Afrodille Coline June 6, 2021 Spreadsheet
Lester P. Goodbinder had suffered another agonizing week in Pittsburgh. The semi-annual audit he conducted at the Bourgeois Ball Bearing Factory stretched into five 14-hour days examining electronic spreadsheets on an archaic computer system installed in the early ‘80s. The equipment churned so abysmally he cleverly joked to himself it was powered by lazy hamsters on treadmills. Not only that, the accounting software loaded on the system was an early version of ”Abacus,” and only slightly faster than a key-punch adding machine but considerably slower than a hand-held calculator.
When Microsoft Excel is used to manipulate, store and analyse data it can become extremely difficult to manage, let alone efficiently work to produce any meaningful insights. This is because with data sets large and small, the data must be meaningful, logical, structured, internally consistent and clean. This holds true regardless of whether the data has been imported into excel from another system or manually entered. In this computing age, most people know that for any data set to be useable it must first be relatively structured and clean. A spreadsheet and its table layout naturally encourages data to be somewhat structured, however ensuring data is clean is also difficult.
When presenting your business plan to an angel investor you must understand that they will be very interested in your spreadsheets and proformas, but you must also realize that it is typically an entrepreneurial optimistic approach, which causes problems with proformas. Therefore, you should have dueling spreadsheets; that is to say the spreadsheets, which take your best guess and double the time, double the expenses to compete with your optimistic approach. You should be able to present both of these to your Angel Investor; who chances are is a retired business person with a little bit of financial savvy.
If you wanted to make this spreadsheet into template, you would need to take two more steps. The first step would involve modifying the spreadsheet to display only the data that remains the same. If you are constantly changing certain cells, you would leave these cells formatted but blank. The last step involves saving this spreadsheet as a template. Once this is done, you would always have access to a clean spreadsheet that is formatted the way you want and ready for your modifications. Microsoft has hundreds of free templates available. You can also download templates that are already loaded in your version of Excel. They are typically located under the File/New or Office Button/New option. When downloading these business and personal templates, be sure to monitor the version of Office that the template applies to. They have templates available for all of the versions of the Office Suites.
Microsoft Excel is a phenomenally powerful calculator. You can create spreadsheets with 10,000 lines of data and calculate subtotals instantly. Indeed, if you change your data, any totals will get automatically updated. Arguably that‘s not too impressive. If we have quarterly revenues of $1m, and we secure another $20k, we can update our subtotal without summing revenues from scratch. So it‘s more impressive that Excel can do the same thing with statistical functions. If you‘ve ever plotted a chart on Excel, you may be aware that you can add a best fit line. These best fit lines are calculated using a method known as regression. Basically, you have to calculate the distance of every single point from the line, and minimise the sum. The maths is a little more sophisticated but the key point is that, every time you change the data, you need to perform the analysis all over again.
In a well-designed spreadsheet, any output can be calculated from the raw data. However, that‘s not always enough. Sometimes the output is fixed and the raw data is variable. Let‘s say you run an investment company and want to offer your clients a fixed return. An Excel expert could create a very complex model to calculate the likely return on investments over a fixed period. You could then calculate the internal rate of return being offered to clients. The problem is that you‘re not interested in the return offered to clients; that is, after all, fixed. Instead you‘re concerned with how much money you expect to draw from the investment fund, whilst still offering your investors a satisfactory return. If you have $1 and owe investors a quarter, you can calculate your profits using a simple formula.
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