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Comedian Tim Clue's Interesting Personal Finance Strategy


Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:40am

Check out this video from funny-man Tim Clue talking about his interesting approach to handling debt. 

 

 

 

Sell | Share | Download Spreadsheets at Excelville.com


Microfinancing Success Story - Brooklyn Taco Company


Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:33am

Microlending is a rapidly growing trend that is helping lower income and poor people get access to credit to start nad maintain businesses. According to an article in the New York Times earller this month, a $7,000 loan could create as much as 2 and a half jobs, which shows the efficiency of how the loans are being applied. The article also states that borrowers of microloans are a lot more reliable than borrowers are with bank loans - something to the effect of being over 20% more reliable. All this is great news for people who don't have access to traditional credit and for people looking for a low-risk way to invest some extra cash.

Check out the full article in the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/nyregion/microlender-accion-extends-a-lifeline-to-small-businesses.html?_r=2

 

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Excelville.com's Revolutionary Affiliate Program


Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:24am

Excelville.com's affiliate marketing program is so revolutionary that it makes it possible for anyone with access to the internet to make money online. This includes anyone with an email, facebook, twitter, or any other service that let's you input text. And yes, you can even make money through a text message using Excelville.com's affiliate program. Here's how it works:

When you create an account (any account) with Excelville.com, the site assigns you an ID number. You can find a spreadsheet on the site (any spreadsheet, search results, category of spreadsheets, etc...) and click the Embed button Embed search results associated with that file or group of files. Keep in mind that these are spreadsheets that your friends, family, co-workers and associates could find very useful. You'll be taken to the affiliate page where you can select how many spreadsheets you want to show in this embed code - you can select between 1 and 10 files in the listing. Then all you have to do is copy and paste the embed code (which includes your ID) anywhere you want in the world. You'll need to be logged into the site for your ID to be automatically included in the embed code.  When people enter Excelville.com through your embedding or link and make a purchase, you get credit for and receive a 8%* commission for the sale**.

Here are some ideas for how you and everyone else you know can take advantage of this service:

  • Paste the embed code on your website or internet pages
  • Paste the embed code in an email and send it to anyone or everyone. As long as they enter the site through your embedding or link**, you get the credit for the resulting sale.
  • Paste the embed code in a twitter post
  • Paste the embed code in a facebook status update
  • Paste the embed code in a Linked In or any other social networking post (I think you get the point with the social networks)
  • Post the embed code/link in a comments space on an article or community discussion
  • Send someone or everyone the link in a text message
  • Write someone a post-it note with your embed link and have them key it into the address bar in their browser
  • Any other creative means you can use to get people to enter the site through your embed code or link.

After the deed is done, you can just sit back and watch the system work - for you. Each month, the site pays sellers and affiliate partners via paypal. For simplicity, it make sense to use your Paypal email address (if you have one)  to register with Excelville.com.

 

 

Sell | Share | Download Spreadsheets @ Excelville.com 

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* Rates are subject to change at Excelville.com's disgression

** The site only has a 5 day memory for your referral. If the purchase is made after 5 days of clicking your link or embedding, you will not be credited for the sale.


Video - A Better Way to Make a Living - KickStart


Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:17am

Check out this video from KickStart - its a great example of how the effective application of resources can work in multiples in the fight against poverty.

 

 

 

Sell | Share | Download Spreadsheets @ Excelville.com

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Hilarious Spreadsheet Video!


Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:09am
My wife finds this hilarious as well..and I think I know why. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8UedbIn-t8?rel=0] I'm surprised she sat there that long and listened to all that.
Great stuff. Keep it coming JBozeman.

 

 

Sell | Share | Download Spreadsheets at Excelville.com

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Agriculture: A Battle Against Hunger - TechnoServe


Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:01am

Check out this video from TechnoServe and ABN Digital discussing how agriculture techniques such as irrigation is yielding tremendous production on South African farms. This is a great example of how a little support could go a long way.  

http://www.excelville.com/embed?source=search&size=468x60&qty=10&data=grocery&cat=&affid=

   

Sell | Share | Download Spreadsheets @ Excelville.com

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New Feature - Chat with Built in Project Contracting Functionality


Posted on November 22, 2014 at 2:59pm

Now buyers can simply initiate the contracting process and hire consultants from within a chat conversation window. All the buyer would need to do is begin chat conversation with a consultant and within the chat window, click the "Hire Me" button to begin the contracting process. A dialog will open, which facilitates the following process:

  1. Buyer enters the appropriate contact information, project scope, timeline, key deliverables etc...
  2. Consultant is asked to agree to terms and input pricing information
  3. Buyer accepts or negotiates on prices / terms of agreement. If the consultant negotiates, the buyer is given the opportunity to agree or negotiate. Once both parties agree without negotiation, the process moves forward.
  4. The buyer enters payment information
  5. The consultant executes the work
  6. The buyer reviews the work for quality, rates the consultant, and releases funds (or requests a refund, which is investigated by Excelville team and handled accordingly)
  7. The consultant is paid based on the following commissions: 4-bars (95% of project price), 3-bars (85% of project price), Less than 3 bars (70% of project price)

This model encourages the following benefits:

  • Secured payment from buyers before work begins
  • Quality delivery of work from sellers before funds are released
  • Consultants are compensated based on customer satisfaction: better quality = higher commission
  • Buyers must leave rating / feedback in order to release funds and close out project (reviews can be used by consultants to secure future work)

Feel free to reach out to us at Excelville Admin if you have questions on this service.

Best Regards,

Excelville Admin


New Feature on Excelville! - Internal Messaging


Posted on October 12, 2014 at 10:04pm

Now you can keep in better contact with your clients, customers, and associates on Excelville.com with the new Internal Messaging service. Its free and easy to use for anyone with an Excelville.com account.

You can access internal messaging from several places on the site:

- Click the \"Check Messages\" link from your user ribbon on the bottom of the page

- Click the \"Send Me a Message\" button located on search results pages for intelectual capital/spreadsheets, consultants, case studies, blog posts, etc...

- Click the \"Check Messages\" link from your user menu in your dashboard

Keep track of individual messages or entire conversations with this convenient new feature. 

Please take a moment to explore this new service and let us know if you have any questions.

Best Regards,

Excelville Admin


What Exactly Are You Downloading?


Posted on March 11, 2011 at 4:10am

How many personal computers have you gone through in the past 10 years? Why did they fail? You ever wonder in the back of your mind what you´re actually putting on your computer when you hit the download button? With all the crazy stuff out there that people are putting out there on the internet, how do you know for sure that you can trust any website that comes up in a Google search? Nowadays some websites can send you a virus just for clicking a link on their page, let alone one that requires you to download something. Are these one-off websites reputable and trustworthy? Can they give you any type of assurances that when they ask you to download their free spreadsheet, you´re actually going to get a free spreadsheet and no surprizes like trojans or spyware, which can expose you to identity theft. This is the advantage to using a site like Excelville.com to get your spreadsheet downloads because the site only allow certain filetypes to be uploaded in the first place (no executable files that can launch viruses). This protects the person downloading it and prevents the manipulative tactics that have been used to put destructive viruses and other malware on people´s computers. This makes Excelville.com a much safer alternative for downloading spreadsheets. Fortunately  the site´s selection is growing daily because it allows skilled spreadsheet developers from all disciplines to create profiles and provide spreadsheets; some for free, some for sale. Check it out for your self and you be the judge.

Sell, share, and download spreadsheets at Excelville.com

Find and share spreadsheet ideas at the Srpeadsheet Café


5 Steps for Turning Analysis into Action


Posted on February 19, 2011 at 10:18am

As humans, we love to analyze things. Analysis always begins with my 2 year old son's favorite word: Why? And its a damn good question to ask. But why do you ask? Why do you need to know? I suppose you could look at analysis as the process of discoving new knowledge...new to you at least. Many people are really good at analyzing things. What they do with the new information is what separates those who excel from those who do not. This article will give you an approach for turning the information discovered through analysis into results for your business or personal life.

Step 1: Get to the root of the issue. Many people scratch the surface of an issue, make a few assumptions, and then choose to live with the first few thoughts that come to their minds. Why not dig deeper? Get complete and holistic data. Then use a systematic way of processing the data into useful information. In some cases, going with your gut is absolutely necessary, but in most cases, its not. There are tools and resources abound that can help you become a more effective analyst such as spreadsheet templates, software, and a whole industry of professional analysts.

Step 2: Create a list of potential solutions that could help address the issue at hand. The more minds you can employ in creating ideas, the greater solutions will arise. You can use brainstorming, an idea drop box, or research to help you generate your list. I've found that smaller groups between 4 and 7 people are best for a really creative brainstorming session, especially when there are no "idea killers" in the group. A brainstorm session should begin with a rule that no idea is a bad idea, because every idea has a component of greatness. If you can extract those components and mold them into something workable, you may have the answer, even if its from the most unlikely source.

Step 3: Narrow down your list of potential solutions to 1 or a combination of solutions. There are several ways to do this. One way is to pull everyone into a room, give them a fixed number of votes, and go down the list and allow people to vote. Even better, conduct a blind vote so people can't influence each other.

Another way to narrow down your list is to use a spreadsheet that allows you to allocate a score for each idea based on thier impact to each individual value in the organization. For example: Your organization might value safety with a weight of 9, quality with a weight of 6, and cost with a wieght of 3; then you would give each idea a score of 1 - 10 in each of these areas and then calculate the total score for each idea. The ideas with the highest score gets the most consideration for implementation.

Yet another way to select an idea is to let the boss choose. Can't go wrong with this one, no matter how wrong it is!

Step 4: After you've selected your winning idea or combination of ideas, its time to put it into action. Here is where you need to gather the resources needed to execute the idea and get it done. Hopefully you would have considered the resources necessary in the idea weed-out process. Create an execution plan using an action items list. Determine who will do what, by when, and how. Get together regularly, perhaps weekly to talk through where everyone is on their part of the project. Don't allow people to slack off or cut corners. Here is the greatest test of your leadership. Things like procrastination and low motivation can ruin things for everyone so work the crowd to drive results. Getting the support of more influential people in the organization can help you in this area.

Step 5: Provide visible tracking systems so that everyone can see how the plan is progressing and the results of the new idea. People love to see a plan come together, especially one where they helped decide what would be done and worked to make it happen. This completes the circle; start with analysis of a problem, then finish with analysis of a solution; and trust me, the latter just feels better, especially when its working.

Don't allow yourself or the people around you to get analysis paralysis. Use these simple, yet effective steps to turn Analysis into Action! This approach also builds a culture of teamwork and working together to solve problems. All you have to do is facilitate the process and you'll be viewed as the leader...rightfully so!


How to Make Money with Google Docs Spreadsheets


Posted on February 19, 2011 at 10:11am

Google Docs Spreadsheets is an exciting new platform that allows calculating, formatting, and even translating using spreadsheets. Perhaps the most attractive feature of Google Docs is the ability to share spreadsheets with anyone or an exclusive few people online using cloud technology. Cloud technology isn't excactly new but is now becoming one of the buzzwords in the technology world. This is because all computer functions are done remotely which eliminates the need for a dedicated server to perform those storage and computing functions. These remote servers/computers can store files and perform any of the functions that your personal computer can do. This is what allows you to build, view, and manipulate spreadsheets using Google Docs Spreadsheet Technology. It is also what allows people that you invite to be able to access the spreadsheet and view and make changes real time from anywhere in the world. Although Google Docs Spreadsheet has nowhere near the level of sophistocation of competing spreadsheet applications such as Microsof Excel, it has made significant strides to improve in functionality and usability.

Will Google Docs Spreadsheets ever be a real contender against Microsoft Excel?

Google Docs Spreadsheets has a few distinct advantages against Microsoft Excel. First of all, its internet-based, which adds its own set of advantages and disadvanteges. Second, its a Google product, therefore it has a surplus of supporting products and services to leverage and grow with. However, Google Docs Spreadsheets is just a baby in terms of development compared to Microsoft Excel. Excel has saturated the world and people are reluctant to change away from something that has worked so well for them for so long. The other thing that Excel has going for it is that it can always find a way to leverage cloud technology, almost eliminating a huge part of Google Docs Spreadsheet's competitive advantage. In fact, Excel can already be used in a web-based format so its already not far off, and maybe already there.

So back to the question: How do you make money with Google Docs Spreadsheets?

The answer lies in the fact that spreadsheets, expecially when you get to higher degrees of functionality, will always be better built by skilled spreadsheet developers. The average person with limited spreadsheet development skills will never be able to make a more robust and user-friendly spreadsheet than someone who knows what they are doing and has the talent to build great spreadsheets. Paying for and using a great spreadsheet is more economical than wasting time using an ameteur designed spreadsheet, especially when it is used frequently (depending on the price of course). Even for a function as simple as grocery shopping, a well-built spreadsheet is more helpful and this more economical than a poorly built spreadsheet (or not having one at all).

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Here's what you do to make money...you must be a skilled spreadsheet developer to begin with. If you're not, you should work to develop your skills well beyond the average consumer. Identify a market need and develop spreadsheets around those needs. Use any spreadsheet program that Google Docs Spreadsheets can open and build your spreadsheet and upload it to Excelville.com. In the file title, description, or keywords, mention that the file is compatible with Google Docs Spreadsheets. Price the spreadsheet accordingly and start earning. None of this costs you anything. You can also include eye-catching screenshots and an engaging demonstration video. If you can sell one spreadsheet for $2 in every country in the world, you would make a fortune.  

Happy Selling!


Six Steps for Using Data to Excel


Posted on February 11, 2011 at 9:01am

 

A Lesson from Six Sigma DMAIC Methodology and Continuous Improvement

 

You’d be surprised how so many people have learned to talk about and preach the need for data, data, and more data. You’d also be surprised how so many people have no idea for what to do with all this data that they can’t live without. All of the weekly reports, in depth analysis, and strategy meetings mean nothing if you don’t follow these fundamental guidelines to managing and using data to improve performance.

Step 1: Define the right problem. Its amazing how people jump right from symptom to solution without having the slightest idea for what the real underlying problem is. Defining the right problem is key because it leads you to gather the right data. Contrary to what many believe, all data is not created equal; and the data you will need to place the most value is the specific data related to your specific issue.

Step 2: Measure your process. It’s the only way to know the real impact of the issue that you have defined in step 1. Observe the process with your own eyes for an extended period of time. Collect data over an extended period of time. Conduct surveys - ask the people closest to the issue what they have observed. Take samples that adequately represent the population of outcomes. These things collectively make up the best data you can possibly get. Above all, see it with your own eyes; nothing makes an issue register in your own mind like seeing it first hand.

Step 3: Analyze the Situation. Here you use the data and all other information that you can gather to identify the root causes of the issue. The most popular forms of root cause analysis are Fishbone, Pareto, and 5Why Analysis. Use the one or combination most appropriate for your issue. Most often, the order of use is first Pareto, then Fishbone, then 5 Why. This is because Pareto gives the broadest level and 5 Why gives the most detailed level of information.

Step 4: Improve the Situation. This is the step after the root causes have been identified where you create potential solutions. These solutions can come from a variety of different sources such as brainstorm sessions, suggestion boxes, or from research or benchmarking. Whichever method of coming up with ideas that you use, you’ll need a process of weeding out the bad ideas and deciding on which ones to implement. This can be done in a variety of ways as well including voting, setting up a spreadsheet that allows you to score ideas against the organization’s values, or perhaps some form of collective bargaining. Then you need to pull your resources and implement. Up until now, you haven’t had the need to spend money or any other measurable resources. Perhaps your ideas don't require any expenditures, and if so, you’re very lucky. It is important that you have the resources on hand to start implementing at this phase, especially if you have other people involved, who are very likely excited to see all these new ideas get implemented and would rather not wait. Trust me on this one; it can be a tricky one.

Step 5: Put Controls in Place. Once you’ve successfully implemented the changes, often you see the most dramatic results at first. Then the results taper off as you approach the fine-tuning phase of the process. Here is where you need to be the most careful about backsliding to the old ways of doing things. This is done by putting the right controls in place to help ensure that the new behavior “sticks”. Some examples of controls are check-sheets, after action review meetings (discuss what went well, what didn’t go well, and what will be done next). Have regular meetings to discuss and follow up on further areas for improvement.

Step 6: Celebrate. Now, its time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Change is difficult and you’ve earned it. Spoil yourself and your team after a job well done. This process can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months and its not easy, especially the first few times around. Here’s time for a pizza party, gift cards, or dinner on the organization for all the participants. Or depending on the size of the project, you might want to go above and beyond and give everyone trips to Hawaii. You might want to check your bank account and make sure the earnings are solid before you do anything rash.

These simple yet effective steps will make you excel time and time again. They are as easy or difficult as you make them. If you’re persistent, your team is accountable, and you’ve set the appropriate resources aside for the project to be successful, you will win. However, if you jump ahead in steps, ignore the data, or just use the wrong data from the start, your chances for success are slim. Its totally up to you.

Good Luck,


Download Quality Excel Templates


Posted on February 9, 2011 at 7:10pm

If you're looking to download or sell quality Excel templates, the best website to use is Excelville.com. Exceville is a marketplace that offers spreadsheets in all of the following categories and more:

Accounting; Finance; Calculators; Charts; Education; Issues & Tasks; Performance Improvement; Fitness; Sales & Marketing; Databases; Household; Inventory and so much more!

The site is professionally designed with a search engine where you can enter search terms for the spreadsheet you need and a search results page appears with a list of spreadsheets that might interest you. Some of the spreadsheets will be free and some will cost. Paid spreadsheets are typically designed with more functionality, automation, and other resources that could end up saving you time and money after all. The search results page allows you to sort by price, ranking, or author so that you can control the order in which files appear. 

You can download free spreadsheets from Excelville.com. The site has a continually expanding inventory of free spreadsheets that you can download, use, and download another. Many people provide free spreadsheets on the site just to demonstrate some of their capabilities with spreadsheets or just to contribute to a growning spreadsheet sharing community. The advantage of free spreadsheet is that they are free. The disadvantage is that you will probably only get a very basic level of functionality since the provider does not have the financial incentive to put much time and effort into the work.

Excelville honors a 30-day money-back guarantee if you download a spreadsheet that does not perform as advertised or includes obvious flaws. Selling spreadsheets compensates spreadsheet sellers, who might be your friends, family members, collegues, or yourself, for taking the extra care to add value and quality to a spreadsheet template. The potenial value that could be added to a spreadsheet is immeasurable. Check out this article on The Power of the XLS to get an idea for the capability of the spreadsheet.

You can also find spreadsheet downloads in iWork Numbers, Lotus 1-2-3, Open Office Calc, Google Docs Spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel and more...

 

Excelville.com - Make Money With Excel


The Power of the XLS


Posted on February 8, 2011 at 9:28am

How many uses for a spreadsheet... let me count the ways. Have you ever been asked the question...how many spreadsheets does it take to build a city? I bet it takes a lot. Or does it? An Excel 2007 spreadsheet has 65,536 rows and 256 columns. That makes for 16,777,216 cells in an Excel 2007 Spreadsheet; and this is just one tab. It doesn't take many tabs to have as many cells as in the human body. Just think of the calculation power in just one of those roughly 17 million cells per tab. Imagine a formula so powerful that it takes an entire month to create. Then imagine the collective power in an entire tab of cells, then multiply that by the power of a chain of tabs linked together, then multiply that by the fact that you can pull in data from other spreadsheets or other databases. And then you have to consider the multiplying effect of Visual Basic logic on any given cell or group of cells. Its inconcievable to say the least.

Could it be possible for a person to build an entire business or production facility using one xls spreadsheet? This brings the concept of spreadsheet use efficiency and optimization to question. I mean, lets think about it; you can do your accounting, legal forms and contracts, human resources documents, quality assurance specs, training material, engineering drawings and calculators, performance measurement tools, process optimization models, capacity models, sales projections, marketing strategies, and just about anything else using spreadsheets. I would bet that all of these and more combined can be done easily using one tab of a spreadsheet. Lets stretch this concept even further and imagine using one tab per business. Then the question becomes...can a person build a city in one xls spreadsheet? Lets say you have 30 or so tabs and one business per tab, you would have an economic center the size of many small towns across the world.

This information and line of thinking begs the questions of rather you are tapping into even the smallest fraction of the capability that the xls spreadsheet offers. What are the implications on your life as you know it? The information that you use to make decisions? The processes you use to get things done, even simple things such as grocery shopping and planning a trip. Most people use the xls spreadsheet for the most basic functions and no more. Thats like having the entire beach but only having access to one grain of sand. Imagine holding a match up to the sun. Like walking barefoot when you can fly around the world in a G5 without breaking a sweat. Likes struggling to crawl when you can get up and travel at the speed of light. Only if you had the right tools can these things be possible.

I know what you're thinking; it would take forever to develop the skill needed to even begin to harness the power of an xls spreadsheet in your life. But why focus on developing the skill when so many people have developed those skills and are ready to do your bidding for free or an insignificant consideration. The corporate world has figured out that they can move at the speed of light by developing people to be skilled xls spreadsheet developers. You will be hard pressed to find a competitive company that isn't founded on a mountain of xls spreadsheets. Why not reinforce your career, or houshold, or love life, or parenting, or business on the same tool that thousands upon thousands of successful organizations are leveraged on? You too can move at the speed of light. That is the Power of the XLS.


12 Tips for Selling Spreadsheets


Posted on February 8, 2011 at 6:51am

The numbers of ways that a person can use spreadsheets is only limited to the imagination, but who's imagination? Can you imagine a spreadsheet that many, many people could benefit from and would love using? Maybe it provides a systematic way of making some difficult decisions or maybe it provides critical data-driven information. Whatever spreadsheet solution you have in mind, here are 12 tips for making it attractive to spreadsheet seekers:

  1. Identify a market need that a spreadsheet could be designed to fill. The more creative and practical, the better. This way, you minimize the amount of competing spreadsheets currently available while maximizing the likelihood that people will take interest.

  2. Create the spreadsheet in a user-friendly, template format. Design the spreadsheet with the non-spreadsheet user in mind. Try to eliminate any potential for errors, even for the most novice user. Use labels, color coding, and callouts to provide directions

  3. Use colors, images, formatting, and other design elements to enhance the appearance of the spreadsheet. This will help your file catch people’s eye as they look for solutions

  4. Name the file in a way that is attractive, yet effectively explains what the file can be used for. This will help get more clicks from Google and other search engines.

  5. Take attractive screenshots of your file. This way people can get a feel for the design and capability of your spreadsheet. Clean lines and vibrant yet purposeful colors help.

  6. Create a demonstration video and upload it to Youtube or other video websites. In the video, give directions on how they can find and download your file. This will give people another way to find you and helps to clearly demonstrate its capability. It could also serve as an instructions video and is one of the most impactful things you can do to sell spreadsheets.

  7. Include a tab for instructions. This will eliminate a lot of the trial and error that comes with using new spreadsheets

  8. Automate as much of the functionality as possible. The less work people have to do when using the spreadsheet, the more pleased they are with the experience. This also increases your potential customer base because more people will be able operate the spreadsheet with less trouble.

  9. Use graphs and charts to show trends and results. Set up these instruments to populate automatically where applicable. Enhance the appearance of your graphics using the effects available to you in the spreadsheet software. Don't just leave the default graph settings; go ahead and add some flare.

  10. Price the spreadsheet right. Consider the user, their budget, and how much use they will actually get out of it. Also consider the amount of effort that you put into the spreadsheet and its level of functionality and automation. Effectively executing the previous 9 tips also add value in the customer’s eyes. Also consider the pricing of similar spreadsheets; try to imagine that you are the customer comaring spreadsheets. Considering all things make yours the one they buy.

  11. Use detailed and keyword rich text to describe the spreadsheet and its capabilities.

  12. Finally, upload the Spreadsheet and all its glory to Excelville.com and start earning.

 

Excelville.com - Make Money With Excel

Following these simple tips should get you started off on the right track. Use the Spreadsheet Café to get great spreadsheet ideas. You can also post links back to your Excelville Profile page on your social networking profiles. In fact, effectively applying your own marketing techniques will only increase your sales potential.

 

Good Luck

 


Brainstorm To Do List Tool


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:20pm

How many people here just looooove brainstorm sessions? Well have you ever had a brainstorm session where you got plenty of storming but not too many ideas actually came out of it. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone stayed on the same page so that you could have a constructive exercise, get some great ideas and nobody gets hurt. Why not use a spreadsheet  to help facilitate the brainstorming process? This way, you can just bring everyone in the same room, tell them that there is going to be an anything goes brainstorming session, and no ideas will be criticized or evaluated until after the storming session. Then you can input each idea into its own cell and create your list from there. Spend about 30 mins brainstorming (and you can set up your spreadsheet to let you know when you 30 mins are up) and then go through the ideas and vote on each one. Place the amount of votes per idea in the column next to the ideas and finally sort by which ideas got the most votes. You might even want to give each person a limited number of votes to make it interesting. You might also want to have your boss look over the resulting list as a sanity check before you start implimenting the changes. The other way to evaluate ideas from a brainstorming session is to place a weight on each idea based on how well it serves the values of the organization. This method requires a little more calculation but is a great application of a spreadsheet. This process outlines a good way to generate good ideas for continuous improvement projects.

Why not create this spreadsheet and upload it to Excelville.com for others to buy?

 Sell spreadsheets at Excelville.com

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Grocery List Creator


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 8:13am

There are few things in this world that I enjoy less than grocery shopping. Perhaps right up there with root canals and watching CSPAN. For some strange reason, I just feel frustrated and impatient about 30 minutes into the shopping experience. I just wish there was a way to do away with grocery shopping and I can have my food delivered to my refrigerator on-demand. At least there should be a drive through window that lets me insert my preprogrammed card and then some guys come out and load up my trunk..that would be awesome.

Well since the process of grocery shopping is not designed for people like me, I figured it would be best to optimize the process of grocery shopping as we know it. Why not set up a spreadsheet that lets you list out the items you regularly purchase… and some one-off items because you'll end up buying them anyway. Then you could set up information on each item such as pricing, store, and even the aisle where the item is located. You can also set up checkboxes that you would click on to indicate what you need to buy on a given trip to the store. Finally, you can add a field for quantity so that you know how many of each item you need to buy.

The spreadsheet could be set up to produce a report that lists only the items that you need to pick up on a given trip to the store, how many, and what will be the total cost, including tax. Then you could print the shopping list or email it to the spouse to pick the items up, whenever convenient of course

The spreadsheet can even sort the items by what aisle they are stocked in so that you minimize time searching for products…how cool is that?! Luckily for us all, there is currently a spreadsheet available on Excelville.com that does just these things and more, thanks to some awesome contributor named Marian.

Hey, click this link to check it out for yourself:

Grocery Shopping List Spreadsheet

Note: You can always find or share great spreadsheet ideas at the Spreadsheet Café.


Performance Metrics and Tracking


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 8:10am

So…a consultant walks into your place of business and says, I can save you x-million dollars over the next 3 years with my new proven and fail-proof system. And then the consultant takes a few weeks to look around the place, puts together a few reports on all the opportunities you’re missing, and then leaves. And here’s what he leaves you with:

1) A bill for 10% of this imaginary money he just saved you

2) A few spreadsheets or other programs to help track and measure your performance

3) A boatload of work that would have already been done if you had time and resources to do it

and 4) A survey and requests for testimonials.

Well here’s a suggestion, why not keep the 10%, download a Performance Tracking and Measurement Spreadsheet from Excelville.com, and hire someone to actually do the work that you need done. This way you end up with the savings, the performance tools, and the work gets done…and you don’t even have to fill out a survey.

Availablility: There is a Performance Measurement Spreadsheet currently available at Excelville.com

Click here to see all Performance Measurement tools currently available.

Note:  You too can make money using Excel by selling spreadsheets. Click the link for details.


Visual Basic Code Library


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 8:08am

I once had a boss who used to say "I can see that you love building spreadsheets". He was wrong. I didn't really like building spreadsheets, I just liked having spreadsheets that could do my work for me. In other words, it wasn't the process, it was the result. It was the fact that now the machine was doing things that I really didn't want to do so I could focus on things I really enjoyed. I'm sure others who may be reading this can relate. I'm sure you can also relate to the idea that writing, re-writing, and debugging code is a painstaking process. Then the question becomes, why not store codes and spreadsheet formulas in a personal library that you can draw from instead of inventing and reinventing the wheel each time? This will reduce the amount of time spent on creating spreadsheets, thus freeing you up for more of the things you actually enjoy doing. This library can also be shared to make the whole office more productive. For example, Excelville.com has a free download for a Personal Code Library that includes instructions, a code tracking page, and pages for each individual code. Its a simple spreadsheet with a macro that allows you to create a new code page by clicking a button, and then pulls the vital information into a new line on the code tracking page automatically. Check it out…

Personal Code Library

Here's a concept: Once you've built your library up and its all conveniently stored in the spreadsheet file, others can buy it from you using Excelville.com, giving you yet another way to make money using Excel.


Root Cause Analysis Spreadsheet


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 8:06am

Something happens and everyone thinks they know exactly why it happened. The only problem is…what everyone thinks caused the problem – is completely different from what everyone else thinks happened. Sound familiar?  How do you bring some sense of order to this madness? Well, there has been tons and tons of work in the areas of organizational performance and process improvement around Root Cause Analysis. The three most popular forms of RCA are fishbone, 5 Why's, and pareto analysis. Now what does any of these have to do with spreadsheets? Well, the fact of the matter is that a spreadsheet could be set up to facilitate the RCA process with a team of individuals and help make sure its done right and that the appropriate actions are taken to correct and prevent the issue from reoccuring. For example, a spreadsheet was recently added to Excelville.com that allows you to clearly define the issue, walk through the sequence of events, conduct fishbone analysis, conduct 5 why's on each of the factors identified in fishbone analysis, determine the root causes, and then create a follow-up action items list to make sure the right follow-up steps are taken. And the file has navigation buttons and links and automatically pulls info from page to page, making the process of conducting a very thorough RCA seamless. Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Complete Root Cause Analysis Tool

Also, you can also sell spreadsheets at Excelville.com.


Easy Budgeting Spreadsheet


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 8:01am

At the office the other day, I overheard a co-worker talking on end about how he's got this spreadsheet that he's been using to do his household budgeting. He was quite proud about how he could track each and every detailed expense in his spreadsheet. I asked what else it could do and in a confused tone he said, "what else is there"? So I went online to see if I could find a household budgeting spreadsheet and came across the GAM Budgeting and Cash Manager on Excelville.com. This tool not only allowed you to track detailed expenses, it also lets you catagorize expenses, automatically presents monthly trends by category, tells you how many days are left before bills are due, breaks out montly expenses in 3d pie charts, and provides buttons and hyperlinks to help navigate the file. Now I'm debating on going back to my co-worker and answering his question about what else is possible. Maybe I'll just forward him the link and tell him its time to upgrade.


Mortgage & Loan Calculator


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 8:00am

Calculate your monthly payment, principal to interest payout, and payoff amount for a mortgage or other type of loan.

Are you considering buying a home soon? Would you like to know what your monthly payment might be on that home? What about knowing exactly how much is going to interest vs principle for each month's payment. Well, you can buy the home and wait for the bank to provide you with an ammortization schedule…or you download a spreadsheet that does this crazy math for you without even having to leave your computer. A spreadsheet could be set up to allow you to enter the loan amount, the term of the loan, the interest rate, then boom..your schedule is calculated instantly. To make the spreadsheet even more useful, you can set it up to tell you how many days til your next payment is due and the present value of your home (based on the appreciation rate that you enter which varies with the market).  

Availablity: There is currently 1 related spreadsheet in the Excelville.com database.

Check it out at: http://excelville.com/file/42/

Also, remember that you can sell spreadsheets online at Excelville.com.


Time Management & Work Delegation


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:58am

Use this sytem to delegate work effectively and still have time to get stuff done.

Dick Lohr, in his book, “How to Delegate Work and Make Sure its Done Right” talks about a system of cards that could be used to manage the different tasks that you have delegated to your employees. These cards would contain information such as who is responsible, their level of authority, due date, project status, and so on. This is a good system and can certainly help to keep track of what is delegated and allows you to follow up to make sure things get done. But there are 2 inherent problems with using cards to do this: 1) the administrative burden of handling and keeping track of cards, and 2) as cards are physical objects, they have limited space and can be lost or misplaced. Spreadsheets are a much better resource for handling this type of system. A spreadsheet could be set up to help manage work delegation by simply setting up columns for the task, person responsible, due date, level of authority, urgency/importance, and anything else you might feel is needed. This gives you unlimited space, editing, updating, and items will never be lost. And nowadays you can even make so that the file is available on a shared or cloud server so that all of your delegatees have access to it and can get detailed information on what you expect from them. A more advanced version of this file might include KPIs like average time to complete a task per person and how well people execute relative to due date. What are your ideas?

Availability: There is currently no spreadsheet like this available on Excelville.com. Why not be the one to build and offer this spreadsheet from the site?

Click here to learn more about how to sell spreadsheets online.


Track Your Calories - Nutrition Tool


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:57am

We all are on some form of diet or another, consiously or not. Could be a weight loss diet, weight gain diet, weight retention diet, or can’t weight to eat diet. Whatever the case, it just makes sense for us to know and keep good tabs on what we put into our bodies. I’ve been fortunate to have worked for tremendous food companies in my career. One of the best pieces if knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years is that a balanced diet is the key to a healthy diet. But how do you konw for sure how balanced your diet really is? We can estimate on the balance of a meal, and perhaps a day’s worth of meals…but are we completely forgetting essential vitamins and minerals every day simply because they are out of sight and out of mind. You might say, “well, I’m not too worried about it because I take a vitamin suppliment.” In that case, are you getting an overload in some vitamins, which can be just as bad as having deficiency in many cases? Seems a bit trivial doesn’t it?

Well, rest assured, there is hope; and the spreadsheet can help. You could set up a spreadsheet to allow you to enter your recipes and their nutritional profile. Then whenever you eat a meal, you could simply type in or use a data validation drowpdown list to select the recipe and automatically pull in the nutritional profile of that meal. Then you could track information such as vitamin, mineral, calorie, and carbohydrate intake with each meal. Then you could simply set the spreadsheet up to track the elements most important to you by week, month or even year. Granted it would take some time to create the nutritional profiles of each meal, its something that could have a  phenomenal impact over your health over time so it actually well worth the effort. Who knows it might save your life.

Availability: There is currently no similar spreadsheet available in the Excelville.com database. Why not be the first to add it so that other’s can download and use it to improve their lives?


Positive & Negative Feedback Spreadsheet


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:54am

I just finished listening to an audio book called “How to Delegate Effectively and Make Sure its Done Right” by Dick Lohr (really good to listen to, very engaging and insightful information). Now, I know what you’re thinking – What kind of person listens to audiobooks? And I have no good answer to that question…All I can say is that at least I’m not texting while I’m driving.  Anyway, in this book, Dick talks about a system of cards to take notes on the positive things that people have done so that when its time to do performance appraisals, you have some specific good things to say to go with the other stuff  you have to say. This is a great management strategy for letting people konw that you are in-tune with things they do well but can be a bit heavy on the adminstrative side. I thought about how a spreadsheet could do this so much more effectively than stacks of cards. You could easily set up columns for the date of the good deed, person who committed, business result, etc…Then each time someone does something noteworthy, you add a new row with the necessary information. Then when its time to sit with someone and give feedback, you could simply set up an autofilter for that person’s name and have a neat little history of noteworty activity with details and business results. If you want to take this to the next level, you could add a button that adds a new row at the top of the list and copies the correct formats for added convenience.

Availability: There is currently not a spreadsheet like this available in the Excelville.com database…Why not be the one to build and upload it to the site?

Click here to learn more about how you can sell spreadsheets online as well.


Financial Literacy & Management Game


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:53am

In the last few years, money has become a more openly discussed and sensitive topic across many dinner tables. Our parents didn’t discuss money in any level of depth with us when we were growing up. In fact, until I graduated college and made too many mistakes of my own, I didn’t know much about money at all. How nice would it have been to have someone sit me down and teach me the basic concepts of managing money in a way that made sense in my young and distracted mind. It would have been wonderful to have someone explain to me that I have about 45 to 50 years to make all the money I’m going to make in my life so treat each dime with care. How nice would it have been to have a game that allowed me to progress through life making the very financial decisions that I’m making now just to see where I would end up at retirement based on my decisions. And better yet, why not let 3 other friends or family members play along and see who makes the best financial decisions in the long run and why. Well fortunately for the youngsters of today, there is the GAM Financial Destination Game that tracks your wealth as you make decisions throughout life like consumption habits, buying and selling houses, cars, children, etc. The game even takes salary and inflation into consideration.  And its a spreadsheet-based game; who’d have thunk it! Click this link to the Excelville.com file landing page to check it out:

http://www.excelville.com/file/38/

Click here to find out more about how you can sell spreadsheets online as well.


Tax Rate & Tax Calculator


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:51am

Death, Taxes and Spreadsheets – sounds like a best seller. Luckily for most of us, you don’t need to be able to write a best seller to use a spreadsheet. Anyway, a friend of mine told me the other day that he has a tough time tracking and calculating how much he owes his child’s nanny when it comes time to do taxes. In this case he pays the nanny a flat rate everytime she comes to care for the child, which is 3 or 4 times a week. Immediately, I thought about how nice it is that machines are great at doing these types of things for us. He could set up a spreadsheet that allows him to hit a button each time he pays the nanny, then have the spreadsheet take the sum of her payments and then multiply that by some factor that represents the tax rate and there it is. He can track his payments-to-date and exactly how much he would be paying in taxes as he goes. The payrate and tax rate could be set up as variable input fields so that if the nanny somehow negotiates a higher salary at some point throughout the year, the spreadsheet could be adjusted accordingly very easily. If he really wants to show off, he can set up the spreadsheet to automatically graph the payment history from month to month to see behavioral trends over time.

This same concept can be applied to any form of taxable payment; and the tax rate can be set to adjust automatically upon reaching certain milestones. The spreadsheet may not give you the exact result but should get you in the ballpark.

Note: I would strongly recommend using this type of spreadsheet for estimations only and consult with a tax professional before making any rash decisions.

In case you missed it before, check out this quick video from Excelville.com about how you can sell your pre-made spreadsheets online.


CRM - Customer Relationship Manager


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:49am

Only if life were simple enough for me to manage all my contacts on Facebook. But since its not, I have to thank all my buddies at Microsoft, Apple, Lotus, and Open Office for providing the spreadsheet and all its wonders. I found a free download for a simple contact manager that stores all the basic info such as name, number, email, discussion points from last conversation, date of last conversation, and other key bits of information. This tool also tells me who needs to be followed up with and by when.  The nice thing about using spreadsheets as opposed to some rigid software program is that I can tweak and customize at will. Here, check it out for yourself:

http://www.excelville.com/file/41/

Enjoy


Purchasing Decision Tool


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:46am

Have you ever had a discussion with a spouse, partner, or other aquaintenance about the priority of a purchase? Maybe it was a discussion with the spouse about rather or not you should get the big screen HD3D  Flatscreen TV vs spending the money to get the roof fixed. Maybe it was a discussion with your child about getting the new X-Box 360 Kinect vs taking those extra summer school classes so they could graduate early (or on time) (or at all). Would it be nice to have a tool that helped keep everyone on the same page when it come to purchase priorities? Then you can systematically decide what should be purchased and in what order based on your agreed upon values and weights to those values. Luckily for you, there’s a spreadsheet that can help you do just that. Its called the GAM Purchasing Priority Manager and it lets you enter your values as a family or organization, they apply a weight to each value. Then you can list out your purchase ideas and as a group, rate the purchase idea against how well it supports each value. In the end, the spreadsheet assigns an overall score and ranks the list of ideas in order of highest to lowest score. This helps to really clarify how important or urgent your purchase ideas really are. It also helps reduce the likelyhood of impulse purchases and keeps a great list of possible gifts for birthdays or holidays. You can also easily modify the weights of your values as priorities naturally change over time.

http://www.excelville.com/file/35/


Grade Point Average Calculator


Posted on February 7, 2011 at 7:43am

Yes, a spreadsheet could do that too. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and he told me about a convenient little GPA calcuator that he used while he was in school at Washburn University. It was a spreadsheet that recalculated his GPA everytime he input a grade from a class. This in itself is a useful tool since it allows you to input grades and predict the GPA impact of potential future grades. I thought that this concept could be taken a step further by allowing the user to input each assignment for each class, their relative weights on final grade, and the grading curve into the spreadsheet. Then you could recalculate your GPA after each individual assignment…and fool around with some hypotheticals while you’re at it. For the record…Spreadsheet Café says to always do your best in school and get all A’s. Now with that said, its still nice to play around with those hypotheticals. 


The Golden Rules of Spreadsheet Design


Posted on February 4, 2011 at 11:13pm

 

6 Rules on How to Design It, Sell It, and Sell It Again

 

Have you ever wondered why everyone doesn’t use a spreadsheet like the one you’ve got? After all, your spreadsheet takes all of the painstaking work out of the task at hand, leaving you with more time to do the things you enjoy. Well, not everyone has the skills to build spreadsheets like the one you’ve got. And even if they did, would they have time to sit down and do it? Well, perhaps they don’t have the skills or the time and would be interested in one just like yours. But wait, they can’t use yours because they would have to know a bunch of tricks to get it to work right. But… what if you tweaked the functionality to be more automated so that those little tricks won’t be necessary. Well, if you’re thinking along these lines about an awesome spreadsheet you’ve got, then you’re headed down the path of a money making opportunity that many skilled spreadsheet users have yet to explore. This article will help you understand the “Golden Rules of Spreadsheet Design” and how to build spreadsheets for selling.

Rule #1: Simplicity is King

-       The less work required for the user, the more pleasant the user experience. Automate wherever possible.

-       Imagine where users might make errors and eliminate the opportunity for mistakes. Error-proof spreadsheets tend to live longer.

-       Move back-end calculations to a tab out of sight and out of mind. You don’t even want to give the user any ideas. The best design is where the user plugs in the variables and the spreadsheet spits out the result in the adjacent cell.

Rule #2: Color Coding is Key

-       Make the color of input fields a different color from output or formula fields. The standard color for an input field is white, which stands out more when the background is a different color

-       Make the text in variable fields a different color from formula text color. Once the user gets used to this style, they automatically know which fields might need to be changed or updated

-       Make sure the text and background colors of a cell are contrasting colors. Difficult-to-read text simply does not get read.

-       Make the results field a color and size that jumps out at the user. After all, it’s the most important field in the spreadsheet.

-       Use a heading for each tab and make the font larger and bold so the user is clear on where they are in the spreadsheet

Rule #3: Graphics Get the Gold

-       People are very impressed by graphics in spreadsheets. It adds a human element to a tool most known for number crunching. Pictures and style elements work wonders if used effectively in spreadsheets

-       Add gradients or color elements to buttons and other shapes. This gives your spreadsheet a touch of style beyond a quick and dirty spreadsheet

-       Add graphs and charts where applicable. Take the design of the graph to the next level using the tools available in the right click menu. Make the graphs eye-catching, yet fitting for the spreadsheet application

-       Add navigation buttons with hyperlinks to help people navigate the file. Give your spreadsheet a web-page feel that people are familiar with. You might even include a button that hyperlinks to your website or Excelville.com profile page so that users can find more of your spreadsheets when they are ready

Rule #4: Flexibility Opens the Market

-       Design your spreadsheet for many different applications. Let users plug in their own items to be tracked or variable inputs. You never know the intricate details of other peoples’ needs.

-       As in Rule #1, keep it simple. Simple is inherently flexible, that’s the genius of it.

Rule #5: Displays Make Sales

-       Create screenshots that display the spreadsheet as it will be in full use mode. Use dummy data to fill up the spreadsheet for the screenshots. This gives the user an understanding for what the spreadsheet will look like with their data input

-       Try to take screenshots from a variety of tabs showing key features of the spreadsheet. It doesn’t hurt to show detail here as well, especially if you have included some slick graphics

-       Create a short video that walks potential users through the spreadsheet. Highlight key capabilities and functions. Upload the video to Youtube and other video sharing sites. Make sure to let them know where they can get the spreadsheet from, such as your Excelville.com file landing page. Also include the link to your video in your Excelville.com file upload. This will pull the video into the page so that potential buyers can get an even closer look at the file

Rule #6: Test or Be Tested

-       Use the spreadsheet yourself for a week or more to make sure all of the bugs are worked out. You’ll come up with more and more improvement ideas as the testing period passes. Making the needed changes will only make your spreadsheet that much more desirable.

-       Keep a log of everything that needs to be fixed or improved in the spreadsheet. Make time to go back and make the needed changes before you start selling it. If you've already released the spreadsheet for sell, You can always make upgrade releases after significant changes have been made.

-       Get input from others on how the spreadsheet could be a more useful resource. Let them use the spreadsheet to see what issues they run into and continue to simplify.

There they are…the Golden Rules of Spreadsheet Design. These techniques will help you make spreadsheets that others can simply download and start using without much trouble. They will also make it clear why people should buy your spreadsheet as opposed to someone else’s. A good approach would be to benchmark the style and layout of well designed software or websites. This way, people feel like they are using something familiar and working with the spreadsheet will feels natural and more comfortable.

 


Pros and Cons of Selling Spreadsheets


Posted on January 31, 2011 at 6:17am

So you’ve got what it takes to develop spreadsheets that others would find useful. Now you’re thinking about selling your spreadsheets to both help people and generate some additional income using your MS Excel or other spreadsheet development skills. Well, as you know, there are pros and cons to everything you do. Read on to find out what some of them are:

First the pros:

1)      A winning spreadsheet could make you a fortune. If you could effectively identify what many people want and are willing to pay for, and can make your spreadsheet easily accessible, you could be cashing checks for the rest of your life.

2)      You could make money doing something you love (or like [or maybe not so much but just really good at]). It’s great to see a spreadsheet come together, and usually a lot better than what you originally envisioned. Especially when the dang thing works.

3)      You might be providing an extremely valuable service to many, many people. Your spreadsheet might free up peoples time from boring and tedious administrative work to spend more time doing things they love. It might help keep businesses above water or help them reach for new heights. Your spreadsheet might even help to create jobs or at least keep people employed.

4)      Selling spreadsheets helps you to build a catalog of spreadsheets that you can take with you and use in various areas of your life. Spreadsheets built for sale are usually built for flexibility and would be customizable to your life, or job, or new life, or new job.

5)      You can build a reputation as an expert spreadsheet developer. This certainly doesn’t hurt the resume. Using Excelville.com to sell spreadsheets allows you to set up a profile with your work, biography, and other info that certainly makes for good conversation material during interviews.

And then there were cons:

1)      You’ll need to include more than a basic level of development and calculation in your spreadsheet. There are lots of free spreadsheets on the web. Most of which are very simple and easy to build. People aren’t going to buy a spreadsheet that they can get for free. Take yours to the next level by adding all the value you can imagine. Then research on how you can offer a little bit more on the development and functionality side.

2)      You’ll need to develop good marketing material. Things like demo videos, which you can find plenty examples on Youtube, screenshots, and keyword rich descriptive text help people find your spreadsheet and communicate the value that sets yours a level above the rest. Excelville.com actually allows you to upload your spreadsheet with all of this marketing material in an easily searchable and user friendly website.

3)      You’ll need to find a way to make your spreadsheet accessible. You can build a website, which will require paying for a domain, hosting, site security, dealing with an internet transaction service, graphic design, content for the website, marketing your website, Search Engine Optimization, and all the other madness that comes with managing a site. All of these things pull you away from the thing you really want to do…which is to build and sell great spreadsheets. The best thing to do is use Excelville.com since they have web developers and internet marketing specialists to help get exposure for your spreadsheet.

4)      Last but not least…you’ll have to pay taxes on all that extra cash you’ll be raking in. Well, you should anyway.

These are the pros and cons of selling spreadsheets. The real beauty in this idea is that you could do the work once and there is no limit to how much you can earn, especially with effective use of the internet and other mass communication tools. Using Excelville.com, there are no costs associated with selling spreadsheets and you don’t need to build and manage a separate site, which works out pretty well. Whatever path you take, I wish you the best of luck. Leave a comment and let me know how things are going for you.


Sell Excel or Other Spreadsheet Templates


Posted on January 18, 2011 at 9:08am

The Difference Between a Free Download and a Spreadsheet Worth Buying

The moment you download your first free spreadsheet, you’ll immediately realize why it was free in the first place. If you’re a skilled spreadsheet user and thinking that it might be nice to make some extra cash by selling your spreadsheets, don’t be intimidated by others who offer free spreadsheets on the web. Here’s why: There is a such thing as a spreadsheet worth paying for.

Most free spreadsheets on the web offer a very basic and fundamental level of built-in calculation and functionality. Honestly, how much time and effort would you put into a spreadsheet that you were going to upload and give away for free? Exactly, not a whole lot. If you want to sell spreadsheets, you will need to go above and beyond what a free spreadsheet might offer. Don’t just provide a one tab budget that takes a few sums and a few averages, provide a 15 tab budget that breaks out the specific expenses for each month with customizable categories, monthly trends graphics, bill due-date indicator and everything else you can think of. Then go a step further and add some flare by adding colors, instructions, callouts, and images to improve usability. The more information your spreadsheet can provide with minimal input from the user, the better. Also use buttons with hyperlinks to make navigation throughout the file easier. The more value that you can add to the spreadsheet, the more you can charge. Look at the free spreadsheets on the net as a baseline for $0. Then add all the relevant functionality that you can with the understanding that the extra time you put into it will translate into value that the user could get out of it.

Then you have to put on your salesman cap. Create a paragraph or two with descriptive text to accompany the file on the web. Use the Google Keyword Tool to help identify frequently searched words and find the right words to use to describe your file. The more details the better. This makes it easy for people to find your file in the search engines as well as on the site where you would host your spreadsheet such as Excelville.com.

Take a few screenshots of your spreadsheet. Again, there are plenty of free tools online that can help you do this. You can also do a Print Screen (the button near the top right side of your keyboard that says “PrntScr”) and paste it into Powerpoint slide, then save it as a .jpeg. These screenshots will help highlight the file’s look and feel while hinting on functionality.

Finally, create a video that captures what the spreadsheet is capable of. There are many easy-to-use free screen capture tools out there to help you do this. Make it a couple minutes long and make sure to highlight the strongest features of the file. The screenshots and descriptive text can help with the video’s content. Upload this video to Youtube or other video sharing websites. Also embed the video in other places around the web. Include information on where people can find your spreadsheet as well. These kinds of things communicate to people that this spreadsheet is worth going through the trouble of promoting, and its also worth paying for.

Use Excelville.com to upload your file, screenshots, descriptive text, video, and other information to effectively display and make your file easily searchable. Then you have two options:

1)      Let the time and energy you’ve already invested do the work for you and watch the cash roll in

- or -

2)      Be proactive and promote your spreadsheet wherever you feel comfortable doing so…in forums, blogs, chatrooms, social networks, etc… You can even include backlinks to where your file can be found and downloaded from.

All of this can be done and yield nice returns with no money invested. And this process can be repeated over and over with no limits on earning potential. Start with one and see how it goes. Go for something that’s highly marketable. Then releash the Craken. Who knows, you may be able to make a living doing something you love.


Spreadsheet vs Stand-alone BI


Posted on January 17, 2011 at 8:08am

In the past decade or so, there has been a war waged against the spreadsheet for business analytics by stand-alone Business Intellegence software providers. They said things like "spreadsheets have limitations that will cost you in the long run", "this new system will put you on the "bleeding edge" of technology", oh and my favorite, "this new system is going to eliminate spreadsheets in your organization!" The amazing part is that most of the time, all the new system does is make so that you need 10 new spreadsheets to get the information that you actually want from it. I watched in awe as a company I worked for paid over $100,000 for a new downtime tracking system that just reports information from a SQL server, something that could have been done in Excel in weeks if not days. The implementation took over 2 years and costed additional tens of thousands of dollars in contract programming costs. To be fair, the system did have some pretty neat graphics, a slick user interface and some other impressive, though yet to be found useful, features. The problem is that everytime we want some new information from the system, we have to either pay to have a contractor come in and program the new feature or report into the system, or...you guessed it...create a spreadsheet that we can dump the data into and get the info we want. Businesses, especially large ones, breed spreadsheet experts. Support for spreadsheet resources are always at an arms reach and is inherently cheaper. As a result, the lifelong cost of the stand-alone BI system is tremendous compared to the spreadsheet from both an up front cost and support cost standpoint. I could not imagine having a stand-alone BI system for every function that we use spreadsheets for. Don't even get me started on SAP and its painful incompatibility and inflexibility. So what have we deducted from all of this nonsense about BI solutions getting rid of spreadsheets...In the words of Boris Evelson from Forrester Blog's Business Processing Professionals Blog, "the spreadsheets for BI are here to stay for a long, long, long time." And in fact are growing in application and popularity. Applications like Microsoft Office Excel, Apple iWork Numbers, and Lotus Notes 1-2-3 are only evolving as the technology world evolves and fine-tuning and adding functionality with each new release. In addition, Excelville.com makes expert spreadsheet design talent accessible to all for business or personal uses. The site also gives spreadsheet designers an opportunity to draw income from their design talent. One other nice feature is the site's idea blog, which allows people to post ideas for creative, practical, and/or interesting ways that people are using spreadsheets. 


Shocking Truth


Posted on January 17, 2011 at 7:52am

PEOPLE ARE LEARNING THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT THEMSELVES THROUGH REAL DATA

How Spreadsheets are Changing the Way We Make Everyday Decisions

Research has shown time and again how evolving from belief-based decisions to data-based decision-making greatly increases our effectiveness. So why are so many people struggling to adopt the use of data in their decision-making? A study performed by J. Hutchinson, J. Alba, and E. Eisenstein called “Heuristics and Biases in Data-Based Decision Making” suggests that people hold on to preconceived biases for several reasons, including prior training, experiences, or desired outcome to an agenda. Another suggestion is that people are not comfortable or familiar with the collection and analysis of data, which is the process that turns a bunch of meaningless numbers into a clear and engaging story, often revealing information that slaps common sense in the face and throws conventional wisdom right out of the window. Done correctly, data collection and analysis can reveal the ugly (or beautiful) truth about ourselves, our behaviors, our businesses, our households, our culture, or anywhere else we apply this powerful resource. Author, Daniel T. Larose calls this the process of discovering knowledge in his book, Discovering Knowledge in Data, An Introduction to Data Mining (2004).

Luckily for us, many well-known spreadsheet software applications such as Microsoft Office Excel and Open Office Calc bring this potentially complex process well within the scope of possibility. To simplify things ever further, anyone can now find the perfect spreadsheet template or application pre-made by experts on websites like Excelville.com. Excelville has created an online marketplace that allows spreadsheet developers to upload pre-made spreadsheet templates and applications, and then allows others to quickly download instead of spending countless hours creating from scratch. This allows anyone with a computer and a spreadsheet program to use data to improve their decision-making effectiveness, thus improving their quality of life or making their business more successful. The more proficient the developer, the better the user experience in the process of managing data. More advanced spreadsheets can perform the functions of many other software or websites but at a fraction of the cost, or free. Some of these functions might include push button data collection of times, dates, occurrences, and more and then automatically calculating and presenting the analysis in graphical format. In this instance, all of the work is done by the spreadsheet; all the user has to do is push the button and make the right decision.  


Sell Spreadsheets as Customer Service Add-On


Posted on January 17, 2011 at 7:47am

This article covers the newest trend in business of selling spreadsheets as a way to further serve you existing customer base and potentially attract on new customers. As an existing business, you will see that it not only gives you the ability to serve thousands and potentially millions more poeple, it also makes you more competitive in the marketplace that you operate.

The concept is simple; create spreadsheets that perform a function or set of functions that your customer base or target customer would find useful and make it available to them. This works because spreadsheets, if designed by a skilled developer, can be developed quickly and very flexible to fit the specific needs of your customers. You can essentially introduce a continuous stream of software solutions to either compliment or suppliment your existing service. A few examples might be as follows:

A financial advisor might provide spreadsheets that help you budget, calculate your net worth, or manage your 401k. What this says to the customer is that you want to help them out in any way you can. It also says that you are confident the personal service that you provide is valuable above and beyond that of any software application.

A restaurant owner might provide spreadsheets that helps people track their nutritional intake. What this says to the customer is that we are experts on nutrition and want to help you be healthy. This might also help generate positive PR for any restaraunt that others perceive as serving unhealthy meals.

A car dealer or mechanic might provide a spreadsheet that helps you keep track of you vehicle maintenance schedule and warns you when you are approaching a checkpoint. This communicates to the customer that this mechanic or car dealer wants to help them keep the car running, which is important for any profession that people have a natural reluctance to confide.

Spreadsheets as a service provides many benefits to the provider. Among them are increased income opportunity. Using a site like Excelville.com to sell spreadsheets or provide them for free, you instantly become a global service provider with little to no effort needed. You immediatly go from serving tens and maybe hundreds of people to servings thousands and tens of thousands around the world, positioning yourself as a much more influential player in your industry. Another benefit is that you build trust that you are there to take care of your customers and are providing them new and innovative ways to improve their daily lives. You also have an extremely inexpensive or free way to brand your business and increase awareness of your business in the marketplace. Everytime the customer opens your spreadsheet, they could have your brand and a link to connect with you every day and potentially several times a day.

Excelville.com even has a team of experts that will help you identify the right spreadsheet solution for your customers and build the application for you as part of their Custom Spreadsheet service. Then you can simply upload the spreadsheet to the site and become a worldwide provider. You can then place the link to your spreadsheet's landing page or your Excelville.com profile page on your personal website to let your customers know where to get their copy.


Downtime Tracking & Reporting Tool


Posted on January 1, 1970 at 12:00am

Having great data on hand to understand production systems and know where the greatest opportunities for improvement is a prerequisite to driving inefficiency out of your business. In my professional experience, I’ve seen several different types of downtime tracking and analysis systems used to lead performance improvement. All of them were stand-alone softwares that were very rigid in both functionality and reporting. In most cases, I ended up dumping the data into Excel spreadsheets to perform the real analysis and reporting. I wondered if these companies had challenged the idea that maybe we could eliminate these “stiff” systems and just use a combination of SQL databases and spreadsheets to handle our downtime tracking and analysis. This would allow unlimited flexibility in the way we crunched and presented the numbers. Accountants, who were the original users of computer systems in business, have known this for years. An effective downtime tracking spreadsheet could be made by using cell validation to standardize entry of equipment names and reason codes. This would make filtering and sorting easier for the user. The spreadsheet could also be set up to automatically pull the raw data from the SQL database and refine it into usable information…automatically – by time period, by product, by production line, by shift, or any other way that a stand-alone software could present. Then presented in a web-based format as is expected with newer software. There are numerous directions that this application can be taken and may vary from business to business. These types of tools can be acquired and supported for an insignificant cost or free. Its a simple step toward being more competitive.

Availability: As of 2/5/2011, there is one similar spreadsheet available on Excelville.com. It was uploaded recently by Max Performance and appears to be a very flexible and intuitive  spreadsheet. Check it out for yourself. Also, find or share great ideas for practical spreadsheet uses at Spreadsheet Café.




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