When running any type of business it’s important to keep track of all the moving pieces. You need to document sales, taxes, company expenses, and much more. It can be hard to stay on top of, so thank goodness we have programs like Excel to keep us organized. To the untrained eye, Excel can look very intimidating and confusing. As someone who has taken multiple classes online and in school about Excel, all I can say is that it’s worth all the frustration.
Even though I have taken a couple classes, I still don’t know everything. Luckily there are plenty of videos on YouTube that can teach, or refresh your memory, about basic and advanced functions.
Today I am going to talk about some great basic functions that can benefit you as a business owner. These helps are pretty basic but can make the program much easier to use, and not so intimidating. By using Excel on a daily or weekly basis, you’ll master a lot of these skills and techniques soon enough.
If you are completely new to Excel then I recommend you take this 1 hour free class from Skillshare. It will go over the basics and how Excel works. You can start it here.
The first thing I want to go over is one of the more basic computer skills that you can develop. I can’t begin to tell you how many people don’t know basic keyboard shortcuts. I watch people use the mouse to find computer commands; hotkey shortcuts can save them so much time! You can find a long comprehensive list of computer shortcuts here.
I listed some of the more basic helpful ones below (for PC users):
CTRL + C = Copy
CTRL + V = Paste
CTRL + X = Cut
CTRL + Z = Undo (This is the most helpful shortcut ever!)
CTRL + F = Find
CTRL + S = Save
You can also use the “Tab” key to move around from cell to cell easier.
By getting into the habit of using the most basic shortcuts you are saving yourself hours of work. This can help you become more efficient and quicker at your job. Plus, you don’t want your coworkers or kids seeing that you right click to copy and paste, they might poke fun at you.
Have you ever seen an Excel sheet or document from others that looks so pretty and organized? Remarkably, a lot of the time those spreadsheets don’t take as long to organize as you’d think. In fact a lot of people use ready-made templates from Excel, or other places online.
If you can’t find a good template to use, then you can always start building your own tables and format them just the way you want. Here is a great video that will go over the basics of table formatting, and help you feel confident in building them on your own.
Now, formulas can be one of the hardest things to get down in Excel. Lucky for you a lot of people have built resources to help you use formulas. The importance of knowing how to use certain formulas can go a long way. You can make expense reports in a blink of the eye, and you can also do things like sales reports or forecasting.
Once you start learning how to do basic formulas, Excel is going to seem like the easiest and coolest thing for your business. Here is a great cheat sheet that goes over some of the more basic, yet important formulas.
Charts are probably my favorite thing to create in Excel. I use them for so many things in life, and always try to sneak it in anywhere. From budgets, spending reports, diets, and vacation planning, you can use charts for nearly anything. They are also a great way to impress others and potential partners.
By implementing good and useful charts you can literally make your own business intelligence hub for yourself. This can help you track traffic, sales, and repeat customers from your business. By understanding your own business and data better, you’ll be able to see where you are falling short and what needs to be addressed for success. Once you become more comfortable with Excel I highly recommend using this article to help build your own business intelligence dashboard.
If you need help getting started on charts then here is a great short video to get you on your way.
Using Pivot Tables
I’ve been talking about how much time you can save using Excel, and I have saved one of the biggest time savers for last. Pivot tables are one of the most powerful functions you can use in Excel for an ecommerce business.
With pivot tables you can extract specific data from a large set of data. So say you have a year's worth of expenses in one document. You can create a pivot table to sort out what you want to see. You could pull all the home and garden sales, and separate them from all your electronic items sold.
You can only take advantage of pivot tables when you learn how to create and organize a spreadsheet using tables, formulas, charts, and keyboard shortcuts. Learning the previous topics will aid you in creating pivot tables that can help you run your store more cleanly.
Here’s a video that can help you understand and learn how to create your own pivot table.
Of course there are many other functions I didn’t talk about in this blog post. Once you feel comfortable with your Excel skills make sure you expand your knowledge of the program, and see what other great features will build up your store.
I shared a link earlier for a 1 hour class on Excel. If you’re feeling like you want more training you can check out these list of Excel classes taught by universities. Most of them are free and only charge if you want a certificate.