written by alison

I’m typically described as artistic, quirky, right-brained, crafty, etc. I’d agree with all of those adjectives and any synonyms that may come later. One of the earliest examples of this being accurate is when a much younger version of myself painted the walls with my older sister’s nail polish. It’s not my toddler self’s fault that they make them look like mini paintbrushes!

Fast forward a few years and you’d find me sewing my own clothes, along with dresses for others, painting my bedroom walls (with my mother’s permission this round) and writing enough poetry to fill notebooks and binders alike.

Maybe it’s my architect father or the fact that I’m a gemini. Probably a combo of both with some other random causes mixed in. Whatever the reason, I’ve always identified myself as a creative individual and will do so for a long time to come.

But like every yin, there is a yang to my madness. It comes in the form of a spreadsheet lovin’ math nerd. I’m certainly no Rainman, but I did have to walk to the middle school for math classes while in elementary school. (Mental note: lessons in how¬†not to be cool, advanced math classes.)

Again, maybe my gemini spirit is to blame or all of the thanks should go to my accountant mother. No matter how crafty I am, I will always enjoy a few hours with my spreadsheet software of choice and lots of data to sort, compute and organize.

Case in point: 2014. As an entrepreneur, I’m always dealing with numbers – typically money related. It’s critical to my success to track income, expenses, profit, goals and the like. I’ve done a fairly reasonable job at it, but noticed that I had a few too many spreadsheets for the various things I needed to calculate.

As every human seems to do in December, I set some goals for myself for the upcoming new year. One of those goals was to improve my profit tracking skills and also pay attention to my income goals as they compare to selling specific services that I’ll be offering through my business. Long story short, time is money and I need to be better about how I use mine.

Since I have been on vacation (for the most part) the last 2 weeks, I decided it was the perfect time to combine the best parts of my current spreadsheets and charts into one massively helpful file. I set aside a block of hours on 12/31/2013 to hang out on the couch with my laptop, glasses and formula knowledge thinking that was all I required.

What happened instead, was a pleasant reminder that I love love LOVE playing in spreadsheets. Improving them, styling them and most importantly, automating them. The final result (a few days and hours later than planned) is a 7 tab Excel file that will give me a monthly overview of income, spending and goals (both business and personal) based on whatever month I select, the same information in an annual layout including averages, highs and lows, calculate my quarterly estimated taxes based on my income minus expenses but also subtracting what I’ve already paid to the government for the year, list and categorize all money out and in, track projects by client including their abbreviation, estimate total, amount paid and total remaining, a scorecard for my business for the year and an overview of how my business has been performing since my first project many years ago.

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If that last paragraph bored the shit out of you, I wish I could pawn some of my excitement for it off on you. Clearly I have more than enough for one person. It’s almost ridiculous how proud I am of my formulas, conditional formatting, data validation and styling. (Because I can’t completely turn off my creative side.)

Moral of the story? Embrace your talents and passions whole-heartedly. Then pay someone else to do what you can’t. (Mental note: call accountant regarding recent income goals.)