Financial Metrics Dashboard: What KPIs Should You Look For?
November 18, 2021
Once upon a time, business accounting involved numerous spreadsheets exchanging hands, each of which required entering and re-entering data manually. Then, after the month’s close, accountants had to hurriedly compile that data into reports, which financial experts then had to interpret to finally—often weeks later—receive useful information about their company’s financials.
Now, developments in technologies like cloud computing, robotic process automation (RPA), and machine learning (ML) have made it possible to keep company financials accurate and up to date throughout the month. Just as importantly, new and emerging technologies have also enabled forward-thinking accounting firms to provide business owners with ways to access and interact with this information in real time. That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of a financial metrics dashboard.
A good financial metrics dashboard functions in much the same way as the dashboard in your car. It provides the information you need to ensure you’re operating the vehicle (your business) safely and efficiently in an easy-to-understand format that you can reference at a glance.
Unlike the automotive analogy, in which the specific metrics in a dashboard are standardized across all automobiles, the metrics included in financial dashboards vary. The best financial dashboards, however, condense the complex information gathered during the bookkeeping and accounting process into a smaller set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that give you at-a-glance insight into how well your business is performing financially.
For the sake of clarity, let’s take a moment to make the distinction between metrics and KPIs. A metric is any of the vast array of numbers that quantitatively express the performance of a business. Put even more simply: If there’s an aspect of your business that you can measure with a number, that number is a metric.
Most of those metrics, on their own, won’t be particularly useful when it comes to making decisions for your startup. That’s where KPIs come in. Financial KPIs are specific measurables that give you actionable insights into the financial workings of your company.
All KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. What sets KPIs apart is their value to you in understanding and making decisions about your company’s finances.
3 Top Financial KPIs To Look For In A Financial Metrics Dashboard
Because every startup is different, which specific KPIs (and how many) will be most useful to you depends on a variety of factors, including your industry, your level of funding, and your company culture and values. Only you (along with the help of an experienced financial professional) can determine those particular KPIs. But, because all startups begin by operating at a loss, there are three top financial KPIs that every startup owner should know like the back of their hand: net burn, cash runway, and cash zero date.
Your net burn is the total amount of money your company loses each month. For instance, if a SaaS startup spends $7,000 per month on office rent, $20,000 per month on employee compensation, and $8,000 per month on server costs but brings in $10,000 per month in revenue, its net operating burn would be $25,000.
Your runway is the amount of time—provided your net burn remains the same and you don’t raise any additional funds—your business has before it runs out of cash. If the example company above has $150,000 in the bank, it would have a runway of six months.
Your cash zero date is, simply, the date when your business will run out of money at its current rate of spending (in other words, the end of your runway). So, if the above scenario describes the circumstances of our example company in February of a given year, its cash zero date would be August of the same year.
For obvious reasons, having accurate and up-to-date access to these KPIs is crucial for any startup founder and can mean the difference between the success and failure of the business.
Are you a business owner seeking a financial dashboard with the KPIs your startup needs to succeed?
The Zeni Dashboard gives you real-time access to accurate, up-to-date information about your company’s finances—including traditional financial reporting, KPIs like those mentioned above, and additional insights—any time, anywhere. In addition to real-time bookkeeping, you’ll also have access to the expertise of our experienced team of accountants, tax advisors, CPAs, and CFOs, all at no additional charge.
Zeni is the first AI-powered full-service finance concierge, offering businesses intelligent bookkeeping, accounting, tax, and CFO services for a flat monthly fee.
Zeni is a modern full-service finance solution, built from the ground up using AI and Machine Learning for startups and small businesses. Our technology platform assists and enables Zeni's dedicated teams to provide automated financial insights and financial reporting to our customers.
Zeni Inc. provides back-office financial services which include Bookkeeping Services, CFO Services and Controller Services. Zeni Inc. is not a public accounting firm and does not provide public accounting services.