Imagine someone looking for a vehicle to purchase? They have reviewed the photos online, they get a copy log-book for the vehicle and everything else looks great. They go to the car yard to try their hands on it. The salesperson takes them over to have a look at the vehicle. It is in perfect shape. The paint work is great. It matches their dream colour. Wine red. They open the bonnet. It is clean and they almost wonder where the previous owner used to live. Finally, they get into the front seat. Swing the steering wheel. They check the central locking system for the doors, the windows and everything seems great. However, there is something that is not looking right but they can’t tell. It finally dawns on them that the vehicle has no dashboard.

Why would that bother them?

Rightwave in their blog dated 10 September 2020, titled “Vision of progress: the past and present of digital car dashboards” describe a dashboard as follows. “A car dashboard is a control panel usually located directly ahead of a vehicle’s driver, displaying instrumentation and controls for the vehicle’s operation. Modern digital dashboards will also contain infotainment information, too, including things like maps, music and temperature control.”

Dashboards are used for different purposes. These are some of the one I thought are critical:

  1. a) Fuel Gauge
  2. b) GPRS
  3. c) Dashboard Alerts like check engine

Just as vehicles need dashboards, all businesses need dashboards.

The author of Klipfolio describes what a business dashboard is by saying, “A business dashboard is an information management tool that is used to track KPIs, metrics, and other key data points relevant to a business, department, or specific process. Through the use of data visualizations, dashboards simplify complex data sets to provide users with at a glance awareness of current performance.” The author continues to explain that just like a vehicle has very many processes under the bonnet that impact the performance of the vehicle, the dashboard provides the driver with a peace of mind to concentrate on driving the vehicle safely.

Any business and especially small businesses have hundreds of processes going on. Unfortunately, the business owner alias entrepreneur has to manage those processes with the help of their team. The big task for them then remains, what things must I watch out for to ensure that the business is running smoothly so that they don’t crash it as the driver would a vehicle.

  1. Fuel

The fuel for any business is cash flow. A vehicle cannot function without fuel and in the same measure, a business cannot operate without cash. Rivero, Gordimer & Company in a blog dated 5 March 2018, on “What does cash flow mean”, say that ‘Cashflow refers to the movement of money in and out of the business.” They go further to explain that a business will sell products / services and receives cash. On the other hand, they will incur expenses like rent or cost of producing the products / services etc. The transition of money into and out of the business is what is referred to as cashflow. Cashflow needs to be tracked. Positive Cashflow means the “cash in” is more than the “cash out”. Negative Cashflow means the “cash out” is more than the “cash in”. Any business leader needs to always track this. The leader needs a fuel indicator on their business dashboard so that they can know when they are running out of cash.

  1. Destination

Some vehicle dashboards have GPRS. This gives the driver direction to their destination. Similarly, entrepreneurs need to have very clear guidelines of their destination.

EY Americas writing on 15 Dec 2020 about “Why business must harness the power of purpose”, said “Purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees and more loyal customers, and are even better at innovation and transformational change.” The result of purpose driven companies is great and that is a discussion for another day. When an entrepreneur is clear about where their business is headed, then they can harness their resources well. The entrepreneur must have a destination on their dashboard. A vision and mission statement helps any entrepreneur to keep tabs of their destination. It helps them check where they are going and if they are still going there.

  1. Alerts

Vehicle dashboards have different signs. When any of those alerts appear on the dashboard, the driver knows they must check a certain process under the bonnet. If the check engine sign appears, the driver knows that something may need to be serviced. Entrepreneurs also require alerts for their business. Dashboards can provide these alerts. A good example in a business is the use of reorder levels. One sign that an entrepreneur can use is an alert that shows when their key raw material goes below a certain level. They can use a graph, a report, or a chart. Whatever sign they use, it must enable them to know when to restock so that they don’t run out of the raw material because if they do, it affects their cash flow. The question for the entrepreneur is to identify the things that must be tracked and set mechanisms of tracking them. The entrepreneur must set a system that alerts them when something out of the ordinary occur.

Dashboards are good. However, if the driver ignores or does not use it, it is of no value to them. For an entrepreneur, a dashboard can lead your business and make it better or it can have no meaning. It all depends on you. Create a dashboard and use it.

About the Author: Michael Muthengi Makau

Country Manager: Kenya