software backgroundMy business took off after I quit Excel

My business took off after I quit Excel

By Fabien PaupierUpdated: 11 August 2023, first publication: June 2017

When we want to create a business, we pay attention to costs - particularly at the start of the activity, when the budget is limited. To manage their accounts, new entrepreneurs like already operating VSBs often use Excel. This spreadsheet is quick in uptake and easy to use, but it isn't really adapted for accounting, and in the development phase of the work, its limits are quickly exposed.

Excel, a software you need to know well

In order to have a reliable and functional accounting system on Excel, you need to first get to know this software well. In truth, a basic understanding of the spreadsheet won't be enough to properly manage your company, especially since you will have to consider the following from the start:

  • the information you will need to manage and monitor your work
  • the legal obligations you will have to integrate into Excel
  • the information flows which will circulate within your company and outwardly (between your company and your certified public accountant for example).

Additionally, to properly manage your business and accounting activities through Excel, you will also need to think about all of the users and their specific needs - firstly, your certified accountant of course, but also your (future) employees. Everyone will want access to particular information in order to complete their tasks. Using Excel then involves an important implementation phase. For your accounting management with Excel to be at least functional, you will need:

  • to integrate debit/credit processes
  • to be able to categorize your expenses: salaries, spending, credit reimbursement ...
  • to be able to categorize your payment means: debit card, check, transfer, withdrawals
  • monitor account changes with a bank balance
  • provide a monthly log of account movements

So that Excel remains functional and adapts to your developments, you need to also think about the software development possibilities. Thus, it would be more appropriate to create evolving drop-down lists for the categories and payments. You will then need to manage this aspect of the office suite, without forgetting of course a sound knowledge of calculation formulas...

A time-intensive management

The implementation of Excel as a management tool for your work will take time. Its daily use will take even more. Whether it is used to generate a quote, a bill or to enter accountancy lines, the number of necessary steps will be substantial. Thus, if we take the concrete example of bill management in Excel, you will have to:

  • create a new file or tab
  • manually number the bills
  • enter the client details and the product lines
  • create sum, rebate, VAT and discount (if necessary) calculation formulas, etc...
  • register the bill and send it to the client via mail
  • create the regular payment reminders yourself
  • manually monitor payments
  • create a summary table for all the bills
  • implement activity reports
  • etc...

The process is tedious and necessary for every client. The risk of errors is clearly great, whether that's in the information entry or the calculation formulas... As a management software, Excel reaches its limits very quickly in this situation.

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