5 Further Ways Businesses Struggle and How Excel Can Help

Firstly I would like to say that this is the third part of the series, the first two can be found here and here. If you haven’t read them and this post interests you, I suggest that you read the others too. The others ended at point ten so this will start from eleven. There is a full list on our website.

Having been in business for many years, I have often found myself in the situation where I have had to create an Excel document or two to help companies improve their processes. I have come across many different issues and solved them with Excel, so I have written this in case your business struggles with some of the same issues. I hope this helps you.

Eleven. Price lists. People love to do price lists in Excel as it conforms to what most people use Excel for, a few columns with details and prices. Some people even manage to format the price column in order to have it as £ or $ or whatever they require. Excel can do so much more than this, we are able to create various price options which can be altered at the click of a button. So if you have your cost price and you pre-determine various mark up percentages, you are able to see the retail price, trade price and special bulk price (if those are the categories that you want). You are also able to change the mark up for each one as you wish, which in turn will alter all of the prices. You could even take this one step further and link it to your quotation template (also in Excel), so you could select the items on the quote and state which price category that client is in, and the quote will generate! When it comes to prices, the sky is the limit, it is right up Excel alley,

Twelve. Teaching aids. Yes, it is possible to list out questions for people, and upon answering the question (or once all questions have been answered), Excel will inform them whether or not the answer is correct. It could even give them the correct answer if that is required. This is very useful for training companies or if you wish to set tests of any kind. I have done a quiz which is available for free download to illustrate this function, in the download section of our website.

Thirteen. Sales figures. This is another popular function as it also plays to Excel’s strengths. Inserting all of the sales figures as you go along, possibly even capturing the expenses too for smaller companies, but let’s stick to sales figures here because we like them more! Once they are captured, you could have various other information like, which salesman was responsible or what category of product or what mark up, the options are up to you. Once you have this data, Excel can do just about anything with it, who has sold what, determine the average mark up, which month was the best, with graphs and charts to show whatever you wish to know! This can be taken one step further and each salesperson’s figures can be extracted and the sales commission can be worked out, no more fiddling with a calculator!

Fourteen. Quotes. People spend so much time doing quotes and some of it is unnecessary. If your business is bespoke and each quote is completely different to the others, then it is a bit more tricky, but if you are working from a price list, it can be very easy. Let’s say you are selling carpets by the square meter, you could type in how many square meters, select the carpet type, and the price will work out automatically from the price list (see point eleven) which you have done already! There will be no more silly errors where you work it out incorrectly and undercharge. If you have labour charges or anything else like that, these can also be programmed in and be accounted for, it is all up to you.

Fifteen. Income and Expenses. I know most people hand a huge pile of papers over to their accountant at the end of the financial year and make it their problem, but wouldn’t you like to know certain information as you go along. Most large companies will use accounting software, but smaller companies usually don’t, so this can be a good alternative. You could have a simple debit and credit sheet with some details and categories, which you fill in as you spend or earn. This means that at any stage you can see each individual category (e.g. sales income, marketing, office supplies, etc.) and how much you have spent or earned. This could also translate into monthly or annual reports and statements which will be very useful to you. It is also possible to keep track of a (rough) tax amount, so there are no surprises when you come to the end of the quarter or year and get the VAT or Income tax bill. These documents can also be passed onto your accountant, they may even appreciate the organisation!

I hope that you have a better understanding of what Excel can do. I have written about these 15 problems because I have come across them and personally solved them all. You may have another issue which I have not mentioned, and I would love to have the chance to see if I can solve them (with the help of Excel). I started Spreadsheet Solutions because I love Excel, helping companies and a good challenge! As you can see above, most of these points are solvable, but it is far more comprehensive if they are all done in Excel. One ‘package’ to combine everything, just like bespoke programmed business software, only more cost effective!

Have a look at our free download section for some free Excel software, or some PDF brochures for some software already created.

Thanks for reading.

Richard Sumner

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