Business Dashboards and Important Numbers

I consider business books useful if I get at least one useful idea out of the book. Reading through The Lean Startup, I found most of the lean methodology to be already familiar. But the author did hint at one thing which I decided to implement: figuring out how much business comes from new vs. repeat customers. I could get some of this info through the ADV Customers and a little spreadsheet work, but it was far from a complete picture.

So I built a MySQL database and downloaded my transaction data as CSV files from Stripe and PayPal. Next, I made a simple loader using the sql2o and Apache Commons CSV libraries. The first simple, working tool I found to make a dashboard with charts and graphs was PHP Reports, though I might try out Pentaho Community later.

So now I can get an idea of whether growth was coming from new customers or existing customers. You always want to maintain your existing base, as you’ll eventually run out of new people to sell to. (I don’t quite have any actionable information just yet; I need to create a few more reports.)

The next step would be to automate downloading the regular transaction data from Stripe and PayPay and load it to my reporting database. They don’t seem to provide an API to suck down the entire CSV, so I’ll have to do some more research.