Jeff and I have been heads down building our businesses for the last 3 years and now we need a Google Sheets dashboard to get a birds eye view of all of our businesses.
If you haven’t been following along on our journey then let us update you really quickly as to where we’re at.
Jeff and I, are SaaSpnrs (entrepreneurs in the SaaS niche) and we’ve been building our SaaS app for the past 3 years now. Jeff is a Bay area engineer and I’m a Los Angeles based growth hacker (originally from Chicago).
We currently have one profitable application called AccelerList and we’re launching another this month called Jackal. We are laying the backend architecture currently for our 3rd app called ChopSuey. We also just built our first WordPress plugin and started a dev camp called Stack.Camp.
That is a 💩 ton of activity but it’s what I like to call compounding progress.
Essentially, we are growing up and maturing in our niche.
You need a birds eye view of your businesses
So looking into 2019, with so many projects ahead of us and real revenue and grown up tax stuff to deal with. It was time to build out a Google Sheets dashboard.
A business intelligence dashboard as they call it.
There are tons of options for you out there if you would like to use a paid service but we tried them all…literally…and it was more pain than it was worth to set them all up.
Some examples are: Klipfolio, PowerBI, Grow, Zoho, Sisense and some others.
They all were not hitting that product market fit for us.
It either took us too long to set it up or we never got it set up properly or the dashboards looked horrible and not rather helpful.
So you know what Plan B is, right? Build that 💩 yourself.
Google sheets dashboard to the rescue
We purposely built our dashboard on Google sheets and didn’t look for any Google sheet templates because our business and our metrics were unique enough that we felt we needed a custom dashboard.
The above dashboard has changed a little bit since the publishing of this article because our business and what we want to measure is ever changing . But the point of our article is that we feel you should be building this dashboard yourself, especially as an early stage SaaSpnr.
Let’s point out some of the things that were important to us as we built this Google Sheets dashboard.
- We wanted to see top line revenue across all applications
- We wanted to see app specific revenue
- We wanted to see net profit AFTER salaries were paid out (or cash flow)
- We wanted a way to change some revenue or expense assumptions so that we could see how different scenarios affected our over all business
Why didn’t we use some Google Sheets templates?
The short answer is that we didn’t find any good ones. We also didn’t find any that could be manipulated in a short amount of time to help shortcut the development process of the dashboard.
You can build your own like this article suggests but neither of us were up to the task and the opportunity cost was greater to build it ourselves because of the time wasted versus hiring the work out.
Additionally, there are Excel/Google Sheet fanatics out there that love building these dashboards.
So, where do you find them?
Hiring on Upwork
We’ve had a lot of success hiring on Upwork over the last 3 years but we’ve also had a few trainwrecks too.
But we found a great guy from Russia who really geeks out on building dashboards that we could recommend enough.
He was an up and comer on Upwork on didn’t have a lot of documented jobs but we felt this job was low risk and we liked his profile. And it worked out.
I will say that he felt more comfortable working in Excel over Google Sheets but we insisted and he jumped right in and did a great job.
Google Sheets dashboard hacks
Once we got into the development process with Vitaliy we noticed a couple of cool things we were able to do together.
- We could collaborate together in real time.
- Because Google Sheets is online we could both see each other as we moved from cell to cell which really helped us build the sheet together
- We invited teammates
- I led this project for Jeff and I because he was busy coding but I was able to add him as a viewer to the sheet so that he could easily review it and add feedback when it was convenient to him
- We complimented our conversations with real examples
- In Google Sheets you can add another tab and use it as a sandbox to show the developer what you had in mind for charts, data, UI etc without having to toggle over to Upwork and explain yourself in a message thread.
What will you build?
We hope this article helps you shave a little anxiety off of the thought of building out your own Google Sheets dashboard and if it doesn’t, feel free to ask any questions below or comment.
Sometimes it just makes more sense to build 💩 yourself instead of using a SaaS solution. Remember that.