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When to Set up a KPI Dashboard for Startups and Which Crucial Metrics to Consider

Written by

James Watney

Last updated on

December 5, 2022

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You’re probably too busy running your company to also be responsible for making every single business decision your team makes. 

But you can easily democratise the decision-making process by setting up a KPI dashboard for your startup. It’s the best way to empower your team to make informed decisions without spending too much time figuring out how to navigate the platform - or the numbers.

KPI dashboard builders (a.k.a business intelligence tools) come with different features to present your data in a way that’s highly visual, interactive, and up to date. But how do you choose which metrics to include?

We’ve compiled eight metrics every startup KPI dashboard needs to stay on top of profit, users, issues, and talent.

Table of contents 

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4 times your startup absolutely needs a KPI dashboard

Keeping track of your key performance indicators is a way of visualising your business from the inside. You don’t need to be looking at them all of the time, but doing so in any of these scenarios will improve your decision-making skills. 

1. Changing your business strategy 

If you’re adjusting your strategy, it’s important to review your KPI dashboard at different touchpoints:

  • Before making a decision. Whether it’s a big or small decision, if it’ll impact the course of your business, you should make it based on actual data.
  • Forecast the new strategy. Use historic data to estimate scenarios to put the new strategy to the test.
  • Real-time after the change. Make sure you set counter metrics to review if your new strategy is affecting other KPIs. 

2. Accelerating startup growth 

If your startup is growing fast, you need to keep track of your metrics using a custom KPI dashboard. As this guide for BI dashboards explains, tracking relevant metrics for your business will show you if any KPIs are jeopardised by rapid growth in other areas.

3. Business as usual (BAU)

You should include a KPI review as part of your weekly tasks. Spotting unexpected figures early on - like drops in sales in a particular region or leads increasing out of the blue - can make a huge difference to your growing startup.

4. Working on too many things at the same time

It’s common to not have enough people to work on everything that needs to be done, but that doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. In those cases, having an automatically updating KPI dashboard will simplify the way you monitor projects. You can also set automated alerts to be on top of changes in KPIs while being focused on BAU.

Which is the best platform for building KPI dashboards for startups?

The best KPI dashboard for startups is the one that connects seamlessly to your databases and that your users find easy to navigate. You can choose KPI dashboard solutions that work on-premise or cloud-hosted, depending where you keep your data. is a great fit for founders and entrepreneurs since it’s a truly no-code solution. It connects with most SQL data sources directly or by integrating with Zapier. is built for busy professionals that need access to their data fast via clear visualisations, or even automatic Slack and email alerts. 

If your startup is e-commerce or mainly focused on marketing data, then, Cyfe might be a better solution for you. Cyfe is also easy to set up and use, but it integrates with your social media apps to import data directly from them. It also offers whitelabelling which is a great asset for marketing agencies sharing data with clients.

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8 unmissable metrics for every startup dashboard

Your KPI dashboard is like an x-ray of your business. It allows you to see what’s really going on inside your startup. For a startup KPI dashboard to be useful, you must include business-related metrics. Here are 8 metrics examples that will make your visualisation valuable. 

1. Churn and conversion rate 

These metrics are crucial for every business, but especially for Software as a Service (SaaS) startups that depend on user retention to stay afloat. 

Customer churn rate is a key performance indicator that tells you how many paying users stopped using your product or service. To calculate it you should divide the number of lost users during a period of time by the number of total users up to that date. 

Conversion rate is the percentage of users that become paying customers after a free trial or after being exposed to a social media ad. To calculate this, you should divide the number of new paying users by the number of trial users or leads over a period of time.

Comparing churn vs conversion rate allows you to see if your users are satisfied with the product and if your marketing efforts are paying off.

2. Users: new, active, inactive in the past month 

Paying attention to your users is more than offering great customer support. It’s also being able to read between lines.

Keeping track of new users shows you whether or not your product or service is valuable and whether it’s actually solving a market need. 

Reviewing inactive and active users tells you if your product or service is valuable as well, but also tells you if someone is close to churning and gives you time to work on retaining them.

3. Monthly revenue rate (MRR) and annual run rate (ARR) 

Customers are valuable for a simple reason: they bring money to your business. Tracking MRR and ARR allows you to see how much revenue you’re making each month and forecast how you’ll gain by the end of the year. 

For example, if your MRR is $10,000, you can estimate that your ARR is going to be $120,000. Being able to forecast your ARR means you'll spot any potential drops in profitability before they become a serious problem.

You can keep track of users and MRR using a dynamic text box in

4. Customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (LTV)

CAC tells you how much money you’re paying for every new customer. This is particularly important to measure against LTV, which tells you how much money you expect to earn per customer during their relationship with you.

The goal is to have the customer LTV be at least 3x the CAC. That way, you can ensure profitability.

5. Revenue and profit growth

The revenue growth metric lets you visualise the growth of your business in terms of money compared to the previous period. 

Profit growth is the amount of money that you got after paying all the business expenses, compared to the same past period. You can measure these on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. 

Reviewing revenue and profit growth lets you spot areas of opportunity that might result in:

  • Adjusting the marketing strategy to reduce CAC
  • Increasing prices and LTV
  • Reducing other operational costs

6. Cash flow, account payables and receivables 

Reviewing how much money you have available in your account today, how much money you’ll be getting in the next couple of days, and the invoices that you need to pay paints a financial picture of your startup. 

These metrics are crucial to truly understanding the health of your business. You can be growing month over month, but if your account payables are always leaving you close to zero or you rarely have cash flow, then you’ll need to adjust your strategy.

7. Net promoter score (NPS)

This is one of the most relevant metrics for growing startups. The NPS indicates how likely your customers are to promote your business to others. If the number is low, then it’s an indicator that your service or product is not solving a market issue or is not valuable enough. A good NPS allows you to forecast business growth. 

Monitor NPS to measure customer satisfaction and avoid becoming obsolete.

The closer your product or service is to 10, the most likely users are to recommend it to others. 

8. Team productivity

This metric can come in different shapes and sizes. You can measure the number of hours your team members take to complete a task, sprint burndown, team velocity, or any other internal metric you come up with to address this.

The important thing to remember is that in KPI dashboards for startups, you can’t overlook team productivity metrics since you probably need everyone you have to perform at their peak to ensure you’re making good use of your money.

Related Post: How to Set up Your Business KPI Dashboard for Growth

How to get the most out of your KPI dashboard

Some BI dashboard best practices include: 

  • Thinking about who is using the dashboard and why they’re using it
  • Making it visual so it offers an at-a-glance representation of your business metrics
  • Adding colours to share the story of your business.

Pro tip: compartmentalise your key metrics and create different types of BI dashboards, including one for each area of your business and for each target audience.

“You need your dashboards to be decipherable, avoid clutter, and be selective about your metrics,” explained Justin Soleimani, Co-founder at Tumble. 

“You can always make multiple dashboards. For example, in a customer service dashboard, I’ll focus on average response time, churn rate, and net promoter score (NPS). I often view metrics in line graphs to check how customers’ responses change over time.”

Not sure which dashboards you need? Some common BI dashboards examples include a sales KPI dashboard, financial dashboard, and HR dashboard.

Related Post: A Simple Guide to Using Non-profit KPI Dashboards for Mission Success

Do you need a KPI dashboard for your startup?

If you want to ensure you meet your goals, you need a KPI dashboard for your business. KPI dashboard tools give you the freedom to work on your business and make educated decisions while being focused on achieving your main goals. 

Again, defining your key indicators needs to be a personal choice, but you can’t skip customer churn, conversion rate and profit growth. 

Also, is the best solution for startups like yours because it offers unlimited access to users and ad-hoc dashboards. That means that you don’t have to mash all your metrics into one single page visualisation: you can create as many as you need without worrying about hitting the limit. That, along with the fact that it's incredibly lightweight, makes it easier to scale and grow with you.

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Frequently asked questions about KPI dashboards for startups

How do I set my startup KPIs? 

Setting your startup’s key performance indicators depends on your business model and which metrics are crucial for your company. When defining your KPIs be sure to 

  1. Choose the metrics that relate to your type of business
  2. Narrow it down to a few crucial metrics
  3. Select metrics that make sense for your company's maturity stage

What makes a good KPI dashboard?

Good KPI dashboards are the ones that:

  • Are uncluttered and readable at-a-glance
  • Use colours to tell a story
  • Contain only relevant data to the target audience
  • Are easy to understand and use by decision-makers

How do you measure success in a startup? 

A startup is successful when:

  • It achieves business goals
  • It achieves investors’ business goals
  • It’s profitable 
  • It solves a market problem

Setting up a BI dashboard to measure your key performance indicators (KPIs) is a good way to measure success.

What is a strategic dashboard? 

A strategic dashboard is an interactive data visualisation that’s commonly used by senior management and the executive team to get a high-level overview of business performance. The information is reviewed for forecasting and long-term planning. This dashboard is usually complex to understand because it includes data from all departments. A KPI dashboard for startups can also be a strategic dashboard.