Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
For a lot of you, spreadsheets probably bring back terrible memories of slogging through Microsoft Excel in your first job or 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]??”
Prefer to listen instead of read? Scroll to the bottom for the audio version of this post!
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 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, friend. Spreadsheets have plenty of bells and whistles of their own.
While I acknowledge there’s a bit of a learning curve, even using some of the basic formulas and functions available can transform a spreadsheet from a bunch of rows and columns with numbers into a document that gives you a ton of valuable information about your business that can, in turn, help it grow in ways you may have never thought possible.
Considering the fact that spreadsheets are the favorite tool of accountants and analysts, this one should come as no surprise.
Thanks to the rows, columns, functions, and formulas available, using spreadsheets to track virtually any kind of data about your business is pretty much a no-brainer.
You can use a spreadsheet to track data related to customers or clients, sales seasons, buying patterns, repeat customers, website traffic, booking rate, and more.
Next to tracking and analyzing data as a whole, perhaps the most common use of spreadsheets is to track financial data and, friend, let me tell you, the options for this kind of thing are practically endless.
From an efficiency perspective, using other tools to track actual transactions, produce profit & loss reports, or invoice your clients is generally the better route to go, but when it comes to tracking a whole slew of other financial data… spreadsheets are the bomb dot com.
Because of all the formulas and calculation-based functions available in a spreadsheet, using them to help make numbers less of a headache is pretty much a no-brainer.
You can use a spreadsheet to map out your sales goal, broken down by things like overhead, salary, taxes, profit, and product cost. You can then break down that sales goal into a revenue plan, map out income projections, and create a spending plan… all without having to do math!
Spreadsheets are also great for pricing calculations, conducting a break-even analysis, or financial forecasting. Basically, if it’s related to the finances of your business, a spreadsheet can almost definitely help make it less of a headache.
We already talked about general data a little bit, but let’s dig into the people-related data a bit more.
While your CRM may have certain features that allow you to track things like referral source and which services are bringing in the most revenue, a spreadsheet allows you to track that and more… and you can customize the data that’s important to you!
You can track additional things like the month you get the most inquiries, bookings, or sales, on average how long it takes someone to go from inquiry to booking, or where you lose the most leads in the booking process. You can also dive deeper into information your CRM already gives you like what referral sources lead to the most converting leads or the most frequently inquired package or service vs. the most frequently booked package or service.
Having all this information at your fingertips allows you to make more informed decisions about what changes in your business are best for you and your clients or customers!
I won’t lie, Google Analytics is an amazing tool and it obviously has capabilities a spreadsheet doesn’t. But a spreadsheet gives you the ability to take all of that data Google Analytics gives you and do things with it!
You can look at website traffic and data right alongside the growth of things like your social media followings, newsletter subscribers, and more. This allows you to see how all of your individual channels are performing in comparison to each other, once again giving you more information to help you make more informed decisions for your business!
This is actually an idea I originally got from the amazing business coach, Ashley Gartland.
If you struggle with keeping up with former clients, warm leads, collaborators, or just other creatives, a spreadsheet is a fantastic solution!
It can help you categorize different people based on your relationship with them, keep their contact info, notes about your original connection point, your last point of contact, your intentions for your next steps with them, and anything else you want to keep track of!
If you make checking in with the spreadsheet part of some weekly or monthly routine, you’ll find it so much easier to keep up with those connections, collaborations, and the like on a regular basis!
I’m obviously a big proponent of effective time management and spending your time well, in life and in business.
I recommend using a tool like Toggl to track your time on a day-to-day basis, but a spreadsheet is a great way to pull that information and look at patterns and the like over longer periods of time.
And in the same way you can use a spreadsheet to budget your money, it’s also a great way to create a plan or budget for how you want to spend your time! After all, you’re less likely to waste money if you decide in advance how you want to spend it… why wouldn’t time be the same way?
When I got engaged last year, I knew I wanted to have all the information about our wedding in one place and where did I go? Surprise, surprise… spreadsheets.
I created a 15-tab spreadsheet that allowed me to keep track of every single piece of information about our wedding from our monthly to do list, vendor possibilities, and budget to the seating chart, guest list, and playlists for the reception. There’s even a day-of timeline color coordinated by location!
Whether you’re a wedding or event planner, or planning any other kind of big project or event for your life or business, a spreadsheet is a great way to keep the countless pieces of information organized and in one place!
It’s no secret around here that I’m a major fan of using Trello to manage my content, but would it surprise you to learn that my Editorial Calendar Trello board isn’t the master document for all things marketing related?
I use Trello to manage my blog and email content (aka the big stuff) as it’s going through the workflow, but a spreadsheet is actually my primary tool for planning out my marketing on the whole.
I use a template created by the amazing Megan Martin that makes it easy for me to track my blog, email, and YouTube content right alongside the plan for Pinterest, Instagram, and Instagram Stories, along with any other marketing platforms I may add to my business in the future.
I’m joking a little bit… but only a little bit.
These are just some of the many ways you can use spreadsheets in your business!
They’re also great for tracking vendor contacts (if you’re in the wedding industry), venues you’ve photographed or planned a wedding at, guests for a podcast or web show, or even something as simple as managing your to do list… and the list goes on and on. I even use a spreadsheet to deliver the after-action guide to my Systems Strategy Session clients!
When it comes down to it, spreadsheets are incredibly versatile and have the ability to tell you so much about your business.
While all the new tools with their bells and whistles may be pretty, for some things, there’s just nothing quite like a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. (And those can be super pretty too… I promise.)
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