Entrepreneurs are almost spoilt for choice when choosing business software. In an age of custom technologies and integrated AIs, sometimes it’s easy to get blinded by the possibilities. In this situation, perhaps it’s best to focus on what you need to achieve rather than pushing barriers – and potentially suffering diminished returns as a result.  Andy Brown gives us some detail to think about. 


Instead, consider focusing on Microsoft Excel. Research has demonstrated that this software is still incredibly popular with organisations. In fact, 70 per cent of companies reportedly use Microsoft Excel for mission critical processes.

Indeed, it is still a common component of businesses due to its flexibility, quick modelling and ease of use, as well as its powerful formulae and calculations. Yet, what can you actually achieve with Microsoft Excel?  In this blog, the experts at Wise Owl wanted to show you four main uses.

Use 1 – Excel as a Spreadsheet

Excel started life as a humble spreadsheet, and this is still its main use. You can type in a formula to calculate the profitability of a film (or movie, depending on where you’re reading this):


And then copy this down, by double-clicking on the autofill handle:


To get the same calculation (box office takings minus budget) for every film/movie:


Note that for the above example we’ve also set a clever custom number formatting code for the profit code. For aficionados of custom formats, this is $#,##0,,” m” (the two trailing commas each scale the number displayed by 1,000, so the result is scaled by a factor of one million).

Use 2 – Excel as a reporting tool

Excel does much more than just crunch numbers, however. The spreadsheet below includes a chart and a table of data:


By turning off the display of Gridlines and Headings on the View tab (as shown at the top of the screen shot), you can make Excel look very un-Excel-like!

Use 3 – Excel as a Database

You can use Excel to import data from a text file, database or just about any other data source.  For example, you could choose to import the best films listed on Rotten Tomatoes:


Type in the website address you want to go to:


Choose which table of data you want to import:


You can then click on the Load button at the bottom right corner of the dialog box which appears, to import your data into Excel. The first 5 movies are shown below – where has “The Parent Trap” gone?


You can then sort and filter this table, or even configure the import to choose only certain rows and columns.  Excel’s ability to work with data rivals that of many dedicated databases.

Use 4 – Excel Automated

In addition to all of the above uses, you can write macros to automate your work.  To try this out for yourself, try the following experiment. In an Excel worksheet, press ALT + F11 to go into the Visual Basic code editor (Visual Basic is the language used for Excel macros).


Now choose to insert a module (a module is like a sheet of paper on which you write your macros):

Now type in the following in the blank screen which appears:

Sub EnterName()

‘go to the top left cell and type your name
ActiveCell.Value = “Bob”

End Sub

Position your mouse pointer somewhere within this macro and press the F5 function key. When you have a look at your worksheet, you should see your name (or at least Bob’s) in cell A1!

This article was provided by Andy Brown, director at Wise Owl Training. The organisation provides computer training for businesses and individuals. He hopes that this has given you sufficient motivation to explore Excel further!