Rene Angèle May 1, 2021 Spreadsheet
One of the topics I cover on my Advanced Excel courses is hardly ‘advanced‘ at all, but it is a very useful and popular technique with my students. It makes use of the OLE capability to create invoices by embedding Excel data. First you need to create an Excel spreadsheet and format it in an appropriate manner, keeping in mind that this will form the basic structure of your invoice and will eventually be seen by your clients. You don‘t include any Company contact details or logos in the spreadsheet though as these will be incorporated into the Word document. The next step is to lay out the invoice itself in a Word document, based upon your normal Company letterhead. Leave the main body of the document empty as this is where the Excel spreadsheet will be embedded. All you need in this master Word document is your usual Company branding and contact information.
Structured Query Language, often referred to as SQL, is a grammar of instructions that allows us to tell a relational database to add, modify or delete data. The key benefit, pardon the pun, of SQL is that it allows us to craft instructions relating large sets of data together. In this way SQL is the natural complement to the single cell and formula based interface of spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel. Imagine you had five hundred appointments from your business calendar laid out in a table. Each appointment might have a day, time, location and description. Now imagine you also had five hundred appointments from your partners business calendar, also each having a day, time, location and description.
As a set of general rules data is most useful when things like text fields hold only names as well as meaningful and validated codes, categories and classifications. Text notes and other free form text should be isolated to a dedicated notes field and thus separated from other numeric data. Numeric fields should hold only numeric values (numbers, dates, %‘s and in the correct quantum or magnitude with no text prefixes, suffixes, spaces, text elements or text notes present. You must also be careful that numeric data is not stored as text and it should be internally consistent in terms of the correct format so that it can be used in calculations or for comparison and queries. Finally, addresses should be separated out into multiple fields such as street address, town /suburb, state / province, postal code and country to allow for geographic analysis and mail outs if required. Fixing up a data set to meet these criteria is called data scrubbing, cleansing or massaging. This data cleansing process can be very time consuming even for an experienced Microsoft Excel user, database engineer, business analyst or computer programmer.
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.
Most planners are good at multi-tasking and have no problems designing a simple spreadsheet to handle a basic budget or designing a form to handle registration. So, you spend your time designing and stressing out. You end up with a variety of forms that each handle a specific need like registration, exhibits, food expenses and budget. The forms are not connected and do not work together. Hence, you end up having to do additional work merging the information from the various forms into your budget. Why do this when there is a Budget Spreadsheet for Meetings on the market that will tie your history, individual forms and budget together? It is so easy that all you have to do is enter the information. The spreadsheet does the rest.
You can go over your budget as often as you like. Some find it easier to enter amounts every day after they‘ve settled in for the day. Others will choose to go over it monthly. Going over it weekly is likely where most will settle though. Occasionally, we‘ll have a surplus or deficit at the end of the month. Perhaps you‘ve spent too much, or not spent all that you thought you would. Spending too much can be troublesome, but not spending as much as you thought can be a lot of fun. You may want to consider adding a budget field carryover in the income sheet and one called shortfall in the expenses sheet. If you spent too much, the amount that you overspent by becomes your budgeted amount for shortfall in your expenses sheet the next month. Didn‘t spend enough, and you put that amount in the carryover field in the income sheet. This will help you keep track of all your money as well as account for any shortfalls.