If you have worked in an office environment or run a business during the last 20 years, you probably have extensive experience with Microsoft Excel. While you have likely not yet explored even a small fraction of Excel’s vast potential, you are comfortable with it. Likely including some basic functions, navigation, and equations. If you are interested in further leveraging the power of Excel, below are 4 ways that this ubiquitous program can help you better run your business.
Does your business rely on any number of data collection tasks on a daily basis? If you are doing this manually, you are not making efficient use of your time. Using excel to automate data scraping is one of the easiest and cheapest automation implementations you can make. And, it requires no monthly premium subscription fee or constant marketing emails. There are essentially two ways to scrape web data using Excel. The simple way and the macro way.
The simple way involves selecting the cell where you would like the web data to appear. Then go to data>from web>. Enter the web page URL you would like to collect the data from into the web query box that appears. Then hit the go button. This eliminates tedious copying and pasting and tab or window switching. Another way is to design a macro using VBA, Excel’s programming language, to collect data. There are great tutorial sites like Spreadsheet Planet that provide walkthroughs of these more advanced Excel skills.
Many new small businesses make the mistake of starting cost tracking too late into their start-up phase. Infrequent purchases seem easy to keep track of when you are just starting out. However, they can quickly get away from you once your business starts to grow. Accurate and meticulous cost-tracking is part of good business. As such it is an important habit to get into early on.
Even if you aren’t ready to start using something like QuickBooks or another virtual bookkeeping service right away, Microsoft Excel can help. Excel is a simple and effective way to manage and keep tabs on your costs, large and small, right out of the gate. You might want to consider something more sophisticated as you grow, but Excel is perfectly capable of basic bookkeeping for any business.
Excel is a great tool for client and investor presentations for many reasons. But it is particularly good for its ability to turn data into useful and attractive visual representations. Data-driven presentations are crucial for drumming up new business. They can also keep current customers abreast of new information or changes. Plus you can use them to entice investors while trying to raise capital for growth.
Converting data into a chart or graph is a much more dynamic experience for people to see things. For example, your customer acquisition costs, year-over-year revenue growth, and budget projections. Being able to create compelling visual information in Excel and embed it in a PowerPoint presentation is crucial.
If you don’t have an HR department keeping track of and managing your human capital, Excel is a great substitute. Microsoft Excel is a great way to organize employee information. You can include their skill sets, performance review takeaways, and key data from their resumes. This is all useful information to keep on file in the event that you find yourself with a skills gap that needs to be filled. Or, if you are looking to hybridize a role, or someone comes to you with a plan for upskilling or professional development. Having a database of all of your team’s capabilities is a good way to make sure you are fully utilizing talent throughout your company.
Excel is one of the most expansive and useful software programs available to business owners. Its data crunching and organizing power are almost unrivaled for the price, accessibility, and integrability. Plus it has a wide range of other commonly used office software. There are many ways to use Excel right now that can save you time. It can help you store, organize and synthesize data in ways that are incredibly helpful to your business. Keep the above powerful uses of Excel in mind and get the most out of this highly common but underutilized program.