2014 Inc. 5000 List

This is part of my Tableau Public Resources series

Welcome to the second installment in a series of visualizations and blog posts where I’m making use of Tableau Public’s datasets that they provide for new users to get acquainted with using the software.

The data for this visualization is taken from Inc.’s 2014 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S.

Each year, Inc. does research to find the top 5000 Private US companies with the highest growth % over a four year span. The list spans across 49 states plus D.C. & Puerto Rico (sorry, Wyoming, maybe next year). The list also includes such industries as:

  • Construction
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Human Resources

Inc.’s website only has a simple list of the companies and their metrics with some filtering capabilities. There’s some rich data in the dataset which is most likely why Tableau Public offers it as a starter dataset. I’m 100% positive that if you gave this dataset to 100 people, you’d end up with 100 different dashboards. I struggled a bit with finding a way to convey this dataset in a dashboard simply because there were so many ways I could go about it.

Below is a screen shot of my dashboard.  Click here for the interactive version.


Wow This dataset has some BIG numbers! The company listed at No. 1 company, FUHU, grew there total revenue by new 160,000%! They went from a mere $123,000 year in 2011 to nearly $200 MILLION. That’s some pretty impressive growth!

This was actually a really fun dataset to play with. As I stated earlier, I struggled with how to present this data. I mulled over several questions, including:

  • Should I focus on more on discovery or insight?
  • Should this be an interactive dashboard with actions or should lean more to the infographic side?
  • Should I try an advanced chart type?
  • There’s geographic data, should I incorporate a map?

As you can see from the final product, I went with a fairly standard discovery dashboard; heavy on the interactivity  (so be sure you click and hover and “play” with this dashboard). I also kept the chart types simple. Easy to read bar charts and a scatter plot. The scatter plot is the most “Advanced” thing I did with this dashboard.

And it’s not really advanced, I simply showed the marks, industry in this case, relative to the average of the two measures. The reason I went with this view was to more easily show how above or below an industry is from the overall average. I feel like it’s easier and puts a number to it. Another reason is because this way lends itself nicely to the common “four box” model used by many industries as a type SWAT analysis.

As I continue using Tableau, I’m really starting to understand the true, raw power of a concise color palette. I’ve been working on my overall design skills when it comes to data visualization. I don’t naturally have a “designer eye” and have no graphic design experience. It’s also really easy to get caught up in all the “dazzling” that Tableau can do.

Knowing that, I’ve been focusing a lot of effort in thinking about color in my dashboard and adopting the common “less is more” mantra. In some early iterations of this dashboard, I had several different measure on the color shelf. Look at the picture above again, only this try to imagine 3 different color palettes on it. Pretty cluttered, eh?

So I was sitting there with rainbow dashboard and walked away from for a couple days. When I came back to it and opened it, my first reaction was, “Ugh, this is confusing.” So then I knew it was time to focus on the colors. Then it dawned on me that I’ve got revenue in every view in some way (row, column, tooltip) and I thought, “why don’t I try putting revenue on color for all the views and format them and gold-green diverging and see how that looks?” Yep, that looked a whole lot better.

As a reminder, there 5,000 the chance that you would know very many is very slim. I wanted to give the use a way to explore more about that company. Tableau URL actions are perfect for this! I simply set a URL action to appear on hover and for the address, I typed out Google’s search URL then added the [Company] field to the end. Then to ensure you are going to search for the company and nothing else I added “+company” to the end of action URL. The equates to the equivalent of going to Google.com and entering “Fuhu Company” into the search bar. Easy peezy!

Click here if you’d like to download the data and take it for a spin!

Until next time!


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