Category Archives: WIMSisms

Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Time and time again, we have witnessed corporate empires come crashing down. On a high from peak performance, many of these companies were resistant to change their historically successful practices with their “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” or “we’ve always done it this way” mindsets. The things that got them to the top eventually led to their downfall. Instead of proactively preparing for an inevitably changing environment, firms often find themselves behind the innovation curve because they have relied on their organizational inertia from past wins. 2020 has been a year full of thrivers and survivors, but it has looked a little different than other times of financial uncertainty.

Instead of a shifting of industries on the power curve like during the global financial crisis when electronics, utilities, and financial services fell off their historical peaks, we are instead seeing a further widening of the performance gap between industries. According to an article published in July by McKinsey & Company, the six most profitable industries have seen $275 billion a year added to their expected economic profit pool; the six least profitable industries have lost an estimated $373 billion. Companies that did well before the pandemic are proving to be resilient.

The thrivers have taken an adaptive and innovative approach to business and include the following industries: pharmaceuticals, software, technology hardware, and media. After releasing last quarter’s earnings, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” The survivors, many on the verge of bankruptcy, are not doing well. This is a trend that existed, but only proved to accelerate with the onset of COVID-19.

The fastest companies to adapt to the new norm have been and will continue to be the quickest winners taking advantage of opportunity during this crisis. Manufacturers of personal hygiene-related products are increasing production. An exponential increase in demand for pharmaceuticals has these companies reinventing their production processes as well. The potential of the telehealth industry is being realized as nearly half of all physicians are treating patients virtually, up from 18% in 2018. Automation through robotics has created an interesting angle for companies through the mere fact that robots cannot get sick like human employees. E-commerce companies have spent money on adapting infrastructure and capacity as they receive more of the traditional brick-and-mortar retail market. Tech-heavy firms have further adapted their ecosystems.

Even companies in traditionally slow-adapting industries have made changes. Restaurants have increased their delivery and take-out volumes, putting together special packages that entice customers to pick up. Multi-family, specifically apartment complexes, have gotten creative with their marketing to get leases signed. Universities have been pressured to express the importance of their value to not only current, but prospective students, as the online education market was already expected to triple in growth from 2015 to 2025. With interest rates reaching record lows, an increase in buyers and homeowners looking to refinance are shaping an attractive future for the real estate market. Implementation of new technology into these industries is paramount to the future of these firms.

These industries, high in reliance on the demand of consumers, also need to realize the importance of relationships with those who make them money, the customers. They can get the most out of their marketing by implementing CRM systems, such as Zoho or Salesforce, to methodically target and follow up with prospects. Businesses need to reallocate resources to parts of their business that have the most growth potential in the future.

To the companies that have waited for some clarity from the fallout of this pandemic, you need to realize that doing nothing is doing something (although we would not recommend that). Companies that move early in a crisis and get ahead of competition often maintain this lead for years. Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “The wise man is the one who knows what he does not know.” There is always room for improvement and no proven right answer as times are constantly changing. Without staying ahead of trends or at least educating yourself about them, your practices will soon be outdated.

It is clear given the current state of the world that changes need to be made to your business; do not waste any more time. Transformational leaders do not let a good crisis go to waste. What are you willing to do to take advantage of the pandemic’s opportunities?

If you need assistance, we have a variety of bundles to help you start a company, scale a company, or simply perfect your marketing and CRM implementation. Check out our 10K to 10X Video bundle, 10K to 10X 2020 bundle, 90 day MVP package, or reach out to WIMS Consulting to see how we can add value to your business.

WIMS Client Spotlight Charlotte Phoenix esports

WIMS Client Spotlight: Charlotte Phoenix eSports

The Charlotte Phoenix are a professional eSports organization dedicated to enhancing the Charlotte eSports scene. Founded in 2019, the Phoenix have competed in several different video games and pro leagues. As a part of the CLT Esports family, the Phoenix value their surrounding Charlotte communities and support all efforts rewarding passions in eSports, gaming, art, and technology. Whether streaming games online or holding in-person LAN events in the Queen City, the Charlotte Phoenix are hyped to entertain their fans and fellow gamers.

They have teams for the following games:

  • World of Warcraft
  • VALORANT
  • Rocket League
  • Call of Duty (Challenger Teams)
  • League of Legends (Challenger Teams)

After rising #FromTheAshes with a brand-new look in 2019, the Charlotte Phoenix have spread their wings into more games in 2020, starting with VALORANT.

Visit the website and stay tuned to their social channels for merchandise deals, news on upcoming events, and exciting announcements throughout the rest of the year! If you’re interested in partnership or sponsorship opportunities make sure to reach out as well as it’s a truly unique time and opportunity as their audience and influence is growing rapidly.

Get Ready Stay Ready

Get Ready. Stay Ready.

The more appropriate saying is, “STAY ready so you don’t have to GET ready.” Alas, I unfortunately wasn’t following these guidelines. Not too make excuses, but between baby #2, the holidays, and then just plain life I got out of shape and way off the rails. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of things still went really well during this time, but despite that I began to slack in two really important areas: health and finances. Worse yet, I know better than to fall into this downward spiral.

At the beginning of the CoVid-19 situation and quarantine this continued for a week or two (in fact it became even easier with the gym closing and more time at home, etc.). I had known for a while some sort of market correction was on the horizon, knew I should be incredibly prepared for it, yet I STILL didn’t do nearly enough.

Finally I realized I had to wake up and snap out of it! Just because I wasn’t where I should be, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything in your power to start and get there. Better late than never, right?

This epiphany was a few weeks ago now, as I just finished Day 25 of a program called 75 Hard. 75 Hard is a program created by a game named Andy Frisella, the CEO of a supplement company called 1st Phorm. The criteria list is below. It’s part fitness challenge, but it is equally a mental challenge as well which is what was just as alluring.

As my companies WIMS Consulting, EolianVR, and ARRE (Augmented Reality Real Estate) all continue to grow and scale at a pretty rapid pace I have no choice but to continue leveling up. If I’m not practicing what I preach and leading by example then I shouldn’t expect many to follow. That very much includes health and finances, but also just the mental toughness and focus required as well (pretty obvious, right?)

I’m 1/3 of the way there, 2/3 to go! Here are the rules:

  • Work out two times a day for 45 minutes minimum. However, one of them has to be outside regardless of the conditions (I’ve had several late night workouts in the rain already and they were actually glorious).
  • NO booze.
  • Follow a diet – Mine is essentially based on NO dessert/sweets and intermittent fasting for at least 4 days of the week.
  • Drink a gallon of water a day.
  • Read at least 10 pages of a physical book (no audio books allowed).
  • Take a progress picture each day (luckily those are starting to get better now haha).

So far I’m already down about 15 lbs (I still have about another 15 to go). I’ve crushed 2 books – Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Bold by Peter Diamandis. Next up is finishing Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman. That being said, there is still a long way to go. There is even more reason to ratchet up as in the next 1/3 as I hit my 34th birthday in about 4 weeks and I want to hit that milestone with serious momentum.

The hard part is getting back on track, the “getting ready.” Hopefully after this time around will make sure to stay ready across the board for whatever comes next.

What are you doing during this time to stay on top of your game and get better? Or are you just using this time to relax and reflect? Either way that is a deeply personal choice but I’d love to hear.

The WIMS Guide CoVid-19 Edition Charlotte

The WIMS Guide CoVid-19 Economy Edition aka “The Charlotte Coronaconomy”

By now we’re well into the quarantine period and pretty deep into the business disruption that’s been the byproduct of the spread of CoVid-19/Corona Virus. At this point many of us are (at least relatively) beginning to adjust to the new normal and catch our breath in terms of what this means to our various businesses. Hopefully you’ve been able to strategize on potential pivots, are making the necessary adjustments, and are getting closer to finding a new groove for the path forward.

On the other hand, it would be naive to think that every businesses is going to make it through unfortunately. To think where we are now compared to even a month ago is pretty horrifying. But that being said, the ONLY thing to do now is continue to march onward with an unrelenting focus on doing whatever it takes (even if that means closing up shop and going in a different direction) to get through this. Looking forward is really all that matters now.

In that light I want to use my company’s (WIMS Consulting) platform, clients, partnerships, relationships, etc. to help share resources, ideas, insights, hope, strategies, etc. to help you and your business navigate these waters. I know a lot of people are doing this too and some of these things may be redundant, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t do my part and just let others do the leading during this time.

Considering the majority of our our business is based in Charlotte, NC and Miami, FL I’m going to create a page for each with specific local information in addition to the more macro/federal stuff. Further, I’ve volunteered to help lead the “South Florida Business Continuity Task Force” so will be sharing more information about that too as we launch the website later today (3.25.20). In Charlotte, we’re going to spearhead something similar via the Charlotte Business Group. Stay tuned!

In the mean time please reference the content below which I’ll be updating regularly. If you have anything else you’d like me to add please email me directly at msimmons@wims-consulting.com.

It may sound insensitive right now, but as the saying goes: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This is going to produce unprecedented opportunities if you look for them. Another extremely applicable quote: “This too shall pass!”

-Mike

 

Financial Support

SBA/Disaster Relief Loans:

By now just about everyone has been spreading the word on this. But this piece from the Charlotte Business Journal was really well done. “What small businesses in North Carolina need to know about SBA disaster-relief loans”.

IRS – Federal Tax Relief protocol.

North Carolina Department of Revenue CoVid-19 Tax Relief Guidelines.

Charlotte/Mecklenburg County:

Carolina Small Business Development Fund: Small Business Lending: COVID-19 Update from Our President & CEO, Kevin Dick

Mecklenburg County ​Office of Economic Development another incredible set of resources surrounding things not solely business related but also with an expanded scope.

How to Get Mortgage Relief (Investopedia)

 

Charlotte Impact/Next Steps

Charlotte Regional Business AllianceCoVid-19 Resource Portal this expands well outside just greater Charlotte too and includes resources for the much larger regional footprint. Check it out, extremely valuable. It even goes into the personal health side of things, again which is outside of the scope of what we’re trying to accomplish here but if you’re curious this is the place to go. This also includes guidance from lawyers, accounting firms, etc.

Charlotte Inno – Startup Related: “Coronavirus-Related Resources for Charlotte Startups” This is an incredible and robust list that gets into operational recommendations among others.

North Carolina Chamber Coronavirus Resource Guide including Small Business Resource Center.

Charlotte Inno“Amid Coronavirus, Charlotte Tech Leaders Talk Next Steps for the Business Community”.

Charlotte Business Resources CoVid-19 Resources.

 

Ideas/Strategies

65 Free Tools to Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic (Entrepreneur Mag)

On CRM: How Companies Are Leveraging Their CRM Systems To Help Navigate Through COVID-19 (Forbes)

Coronavirus: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know (Wix) great article with a lot of sound ideas, even if some are seemingly obvious.

Email Marketing: This was a great article from Fast Company, and insightful. Just because everyone else is sending emails doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do one too. Just make sure it’s really well done if you do and that it adds value to your audience (don’t be self serving).

List Of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Relief Programs (Forbes)

COVID-19 Will Fuel the Next Wave of Innovation (Entrepreneur Mag)

 

MORE TO COME!!

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 7 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 7 – CRM: Gone Mobile

Today we’ve gone mobile, shooting from the mountains of Banner Elk, NC! It’s appropriate for today’s theme (we’re still drilling deeper into CRMs) about the mobile side of CRM.

Ideally, whatever platform you decide (or chose) will have a great mobile application as well. It can truly make a major difference with not only efficiency, but also with maximizing the program’s value. My go-to’s have great mobile apps of course (Zoho, Salesforce.com, HubSpot) but plenty of others do too.

It helps to be able to add notes/updates immediately after a coffee or lunch meeting, or after discussing an actual deal. I haven’t always been great at it either, but getting all the pertinent and timely data in the system ASAP really helps to ensure you don’t forget any of the crucial, and sometimes subtle details and information gleaned from those meetings. Further, being able to pull out your phone (when appropriate) to recall a key piece of intel can be valuable as well.

Why rely on your memory when you have a supercomputer in your pocket?

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 6 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 6 – CRM: The A-Team

If you’re following along (if not that’s ok too) today we’re talking about what you do as the next step in launching or redeploying your CRM. You’re going to focus solely on the A players for now. The main thing that is going to create momentum and keep you using the system is achieving ROI as quickly as possible. That’s the main benefit you want out of this and thus its the primary goal.

The quickest way to get there is prioritizing the A players first, aka your best clients and prospects. So after you’ve got the data, context, and all the other appropriate information about them in there you’re then going to focus on doing something about it.

You’re going to pick these people and go through them and schedule/pre-plan your out reach and follow up strategy. You’re going to leverage the task list, the calendar, reminders, etc. to layout the timing and content with which you’re going to conduct your outreach. And you’re going to leverage the CRM to systematize/automate it and take out the human element (somewhat, but not entirely).

By now you should have some sort of script that articulates your value proposition well along with a deck or brochure. Pre-schedule your follow up, and do between 3-7 touch points to make sure you see it through. Once you close the deal you can eliminate the subsequent steps as they’re convert. Put the email script in there, add some customized talking points, context, recall a funny joke or something they care about and set the entire campaign up in one shot.

The feeling you’ll get knowing this has been accomplished is going to propel you forward and create an invaluable supplement to your day to day activities. Give it a shot and let me know if you need any assistance.

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 3

The WIMS Guide Ep. 3 – For Entrepreneurs and Professionals Focused on the Journey

It’s Friday! Already got day 7 of my gym streak knocked out, got it in early today as opposed to the 10pm sessions I’ve been pulling off lately.

Today’s client work was mostly related to government/military contracting as well as the legal industry. Fascinating stuff. I try to bunch project work together by themes/industries as much as I can in order to maintain a consistent and appropriate mindset. It doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does I find it helps create more efficiency as you don’t have to transition from say a law firm to a restaurant instantaneously.

Also, I’m rocking the Charlotte Business Group pullover on this rainy Charlotte Friday to give the organization a little extra love as we have big plans for 2020 as well. We also have an event with the Charlotte Hornets coming up on Wednesday the 8th. Make sure you stay tuned!

Most important however, I wanted to use today’s post as more of a call to action to all of you. If you’ve got the goal of creating more written and video content surrounding your business I’d love to do some guest posts/collaborations moving forward. I just have a few small stipulations that I list on here. So please reach out to me so we can make this happen!

PS, yes I’m a pacer, rocker, fidget-er even (again media training on the way), it comes out especially when running on pure adrenaline after a wild week too haha. (Man watching these playbacks is awkward…)

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

 

The WIMS Guide Video Edition

The WIMS Guide Video Edition Ep. 1

Happy New Year and welcome to the new decade! After about 50 takes I figured what the heck, let’s just launch this thing. It’s raw and vulnerable, warts and all. Clearly I need a media training refresher from my wife who is a former TV reporter. But that’s ok, the polish will come later with practice and reps.

Without further ado, coming to you from the WIMS, Inc. War Room it’s The WIMS Guide video edition! I’ve procrastinated for years now on doing video content as surprisingly, it may be the one area I’m a little self-conscious. But that’s also why I needed to just put myself out there and DO it already. So here we are.

I definitely cringed a little (ok a lot) watching the play back, but I will absolutely get better. I’ll begin conveying my thoughts my clearly and concisely. But if you could give your boy a little grace here in the beginning, I’d appreciate it. Or don’t, feel free to roast me too I can take it.

As the blog this is meant to be about the never ending/ongoing journey of business, entrepreneurship, professional development and much more. I’m going to try to provide you with as much value as I can through the insights gained from running my companies, WIMS Consulting, EolianVR, and ARRE (along with perspective and experience gleaned from dozens of clients across a variety of industries and sizes). But I also want to learn more from you too, and even build a community around our shared insights and experiences.

My goal isn’t to build a Gary V or Grant Cardone or Ed Mylett style vlog. It’s to just force myself to get better, get out of my comfort zone, and try to serve my community in any way I can. That’s really all I can hope for. It could last a week, or a decade, we’ll see…

Here goes nothing!

 

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

Q4 Finish Like a Savage Prep for 2020

STILL PLENTY OF TIME IN Q4: FINISH LIKE A SAVAGE & PREPARE FOR 2020 DOMINATION!

There’s something about Q4 that is always exhilarating to me. Knowing that “the game” is coming to an end, each and every play is more significant, there’s less margin for error. Perform well during this time and you can make up for a lot of previous mistakes and setbacks along the way. Let up or fumble the ball, and you can destroy all the momentum you made thus far. No pressure, right?

All of this is going on while simultaneously a new game is going to begin soon thereafter. Endings are always thrilling, but so are new beginnings after all. The new year coming up is especially enticing. Not only is it a new year, but it’s a whole new DECADE. The freaking Roaring 2020’s are upon us.

Despite the hectic grind I’ve been on lately (pretty perpetual at this point, but even crazier with baby #2 arriving very soon), I wanted to take a little time to revisit and write up a quick/updated “Q4 Manifesto” which is mostly for myself, but then I decided to add a few extra tips for you too, primarily applicable to both your business and professional life.

  • Don’t wait for January 1st to start your New Year’s Resolutions, now’s as good a time as any. It’s a misguided practice that usually doesn’t end well anyway. You don’t need an arbitrary start date to work on self-improvement, that should be a daily practice as it is. Why not start right now?
  • Get AGGRESSIVE – Close out ALL of those pending dream deals that have been lingering. Do much more outreach and lead generation. Don’t dwell on whether you’re annoying people or assume that they already have an expert helping them that does what you do. Push harder!
  • Try not to eat and drink everything in sight just because it’s the holidays. Maintain (or in some cases start) your workout routine consistently and only indulge occasionally. It’s especially tough given all the parties and networking events, but some balance now will spare you later.
  • Enjoy time with my family and friends and BE PRESENT. Don’t spend that precious time distracted with your head in the clouds and worrying about things that are out of your control.
  • Debrief/Reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t, what do you need to improve upon? Lay it all out objectively and identify opportunities to get better. While this may seem obvious, it’s crucial.
  • Strategize for 2020 (and beyond) now. Spend an appropriate amount of time writing out specific goals, sketching out project plans, and dreaming big. It’s rare that a whole new decade is about to start so let your imagination run a little wild to kick things off. From there be mindful, thoughtful, deliberate, and thorough enough to also make your plan realistic while still stretching yourself. Once this exercise is completed, start working on implementing that strategy ASAP to carry some momentum with you.
  • Add appointments to your 2020 calendar (monthly/quarterly, etc.) now to make sure you schedule the time to reflect on your progress and measure where you’re at along the way to ensure you continuously improve.

A few specifically for you:

  • Get and implement a CRM already! Seriously, how many times do I have to say it? If you need to spend some time asking a few questions on how to get started, reach out to me, that part is, and always will be, on the house.
  • Start a blog, a podcastvideo/webinar series, whatever. Leverage content marketing to develop and enhance your brand and get your business’ name out there.
  • Finally start that business you’ve been day dreaming about for years now.
  • Or at least start working on that side hustle you’ve been planning.
  • Identify an organization you’re interested in and get involved in the community. This could be philanthropic or civic, doesn’t matter as much as simply taking action and giving back.

I’m sure there are plenty others I’m forgetting. And I will likely revisit this some more over the next few months to continue tweaking it.

What are some of your Q4 goals? What about your 2020 goals? How can I help you achieve them? Please let me know, would love to hear from you!

Data Analytics Dashboard

How Anyone can Build a Custom Data Analytics Dashboard

If you could carve out an hour a month for analysis in order to save a dozen hours of work, the one-hour investment would be worth it, right?

How about if that same hour led to crucial details about your sales trends and customers insights?

On top of all that, what if that same one-hour investment came at no additional cost to you?

Seems like a pretty great deal.

Welcome to the benefits of an Excel-based analytical dashboard.

Benefits of an Analytical Dashboard

You’ve most likely heard of the powers and benefits of data analytics. You’ve probably seen examples from things like POS systems, Tableau, cloud-based software, and many others.

Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Saving you time and money through efficiency and more impactful insights

Spending time looking over your dashboard saves hours of debating anecdotal or piecemeal results and helps guide you towards the best path forward

  • Giving you better insights into your customer to improve marketing campaigns

Campaigns based on hard data are more successful as you can target your intended customer more effectively

  • Taking the guesswork out and make great, data supported, decisions in less time

The high end services all have their merits, but in a small business where you might not have the budget for those services (which are also potentially far beyond the capabilities you actually need), plus a large learning curve, those services don’t always make the most sense.

By learning (on a much faster learning curve) to make a dashboard in Excel, you can get the benefits you want in a completely customized dashboard at no cost (since you already have Excel on your computer).

 

Why use Excel for this

Let’s start with some common business questions.

How did your sales do last month? How does that compare to the same month of the prior year? How about compared to the pace you’ve been running at this year?

Now how about separating those numbers by project, item, or client? How about by distribution channel? Sales rep? What about the specific days you had promotions?

The first set of questions is somewhat easy to have a gut feeling for, if nothing else. You might even have some quick analysis created for you in QuickBooks (or similar software).

However, the second set of questions represents another level deeper. You might feel a bit less confident about your gut feeling. They require you to dive into the data each time you want to look, and maybe even anecdotally piece it together from a few different sources. It’s kind of a hassle, but they’re important insights, so it’s worth the time.

Here’s the good news from Excel – you can answer all of those questions, from top line revenue down to whatever level of detail you need, and have them at your fingertips in one place!

With a simple export of data from whatever source you need, you can populate dozens of custom views that you’ve templated and turn it into your very own analytical dashboard!

The only time intensive piece is building the template and framework for all your custom views.

After you create that, you’re essentially just updating with data each week/month/etc. and looking it over for trends. Making changes to it? Duplicating views with variations? Actually, all pretty easy.

The Excel Dashboard

Here is a very quick sample dashboard that shows that topline sales numbers (black chart) followed by a few, slightly deeper, analytical pieces that help evaluate performance (gray charts).

When I say “very quick” … this dashboard took less than an hour to fully create. Real life dashboards of this level of depth take a similar amount of time. Getting significantly deeper into the data does not necessarily mean significantly more time to create though.

Only a few “next level” type questions are displayed (although these may only be half a level deeper), but they are meant to be representative, and the great feature about the “behind the scenes” of the dashboard is that the building blocks for all levels of analysis can be VERY easily duplicated to get at any question you need.

Take a quick look at the dashboard, follow it along the yellow markers, 1 to 5. Any trends jump out at you?

You can likely see the following in a quick pass:

  • Sales are up in 2019! (Callout #1) – by 22.1% if we want to be specific

  • There seemed to be a change in performance starting in February (Callout #2). Perhaps a new item was released? Or a new marketing campaign?

  • All Sales Reps are selling more this year (Callout #3). Shawn leading the pack with a 28.7% increase over 2018

  • In Store sales have grown by over 60%! (Callout #4). However, Online sales have shrunk a tiny bit.

  • Further diagnosing, it looks like Jennifer and Oliver have really improved their In Store sales, while Shawn has faltered there (Callout #5). Perhaps there was a training that stuck with Jennifer and Oliver? Maybe Shawn has just focused all of his attention on Online sales?

Those types of insights are crucial to running your business and can be seen quickly from the dashboard. On top of that, there are still tons of different ways to cut the data… by product, by product and distribution channel, by sales rep by month, etc. All of these examples are (almost) as easy as copying and pasting.

Creating the Backend of the Dashboard – a General Guide

We start with one of the building blocks of an Excel-based analytical dashboard. Simply, the Pivot Table.

Depending on your level of familiarity with Excel, Pivot Tables might seem like “that complicated next level” or “that tool we use every day”.

The truth is, everyone can easily be at the latter, and if you’re already there, you could probably be using them more even more effectively. Investing just a bit of time can have a very outsized benefit to your business.

Pivot Tables are fantastic, for all levels of users, because of a few main pieces of functionality:

  • Very easy to build, use, and manipulate

Drag and drop methods, no complex formulas, no macros or coding

  • Ability to create charts and dashboards from the Table(s) easily

  • Build automatically updating formulas off the Table to create new data elements

It deserves mentioning that the quality of your data is very important. If the data is wrong to start, then there is no point is doing any analysis.

First… a few tips on how to create a Pivot Table

Feel free to skip this section if you’re already familiar.

For a detailed “how to” build a Pivot Table, I recommend watching from ~2:30 to ~5:30 in this video. The rest of the video has some good explanations as well, but for a quick guide, the 3 minutes is really all you need.

One piece I would highly recommend changing though, is in the data selection piece.

Important – select the entire column in the data, making sure the headers are in row 1. This allows you to add data in the future and have it included in the pivot table without having to change the data range.

The boxed-in range is okay as “ Sample Data!$A$1:$E$13 ”, but would need to be changed if you add more data to the end of it. The better version’s range “ Sample Data!$A:$E” highlights the entire columns.

Onto Creating the Dashboard

Start with creating a Pivot Table, and from there it is really just about dragging and dropping fields, copying and pasting, and picking a layout!

  • Let’s say you begin by creating a simple Pivot Table with sales by month:

  • From there, go up to the ribbon and find the “Pivot Table Analyze” or “Analyze” tab, depending on which version of Excel you’re working with.

  • Select the “Pivot Chart” option, and out pops a variety of options. Select your favorite chart option (bar chart, line graph, multiple types, etc.) and boom! You’ve got a working chart to help you analyze!

  • Any time you change what’s in the Pivot Table that created the Pivot Chart, the Pivot Chart will change accordingly.

Example, if you limited the data to just “Jennifer” (Sales Rep filter), you’ll see only her sales in both the Table and Chart.

Tip for the aesthetics of the Chart

To get rid of the “buttons” or ugly looking gray bubbles polluting your chart, you can right click on any of them and select “Hide All Field Buttons on Chart” and they’ll go away (as shown below).

If you don’t mind their appearance, each button acts as a filter for the Pivot Table. So instead of scrolling over to the Table, you can filter right from the Chart.

  • From there it is just preferences:

You can add a chart title, hide the legend, and a lot of other customization by clicking on the Chart, and then selecting the green “+” button that appears to the right of the Chart (shown below).

Once you’ve got your first chart, you can then start the duplication process!
  • To make another Pivot Table and Chart combo, you can just select the entirety of the Table, then copy and paste it elsewhere on the sheet

Copying the Pivot Table to be replicated
  • Drag and drop the fields (from the Field List on the right) you want to look at in the new Table (ex. Sales Rep in place of Month), and then go through the same quick process to create a Chart

The premise here is that each Table you create is referencing the same data. Each variation is just how you want to cut the data for that particular view.

Note – the formatting you select for one chart will not transfer to a new chart. The easiest method is to pick from Excel’s preset templates, which are normally visually appealing enough – both the black and the gray Charts above are in Excel’s preset templates. You can always customize the look of every chart individually to how you want though.

Best practice is probably to settle on a color scheme and layout after you’ve created all the charts you want, that way you can quickly go through each and select the same layout all at once.

After creating however many variations that get to your necessary level of depth, you’ve now just created yourself a dashboard! Congrats!

Best Way to Create Formulas Based on the Tables to get Additional Metrics in your Dashboard

You may notice that some pieces in the above dashboard (the tables with headers that have blue background and white text) are not Pivot Tables or Pivot Charts. These are created using the same information though.

Enter the GETPIVOTDATA formula. It is one of the most complicated looking formulas, but one of the most effective to use.

Note that it is simply complicated “looking”, but not actually that complicated to use.

Here’s an example. We’re going to walk through the Sales By Month table in the dashboard above (and referenced below).

Let’s say you wanted to get that 41.1% “Growth vs Prior Yr” for Feb from the information in the Pivot Table.

Naturally, you would do the following (referencing picture below) U10 / T10 – 1 = 41.1%

When you go to do that though, this scary looking formula comes out:

Let’s break it down and look at the first piece, before the “/”:

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

Translating, it is saying the following:

  • From the Pivot Table

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Grab the metric “Sale Amount”

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • In the Pivot Table located in cell S7

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Given the following criteria, Year = 2019

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,“Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • And the second criteria Month = Feb

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,“Month”,”Feb”)

You’ll notice the second GETPIVOTDATA (after the “/”) is the same formula, just referencing Year = 2018 instead of 2019.

It is the same formula as the nice and easy U10 / T10 – 1 above, just bringing in the functionality of the Pivot Table.

So why on earth would you actually use the complicated version?

Reason #1: Let’s say you add in another filter and the bulk of the Pivot Table shifts down by one row. The U10 / T10 – 1 will remain but will now be looking at a different month.

Reason #2: What if you changed the Pivot Table to include each Sales Rep’s details in each month (like below)?

Now that “U10 / T10 – 1” formula would be referencing Jennifer’s sales in Jan… not even close to total Feb sales.

If you used the GETPIVOTDATA formula, you would still get the result you want (Total Feb Sales Amount, 2019 over 2018) because you’re telling it what criteria to look at, regardless of what cells the intended data ended up in. It would still do $26,070 / $18,470 – 1, or 41.1%.

Note – in a scenario like the above picture, make sure Subtotals are enabled in the “Design” tab that appears when you click in the Pivot Table

Reason #3: You can completely customize the look of your created table, whereas you have limited aesthetic flexibility in the Pivot Table itself. I choose a blue header with white text.

Reason #4: You retain the copy and paste functionality of the “U10 / T10 – 1” formula but increase the accuracy of the formula.

Notice in our summary chart with each month’s “Growth vs Prior Yr”, we have the month abbreviation in the left column, then the % growth in the right column.

To utilize the copy and paste functionality of formulas in Excel, we just have to reference the month in the formula.

It is the same formula as above in every way except for the P9 in place of “Feb”. This just tells the formula to take the value in cell P9 as the criteria needed to be found in the “Month” section.
You can then copy and paste this formula to each of the months, and the “Growth vs Prior Yr” will fill out for each month, regardless of how many other variables are in the Pivot Table, or where the numbers you want are located (cell-wise).

Summary

So now you’ve learned…

  • The benefits of a dashboard, specifically one in Excel

  • How to make a Pivot Table

  • How to make a Pivot Chart based off it

  • How to duplicate those efforts (for efficiency)

  • How to reference the information in it to get analytical metrics that aren’t directly called out in the Pivot Table

  • (Most importantly) How to build your own fully functional, completely customizable analytical dashboard!

Updating the dashboard is an exercise that takes mere minutes to download the data and add it into your data sheet.

Reasonable time investment to make the dashboard, small time investment to update it, big business benefits.