Microsoft Excel is one of the few programs that any business owner can utilize to improve efficiency with their business. Unfortunately, it is also a tool which is underutilized by most small business users because they either are intimidated by the complexities of some of the more advanced features of Excel or because they simply don’t know about them. If, however, you are a small business owner, here are 5 reasons why you should start using Excel if you aren’t, and why you should expand your use with it, if you already are.
- Track Sales – With Excel, you can collect sales data and place it all onto a spreadsheet. With this data, you can then track sales on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. You can track peak seasons, growth, and even forecast for future sales. It is one of the simplest, yet most complete, ways to track sales for any business.
- Scheduling – If you have multiple employees who work different shifts every day, creating a schedule can be a chore. With Excel, however, you can take all of the guesswork out of scheduling. You can create a spreadsheet which will allow you to be sure your peak times are covered, while ensuring your employees are not working overtime (unless you want them to). You can also use Excel to schedule the use of tools, machines, computers, or offices, to ensure that everyone has access to the items without overlap.
- Finding Trends – By using Excel to track sales and revenues, it can be easier to track trends, both in volume and profitability. This can help you to determine which seasons are best for which types of promotions. It can also help you to account for when you need to staff your business more and less heavily. Beyond that, you can track the successes of various promotions and advertisements. You can track which are most successful, but you can also find trends which might show how long it takes for a promotion to begin to impact business, and how long that impact lasts, to be most cost effective with your marketing budget.
- Human Resources – Excel can be used for HR purposes in several ways. First, for scheduling, as we’ve already discussed. Second, it can be used to help find cost overruns with payroll expenses. So if your payroll seems too high, you can export that data into an Excel spreadsheet to find the cost overruns and to find a way to maximize efficiency in staffing. Finally, Excel can be a great tool in tracking write-ups. If you have a formal warning system for firing employees, Excel can be a great place to keep track of how many times an employee has had an issue, the dates of those issues, and the next steps. It can also help you to track the reasons, so that if an employee is late today, then misses a sales goal next week, then has a client complaint, then is late again, you can quickly track what category each incident fell under to ensure you are following all laws.
- Track True Profits – With Excel, you can merge data from multiple sources to get a true idea of profitability. For instance, you can track the raw sales numbers, account for the costs of materials, payroll, and overhead, then come up with a basic revenue number. From there, you can factor out taxes, fees, and other costs, which may otherwise be more difficult to account for. Finally, you can even use this information to then track the cost over time, to see how profitable each unit sold is.
These are just a few of the countless uses for Microsoft Excel for small business owners. So if you are not currently using it, you should look into it. Even the most basic spreadsheets can help transform your business, making it more efficient, profitable, and successful.