No Time for Forecasting?

No time for Forecasting
No time for Forecasting?

I don’t have time to worry about forecasting or budgeting

I hear from a lot of business owners that they don’t have time for forecasting or to do budgets or forecasts. I get this, I’m a busy business owner too, but that’s foolish and short sighted. But, let me ask you this – do you have time to scramble on payday to make sure there’s enough in the bank? Do you have time to waste and deliberate when you’re making a big investment? Or would you rather have the financial information to make the best decision? Do you have time to hound your customers when you really need them to pay you because you haven’t kept on top of things to start with? Do you have time to recover from making a big financial commitment that you really couldn’t afford? Do you have time to waste because you didn’t make the investment you could afford? NO? I didn’t think so!

So this is why you need to be looking ahead in your business. Yes, it takes a little time, but it saves a lot more time plus the stress and uncertainty.

I’ll tell you how I fit it in – a little at a time. Yes, it takes some time to build the initial forecast, but once that’s done (and you can get help) maintaining it is not terribly time consuming. Personally I’ve picked Friday mornings to do my “admin” work, and part of that includes updating my forecast. If you look at it weekly, and keep it up to date, it’s not a big deal. It’s also available and valid when you do need it. When you do have that big business decision to make and you’d like some insight into your financials.

Try it. And then let me know how it works for you.

7 Top Tips to Avoid Excel Errors

5395284268_d4d99151f8_oErrors in Excel spreadsheets are very common. I make them too! We’ve been hearing more and more about how much it’s costing companies here, here, here, and here.

I’ve written about using purpose specific commercial software products here, but what if you just HAVE to use Excel? Well, today, I’m going to give you a few tips on avoiding the most common Excel errors.

Design / Build / Test

Just like ‘real’ software, an Excel spreadsheet will be better designed if you take some time to do some minimal design work up front. At least for a moment, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. The data you’ll need, the data you have, the formulas you need, etc. Thinking in advance will prevent you from building something that isn’t going to suit your purpose. Or isn’t going to do it easily.

Step by Step

One technique I particularly love it building the model step by step. This means you may have some extra columns. Here’s a very simple example. If I was building something to calculate (A + B) / 3, I’d create a column that was (A + B) and then another column that takes the result of that and divides by 3. You can always combine the formulas later (be sure to keep your step by step model and check the results along the way) or hide the intermediate calculations. See below for an example.

Avoid Errors with intermediate calculations
Make intermediate calculations in Excel

Row by Row

Build your model for one row of data first. Test it, proof it, and then, and only then copy it for all data. Test it again as your data varies, but start with one row to make things simpler.

Check your Totals

One error I see commonly (and have made more than once myself!) is forgetting to extend the totals at the bottom when new rows are added. Just double click on the total, to see the range of cells included. Check this after making any major edits or adding new data. This works for any formula – you can make sure you’re using the cells you expect, by double clicking.

Another Set of Eyes

The single best way to catch errors in your spread sheet (or even in your thought process) is to explain it to someone else. This means you need a willing victim – oops – I mean collaborator, but if you can find one that will go through all the details with you do it. And then buy them lunch!

Lock it up

Another very common cause of spreadsheet errors is overwriting formulas. Before you share your spreadsheet (and even if you don’t) protect the calculated cells. It’s also a good idea to provide a visual indicator of either areas where users can and should enter data and where they should not. This is relevant even if you’re the only one using the spreadsheet.

Use your sanity

If a result seems surprising, or unexpected, question it. That’s probably good advice in any circumstance, but especially here. If you can, try to make the calculation by hand and make sure that unexpected result isn’t the result of an unexpected error.

With these tips, you’ll be much less likely to make a big Excel error, but still – be careful! And please – share your favorite tip in the comments!

We Can’t All be Good at Everything

frustrated-at-work

“We can’t all be good at everything” is a phrase I have always heard people mention, but haven’t always related to. For example, I’ve always known that there were people that struggled with numbers and, more specifically, Excel. As a person that loves statistics and analysis, I didn’t feel like I could relate, until recently…

As a startup founder, I wear a lot of hats. As you can probably imagine, some of them fit better than others. Graphic designer is not a hat I wear particularly well. In fact, it’s one of the tasks I almost always hire someone to do.

Recently, I had to make a minor change to the text in one of my images. I thought briefly about giving this to my designer, but quickly talked myself out of it. I asked myself, “How hard can it possibly be?” before letting myself know that “you’ve got this.”

I opened the image in my editing program, and immediately felt my shoulders tightening and my stomach churning as I scanned the overwhelming list of menu selections trying to figure out how to change the text. I had a few false starts, painted my image black, fumbled around for a few minutes more before I finally let out a curse, closed the file, and called my designer.

So for all of you that cringe at the thought of doing anything in Excel – I feel your pain. And, can anyone help me change some text?  🙂

Do you have time to make good business decisions?

You’re busy running your business.

You want to make smart business decisions.

You know there are helpful tools available, but who has time to think about it all and enter the data?

WE DO!!

GrowthCast has added a full-service option to our amazing cash flow predictor.

Cash is possibly the most critical aspect of your business.

If you’d like to get all the benefits of having a clear financial forecast and visibility into your future but don’t know where to start, or if you’re uncomfortable with your financials – call us. We’ll arm you with the information you need to make smart business decisions.

For a flat fee that includes a one-year subscription to GrowthCast, we will work with you one one-on-one to get you started, at your place, our place or even online.

We will:

  • Build your custom forecast for you in our proprietary, easy to use software
  • Review your forecast and answer any questions you have
  • Walk you through our proprietary interview, identify your income, expenses, customers, projects, goals and initiatives for the coming year

If you’re going to the bank for a loan or line of credit, growing, moving, hiring, or starting a company, you need good visibility and insight into your financials.  Let us help you.

There are no more excuses. Now, there are three ways to get started using GrowthCast. Click here and choose the one that works best for you.

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When smart companies need to know if they can afford to invest in that new employee, equipment, marketing campaign or whatever, they don’t guess and hope they have the money to pay for it later. They check their cash flow then decide. Be smart, contact GrowthCast today.

We’ll do the work, you make the smart decisions.

Start today.  Book your appointment or find out more, contact us here.