Angela Ella March 23, 2021 Spreadsheet
The need for new and/or different systems to support a company‘s growth is not avoidable. Just plan to address them before the pain at each juncture is so great that your people start leaving for a company that has better, more efficient systems in place. When you do start this planning phase, be sure to use experts that are not tied to a particular solution. You know the old saying... When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In the past, the easiest way to share a small database was to create a spreadsheet and email it to your collaborators. This time‐tested method has withstood more sophisticated competition for several reasons.
A further small complication might be if at the discretion of the small business owner additional information was required from the bookkeeping records to indicate the totals of the different types of products and services then additional columns could be incorporated to enter the net sales figures in these columns. There it is then, a simple list of sales invoices to satisfy the sales accounting requirements for a small business where a balance sheet is not required.
Third, building the right kinds of collaborative applications requires some skill and understanding how and what kinds of data are shared. How many people are going to be adding/changing records to your database? How many just want to do queries and reports? And how do you prevent conflicting updates? Finally, when you add the Web and Internet‐based access to the data, you have greatly increased the skill level required to create and manage your database. While there are some really good Internet‐facing database programs (Alpha Software, Filemaker, Quickbase from Intuit, and DabbleDb ‐ just to name a few that I know of), none of these are as easy to setup and manipulate as Trackvia.com, a service that has been out for the past year but recently gotten some much‐needed improvements.
Part of the fundamental financial analysis of any company, investment security, or business project entails the computation of cash flows. This is typically done in a cash flow template Excel spreadsheet which is pre‐built for the purpose. The reason for this is that this type of template is not a simple calculator you build on the fly with little effort. It requires a lot of thinking, organizing the spreadsheets and formulas, and some planning about how to model cash in and cash out for each potential investment. In other words, there is no cookie cutter approach because each potential investment has different profit and loss drivers.
The second wall that hinders a small company‘s growth is similar but another rung up the ladder. The system that supported five people is starting to break down under the strain of 30 people. A new type of thinking must be applied to streamline the company‘s operations and automate them ‐ again. This time, the system will be larger, will take longer to design (or purchase), and cause more of a disruption in company operations when it is implemented. What happens internally when a system no longer meets the needs of the busy employees? They start creating workarounds to get their job done... and often their solutions involve spreadsheets. And so, the spreadsheet culture is reborn and the cycle begins again.
The fourth component to look for in a real estate investment spreadsheet is the ability to input growth rates. Instead of manually keying in different numbers, say for utility costs or rental rates, simply changing a periodic growth rate is much faster and easier. Most good investment models will allow the user to change the important input factors via growth rate variables. This substantially reduces the time to analyze different scenarios and allows the spreadsheet model to be semi‐automated.