashboard you will be in a position to identify which department needs your attention and then you can zero in on the root cause to make sure what needs to do in order to get that function at its efficiency.

4.  Know what’s happening

If you are a business owner who is often on the road and yet, likes to keep a tab on the office operations, the business dashboard is your remote control. You can operate and make key decisions from any part of the world using just a dashboard.

5.  Visual Representation  

Dashboards incorporate a graphical representation of key metrics such as Sales, Profitability, Production, etc. which can be tailor-made as per an executive’s needs. It is certainly true that a picture speaks a thousand words – and so do pie charts and bar graphs!

6.  See the Big Picture

As entrepreneurs, you have the vision to need to remain in alignment with. The dashboard will tell you whether you are on track with your long terms and if not, it will tell you the deviation so that you can take some actions and get back on the horse ASAP! How else do you think companies like Microsoft and Google run?

There are dozens of Softwares available online for dashboards. However, if you are a startup or an SME, we can make a Dashboard in Excel or Google Sheets and that would be enough to care for your needs for a while!

How to travel for 30 days every year in spite of working full time!

“Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul.”

Just about three years ago, I realised that just two short trips every year wasn’t enough and at this rate how much of the world would I be able to explore? Nope, this wasn’t a happy realisation. I had to do something about it.

After doing a short survey with about 15 people who work full time as entrepreneurs or employees, 25% of them traveled for less than 15 days last year and the rest, less than a week and some did not travel at all last year! When asked how long they would ideally like to travel – the general answer was about 15-20 days.

I will tell you how you can travel for at least 30 days. And I mean real vacations – short trips of 4 days and long trips of 7 days or more and that’s excluding the weekend getaways to your beaten to death hill stations where you’ve been to a thousand times.

This is how I started traveling a lot more in just four steps (I am not saying it was easy, but you have to start somewhere!)

1. Change in perspective

If I wanted to travel more, I needed a little ‘change in perspective’ of how I looked at travelling. I realised that travelling wasn’t an end goal for me. I don’t want to accumulate money till 60 and then go berserk traveling. I want traveling to be a “way of living” for me.

2. Budgeting

Once I calculated how much I intended to travel every year, I started saving and immediately earmarking funds for such trips. Now, I categorize my trips into short/long trips and backpacking/luxury trips. I use financial tools such as SIPs, recurring deposits and other instruments to keep funds aside.

3. Planning

When I was working, my bosses would often tell me a straight NO if I applied for leaves on a very short notice. I changed my strategy and started applying for leaves 6 months prior to my trips. It has multi-fold benefits: flights are cheaper, accommodation costs are discounted and leave approvals became a cake walk.

4. Creating steady revenue streams

This is the most important step. If you want to travel, you need to spend money; and if you want to spend money, you need to earn money first. Now earning money while travelling cannot happen unless you are a travel blogger, photographer or videographer. I am none of these; I am a Business systems consultant. To get over this issue, I created a system around me to ensure that there is money coming in even when I am going out!

And it’s working beautifully for me. In the last 4 years, I have travelled to 26 different locations on 18 trips, accumulating to about 168 days (42 days every year) The number may not be a staggering one for a full-time traveller, but it will definitely mean something for someone who is company-employed or self-employed full time.

Best way to choose a name for your Business!

“Nothing in marketing can succeed unless the name is right. The best company, the best product, the best packaging, and the best marketing in the world won’t work if the name is wrong.” – Al Ries, Marketing Expert

Once your business idea is brewed and it is clear that you will follow the entrepreneurial path, there’s only one thing that can stop you from formally forming a company, making a visiting card, your website or setting up an office – The Business Name.

A name is important. It becomes your organisation’s identity. In some cases, it could represent the values. In some cases, it may represent your product’s quality. In today’s world, it really represents how visible and unique you are.

A few years or a decade ago, naming your company would’ve been the easiest thing to do. However, with social media being your numero uno place for marketing it is quite essential that your name be a standout and you get a unique domain name for the website as well. What better than your website being the first link displayed on Google when searched!

Here are seven steps for you to come up with a name –

1. List down all related words

If you are setting up an entity in the healthcare segment, your list of words could be care, nutrition, strength, health, wellness, power, muscle, lean, fit, and more. These words are your gateway to commencing the naming ceremony – the starting point.

2. Synonyms and meanings

A dictionary and thesaurus come in very handy here. Or simply Google. One by one check the synonyms and meanings of all the words you have penned down in step 1. Oftentimes, you will stumble upon an interesting sounding synonym which has a simple meaning and yet it is unique.

3. Combo it up

Don’t be afraid to combine two words to form a name. It can be a fun exercise. For example, if you were naming a gym – athlete + lean = athlean (Name’s already taken!). Veritus (Meaning Truth in Latin) + Horizon = Verizon. Nintendou breaks into Nin which means something along the lines of entrusted and ten-dou means heaven.


Word Combiner

4. Words from other languages

Some simple words sound tremendously interesting in a different language. Try out French, German, Latin, Spanish etc. any language that uses English letters! For example, Sony comes from ‘Sonus’ which is a Latin word for ‘Sound’. Lego comes from the Danish language “leg godt” which means to play well.

5. Abbreviations

Abbreviations can be amazing. The just get stuck on your tongue. The long form could be something boring but the acronym could sound very catchy. For example, PVR is actually a joint venture agreement between Priya Exhibitors Private Limited and Village Roadshow Limited. FCUK, although looks like a pun actually stands for French Connection UK. Many more examples like NASA, SHIELD (from Marvels!) etcetera

6. The Litmus Test – How unique is your name?

Let’s say you’ve narrowed 2 or 3 names, which one do you go for? How do you choose the final name? The ultimate test is to make sure the domain name is available by the same name. Always go for a .com. If .com is not available then go for the country-specific extension: .in being for us Indians.

What if both are not available and you really like the name? Is it a good idea to go for a different extension like .co.in or .biz or .tv or the likes. It’s gonna take some effort and good SEO to get your site to higher search results. Although difficult, it is not impossible. But I have evidence that with good SEO comes good results on Google search. Simplywall.st is a terrific example.


Trademark Search

7. Should the name be related to the product?

Yes and no. It can be beneficial to have the name that conveys what the company is about. For example. The Coca Cola Company, Microsoft, Wealthharvest, etc. However, the world’s largest companies have names that are absolutely unrelated to what they do. For example, Google (Meaningless word!), Amazon (it’s a river), Apple (it’s a fruit), Blackberry (again!), etc. Although it can be argued that they are famous now so it doesn’t matter, however, they were small businesses at some point! So how you market and brand your company matters!

Why do most Small Businesses fail?

“Most small businesses failed because the owner was under-skilled, not under-capitalized”

– Robert Kiyosaki

Business failure isn’t something you think about when you start a business. Only about one-third of the small businesses that start survive for ten years or more! The statistics seem to be grim. Although the reasons can be numerous, the most prominent ones being lack of planning, poor management of finance & operations and not scaling up efficiently. Let’s look at them one by one.

1. Lack of proper planning

The idea of entrepreneurship is so exciting that most entrepreneurs completely miss out on the nuances of running a business. They fail to budget workforce needs, working capital, long-term expenses, maintaining proper accounts, strategising, analysis, etc. Everything is an on-the-go-as-we-need basis. Lack of planning can be an understatement, sometimes there is zero planning.

2. Poor management 

Most business owners are people who have worked in the same line of business previously as an employee. They make the fatal mistake of assuming that “knowing the line of business” is equal to “knowing ‘how to run’ that line of business”. That is where the downfall starts. Accounts, cashflows, finance, taxation, other compliances etc. all take a tumble.

3. Inefficient scaling up

Either the scaling up happens too soon, without the right research and analysis or it just doesn’t happen. Most businesses grow turnover-wise but forget to grow workforce-wise – that’s where the inefficient scaling up phase starts. This leads to automatic loss of business and a stagnant growth. There is no business system to go forward with.