Think It's All Spreadsheets?
Most people who attended high school in the early 2000s will remember being taught to use Microsoft Office on their bulky, grey school computers.
Of course, this office included the infamous Microsoft Word (with the snazzy word art!), Microsoft Powerpoint to make presentations about William Shakespeare, and, of course, Microsoft Excel. But, if you used Microsoft Excel in school, it probably seemed a bit 'grown up,' especially compared to the fun and colorful other programs that came with Microsoft Office.
As a program, Excel has evolved, and now, it is part of almost every business enterprise somewhere along the line, from using it to track incoming payments from clients to utilizing it to send invoices as a sole trader. It is multifunctional, but still, unless you know what it is capable of doing, it can still seem a bit, well, boring!
But, in 2023, if you are starting a business, you may be amazed at how insightful and helpful this program can be to help you actually grow and develop your business. Yes, you read that right! Many start-up companies use Microsoft Excel to not only track their income and send out invoices but also use it to analyze their business as a whole, track sales, and much more. Great!
So, read on to learn how this seemingly boring program can help you to grow your business.
You can use Excel to track and analyze your business's financial performance over time, such as creating a budget, forecasting future sales and expenses, and analyzing the return on investment for various business initiatives.
This may sound tricky, but you can use Excel's built-in forecasting tools or create your own formulas to predict future sales and expenses based on historical data, which will also assess things like seasonal changes, consumer data, and consumer spending habits.
You can also import financial statements into Excel and use formulas to calculate key ratios, such as return on investment (ROI), debt-to-equity ratio, and gross profit margin, to get a better understanding of your business's financial performance and assess areas that may be causing you to lose money.
At this stage, it can be worth hiring an excel consultant to show you how to do this, so it can be a skill you can use as often as you need to during the business year.
As excel is a spreadsheet, you can easily use it to keep track of your stock levels, reorder points, and product sales. The best way to do this is by using Excel's inventory management templates or by creating your own customspreadsheet. By using Excel to manage your stock inventory, you can have a clear and organized overview of your inventory levels, sales, and supplier information, which can help you make informed decisions and improve your business operations.
For example, you can determine the minimum levels at which you need to reorder products and create alerts in Excel to notify you when your stock levels drop below these points. This will ensure that your most popular products are always in stock, so you can keep your business ticking over.
Customer Relationship Management
You can also use the program to store and manage customer information, including contact information, purchase history, and feedback.
If you have an online section of your business, it can help to use Excel's sorting and filtering tools to segment your customers based on specific criteria, such as location, purchase history, or interests. For instance, do they only use your store to buy bedding? This logging with Excel can help you tailor your communication and marketing efforts to meet their needs better. Paired with artificial intelligence and email marketing, this can be very powerful and can really help your business to boom and get more consumer interest.
Speaking of email marketing, Excel can also be used to track and record which kinds of marketing your consumers respond the most to. That way, you will waste less money on ineffective methods to promote your business and will get the results and sales that you need to thrive.
One of the most important areas when it comes to running a business is the sales of your product(s). And, if your business is newer, it can be tough to know how to keep track of which items are selling and which ones aren't.
But you can use Excel's pivot tables to create reports that summarize your sales data by product, customer, or any other criteria you choose. You can also use Excel's conditional formatting features to highlight important information, such as high-performing products or underperforming sales regions. This will allow your team to track your sales by product, customer, region, or any other relevant metric to help you make informed business decisions. Once again, this will prevent the loss of money and will help your business to thrive. Great!
Ideally, you will need to be conducting sales tracking every month, but when it comes to the holiday season, some businesses ppt to do so once a week. This helps with the more fast-paced demands that come with the holiday season, and will help you keep your business in supply of the products that are selling the fastest!
There have been a lot of advertisements online relating to spreadsheet-type apps and programs that can be used by businesses to help keep track of projects, deadlines, etc. And, if you have seen any of these adverts, you will have noted the interface itself looks a lot like Excel, just with different colors in the background, and a bit of a smoother interface. That's not a coincidence! And you can save your business a lot of money by sticking with the basic Excel program, which can do pretty much exactly what these allegedly higher-tech versions can do!
You can use Excel to create project plans, assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. Excel can also help you and your team to determine and manage the human and material resources required for a project that you are starting. You can create a list of tasks and assign them to specific team members, track their progress, and identify any resource constraints or areas where they may be issues with supplies or staffing long before you begin the project, saving you time and money. Great stuff!
As your business grows, you will start taking on more members of staff. This means that your HR department will need to keep track of all of those who are on your staff, what their job titles are, what they earn, as well as their shift patterns. Excel to the rescue again!
You can create a very detailed schedule for your employees using Excel, taking into account factors such as shifts, days off, and availability. This will allow you to sort and filter the data in your spreadsheet to help you quickly find the information you need. For example, you can sort the data by employee name, job title, or shift schedule.
You can then share the schedule with your employees by printing it or sending it as a file and can use Excel's sharing features to collaborate on the schedule with your team in real time, allowing you to keep track of who is doing what and when it will be completed by.
Most sole traders who are newer to the area wish there was a way for some of their tasks to be automated, such as the compiling of invoices, tracking of pay cheques to employees, etc. But, by using Excel macros and VBA, you can automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry and report generation, which will save you or your staff time and money.
If you are looking to invest as part of your business growth, you can also automate this process, allowing you to choose the most suitable companies to invest in.
Who doesn't associate Excel with bar or pie charts? You can use Excel charts and graphs to visually represent your data and make it easier to understand and analyze all areas of your business, from expenditure to income, even to looking through the best areas to focus your marketing campaigns on. It is far easier to grasp for almost everyone if it is presented in a pie chart, as opposed to reams of data!
Supply Chain Management
If you run a shop and have to order in stock, you will need somewhere to store information about suppliers, such as their contact numbers, their emails, and, of course, how much you spend on their products! You can use Excel to manage your supply chain contact information, including tracking supplier delivery times, monitoring inventory levels, and analyzing demand for what you are selling. Using this method, you can have a better idea of which suppliers you may need to boost your business interactions with, and which ones are simply not making you money anymore.
Excel can also help you to track increases in costs associated with suppliers, alerting you to when it may be time to look for a new group to purchase products from.