My name is Sarah and I'm so glad you're here!
This blog is where you'll find all my best tips and tricks to organize, simplify, and streamline your business and life.
It probably comes as no surprise that I have a thing for spreadsheets.
I mean… it’s literally in my name. In fact, I got the idea for the business name because a friend once asked me, quite seriously, whether or not spreadsheets are my love language.
While that’s not actually true, even though I’m a creative at heart, I can get rather giddy over a beautifully designed spreadsheet — a trait I think I gained from my dad, who builds spreadsheets of epic proportions. (Seriously. They’re amazing.)
For a lot of you, spreadsheets probably bring back terrible memories of slogging through Microsoft Excel in your first job or in a class in school trying to figure out where on earth you messed up that formula to give you the dreaded #REF! or #VALUE error, so they’re likely not the first thing you think of when it comes to organizing or managing your business.
In fact, with so many incredible tools at our disposal now for project and client management, organization, and tracking, spreadsheets may even seem primitive and you might be thinking, “Why on earth would someone use a spreadsheet when they could use [insert your favorite tool here]??”
The truth is, while they may not appear to have all sorts of fancy bells and whistles, spreadsheets are an incredible tool that you can use in all sorts of ways to help manage your business.
It’s no secret that I love my tools like Dubsado and Trello, but for certain things, spreadsheets take the cake. Hidden inside those little blank cells are so many different tools and tricks that can help you organize and process information about your business. Trust me, y’all, spreadsheets have plenty of bells and whistles of their own.
Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but even learning some simple formulas can give a spreadsheet the power to give you a ton of valuable information about your business that will in turn help it grow in ways you may have never thought possible.
Sure, you’ve got a CRM like Dubsado that helps you know when new leads come in, respond to them in a timely manner, manage communication during the booking/inquiry process, and overall help give your clients an incredible experience.
All of that is phenomenal info to have… but what if you could learn more?
What if you could easily tell where the highest percentage of your leads come from, or where the highest percentage of leads that convert come from? What about the month you get the most inquiries, bookings, or sales? The number of inquiries that turn into sales or clients? How long it takes for someone to go from inquiry to booking? Or where in the inquiry process do you lose the highest number of leads?
That’s right. A spreadsheet can tell you all of that information. And you can even set it up to do it almost automatically!!
Once you’ve got the spreadsheet built, you can use an automation tool like Zapier to create a new entry for every inquiry that comes in and have it automatically fill the spreadsheet with different pieces of information that get filled out in your lead inquiry form.
By creating graphs and charts, you can pop into your spreadsheet once a month (on a monthly duty day, perhaps?), add any additional data that can’t be pulled from your lead inquiry form, and easily see where you should be focusing your energy to bring in more leads that convert!
Similar to tracking super valuable information about your leads and inquiries, you can also use a spreadsheet to track information about your booked clients.
What’s your most common price point? What packages, services, or products are you booking and selling the most of (in comparison to what people inquire about)? How far in advance are your project slots for the year filling up? And how does all of this affect your annual revenue?
In addition to the information you track during the lead inquiry process, having the additional information about the inquiries that turn into actual paying customers and clients can be immensely helpful when you’re trying to decide next steps in your business.
Instead of guessing which products, packages, or services you sell the most of, you’ll have the information first hand. Having an easy comparison between the types of services or products people inquire about in comparison to the services and products they book or purchase can give you valuable information about education to provide for your clients and how to guide them throughout the inquiry process as well.
Depending on the type of business you run, there may be additional information you need or want to track after a client goes through the inquiry and booking process. Or you may have another project like a podcast or an event that you manage.
Maybe you’re a wedding photographer who wants to track all your events for the year including pieces of information like the state they’re in, the vendor’s contact info, and other aspects of your workflow like submissions.
For something like a podcast or some other project where you reach out to guests on a regular basis, you can not only track the potential guests and the things you’d like them to talk about, but their contact info, where they are in the contact process, and any additional notes that may be helpful.
While a CRM or project management software can track similar types of data for you, the advantage of using a spreadsheet is it allows you to easily see all of the information side by side and then take all of that side-by-side information and turn it into graphs and charts that make it easily digestible.
The last thing any of us want to do is spend hours and hours responding to the same questions over and over again. At the same time, we want to provide as much information and education to our clients and potential customers as possible — answering the questions they actually have instead of the questions we think they have.
A great way to figure out what those questions are? Track it in a spreadsheet!
Maybe you run a Facebook group and have a few questions that members have to answer before they join, or you regularly ask questions on your social media profiles or through your newsletter.
Tracking all of this information in a spreadsheet can help you easily figure out the commonalities. Similar to your lead and inquiry data, it can help you tell where the majority of your engaged followers and subscribers come from, the questions they’re asking the most, or their most frequent issues.
In turn, this data can help you determine new resources to create, or products and services to offer in order to address your audience’s actual pain points instead of imagined ones.
Perhaps the most common use of spreadsheets is to track financial data and, friends, let me tell you, the options for this kind of thing are practically endless.
From an efficiency perspective, I use tools like QuickBooks to track actual transactions, produce profit & loss reports, and budgeting, but when it comes to tracking a whole slew of other financial data… spreadsheets are the bomb dot com.
INCOME BREAKDOWN & PROJECTIONS
Okay, so you have tools that will tell you how much you will be making based on the clients you’ve booked and how much money you’ve already made this year… but how about what to do with that income and how to project it out for a variety of hypothetical situations?
Thanks to the power of formulas, you can put information into a single cell and immediately know how much you need to be putting aside for overhead, tax savings, salary, and any other allocations with your general budget. You can pop in different values and project out what your monthly and annual gross and net income would be if you raised you prices, introduced a new service, or increased the number of projects you take on.
This is, without a doubt, the financial spreadsheet I refer back to the most. It’s helped me figure out how much I have to bring in to reach certain goals and play around with the various options for reaching those income goals.
On top of that, it makes it super simple to tell how I need to adjust my allocations for taxes, salary, and the like from month-to-month as much income ebbs and flows, which saves me a ton of time and headache, both on a monthly basis, and on a quarterly basis when it’s time to pay those estimated taxes!
You wanna know the best way to avoid money-related stress when it comes to your business spending? A budget.
Depending on your history with finances, the word “budget” may sound scary or constricting, so to help avoid those feelings, how about we pull a Shanna Skidmore and call it a spending plan instead, alright?
Whether you call it a budget, a spending plan, or something completely different, you’re basically just telling your money where you want it to go. This is super helpful from a personal perspective and it’s super helpful from a business perspective, too.
Creating a spending plan for your business allows you to plan in advance for that big conference you want to go to, the brand refresh you want to invest in, the software or technology you want to use to streamline your business, and more.
While I actually use the tool EveryDollar to track my month-to-month spending and see how it’s lining up with my spending plan, I always create spending plans and budgets in a spreadsheet first because, thanks to those fabulous formulas, you’re easily able to plan your spending on a zero-based budget system (that means every dollar is accounted for) and figure out how things like annual fees divide out on a monthly basis, so you can plan for those too.
If you want to operate a debt free business (which I highly recommend), you have to create a spending plan that deals with your money as is. As a result, a spending plan is designed to deal with the money you actually have, but financial forecasting allows you to create a plan for the money you could have.
Think back to those income projections you started playing with a couple of spreadsheets ago. If your income looked like that, how would that affect the spending in your business? That is what financial forecasting is all about.
Effectively, you’re creating your ideal spending plan and answering the question, “If my income was at X level, what would that allow me to do with my business on a financial level?”
For the same reasons spreadsheets are great for creating spending plans, they’re great for creating financial forecasts. And because you’re able to have multiple sheets (or tabs) within an individual spreadsheet, you can create financial forecasts for all sorts of different income levels!
Pricing is, without a doubt, one of my least favorite aspects of running a business. Honestly, if it was possible to just run a business on words of encouragement and virtual hugs, I would totally do it, but alas, we live in an economy where dollar bills are necessary to survive.
When it comes to pricing anything, you want to make sure you’re doing so in a way that leads to a sustainable and profitable business. But how do you figure that out? You guessed it… spreadsheets!
Using those fabulous formulas, you can create a spreadsheet that allows you to input the costs associated with any project or service, plus the price, and see how much money you’ll actually make from it, which in turn helps you see how you should be setting your pricing in order to create a sustainable and profitable business.
Beyond just pricing for your regular products and services, you can also use formulas to figure out things like your spending budget for a particular project or to do a break-even analysis (ie. how many you would need to sell to break even) for a big event like a conference.
As you can see, the amount of information spreadsheets can give you about your business can be absolutely invaluable. While all the new tools with their bells and whistle may be pretty, there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. (And those can be super pretty too… I promise.)