Whether you are a startup business owner, a seasoned veteran, a designer, a wedding planner, or a theatre director, chances are you have the occasional basic spreadsheet that needs to be put together or sometimes a more technical analysis that you may need done as well.
In this economy and with a lean small biz budget, we do not always have the necessary funds to purchase or license fancy software. The bottom line is that most people have Microsoft Excel on their home and/or work computer and much of the analytical work that needs to be done for your business can be accomplished in Excel!
The 411 on Excel
Some of the valuable tasks a business owner can accomplish with Excel include:
- Perform basic and/or complex formulas
- Place to create and store a database
- Cleanse and organize information
- Create charts & graphs
- Create company reports: Excel is often used for Monthly reporting. Whether your data dump comes from another system and is exported into an Excel File (xls or csv), users can create standardized professional reports that merely need to be updated with the new data as it becomes available (weekly, monthly, quarterly etc). These reports can serve as a great template for reporting and ensuring consistency.
Excel and then SUM
In addition to some of the fundamental tasks that can be done in Excel, Excel can also be used to house some more advanced items. Below are listed some sample cases of companies who have used Excel to house some fancy spreadsheets.
Wage Performance/Tracking and Reports: Many small businesses do not have the budget for a fancy payroll system like ADP, or their needs are too specific to use a generalized system solution. That being said, everyone needs to monitor employee pay. Custom databases can be created to track employee payroll that will allow small businesses to easily calculate and keep track of employee hours, payroll and benefits.
Data Management/CRM: Lots of small businesses have databases full of useful data, like customer lists, inventory items, or sales leads, but they don’t always have ways to effectively utilize that data. Often times, it is hard to organize this data in a useful and productive manner. By creating a clean database in Excel, that will house all of this info, you can:
- track each customer call made
- use simple filtering techniques that will allow you to see quick lists of customers based on criteria like Location, Customer Rating and past purchases
- get rid of all of the paper cluttering your home office
- create fancy (well kind of… we are still just talking about a spreadsheet) reports
Financial Analysis: Plenty of business owners, from finance novices to econ experts, use Excel as their go-to place for financial forecasting or budget planning.
Get your spreadsheet on!
So check out Excel, it can be simple and fun. Store your data here… maybe you will become obsessed and use Excel forever. Maybe Excel is just a band-aid till you can afford something else. If this is the case, you will easily be able to import your Excel Spreadsheets to other software when the time comes.
This guest post was written by Jen Portland. Around the Results Revolution, we also love spreadsheets as a dashboard for keeping up with small business marketing metrics. We export our stats from Google Analytics or our e-mail marketing software and manipulate them to help us reach our customers better and to learn how to market smarter from our data. Excel is definitely a friend to small business owners, so if you want to get more from your spreadsheets, chat with Jen Portland, founder & spreadsheeter at Excel Rain Man, an Excel outsourcing and training service. Check them out at www.excelrainman.com.