Tag Archives: CMO

WIMS Client Spotlight: Stephanie Higgins Fit

Stephanie Higgins Fit provides professional, certified fitness and nutrition programs designed to help you reach and maintain your health and fitness goals. There is no one size fits all dietary approach. That’s why she is here to give you the plan that’s meant for you. She will help you set your goals up for success!

Stephanie Higgins Fit has customized plans for all women and even has specific plans designed for pregnant women ranging from the prenatal to postpartum stages. She offers Premier, Platinum, Prenatal, and Postpartum plans that are sure to get you on the right track physically and mentally. She is based out of South Carolina but has the ability to work with you virtually no matter where you are located!

Check out her website at https://www.stephaniehigginsfit.com/ to see how you can get on track to becoming your best self.

WIMS Client Spotlight: Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance

The Greater Charlotte Hospitality & Tourism Alliance (HTA) has been the premier voice of our region’s hospitality & tourism industry since it was established by the leaders of the industry in 1994. Over the years, the HTA’s leadership has been vital in efforts that have made our region a premier destination.

They are proud to have been a major part of developing the Charlotte Convention Center, Spectrum Arena, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, $200 million Arts & Cultural Complex, the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Charlotte Knights Baseball Stadium, the development of the $42M Matthews Regional Sportsplex, the renovation of Mecklenburg County’s Aquatic Center, the Carolina Panthers’ (Bank of America) stadium upgrade, the planned $35 million renovation of Memorial Stadium and many other initiatives which have made the Charlotte region a great travel, event, and convention destination.

Looking ahead, the HTA will be assisting with bringing the 2022 NFL Draft, 2023 ACC Basketball Tournament, 2024 Democratic National Convention, 2024-2030 CIAA Tournament, 2025 PGA Championship, and 2026 Super Bowl to Charlotte.

The top priorities of the HTA are to help members grow their business, encourage tourism and economic development projects, and support community and region-wide initiatives. With the goal of creating the best informational and networking events in the Charlotte area, HTA’s relationship building meetings and events have annually included:

  • Quarterly General Meetings
  • HTA’s Annual Dinner & Gala Event
  • HTA’s Annual Business Showcase
  • Annual Candidate’s Reception
  • Spring, Summer, and Autumn Golf Tournaments

The HTA is proud to have served a large variety of businesses in the Charlotte area for more than two decades, proud of their vast accomplishments, and honored to have the most active members as indicated by their remarkably well attended and successful events. Their members’ active involvement is a reward for the work done on their behalf and a testament to the value of an HTA membership.

If you are interested in joining a business development organization whose mission is to “help its members grow their business,” check out their newly designed website by visiting www.charlottehta.com or call the HTA office directly at (704) 331-0079.

WIMS Client Spotlight: TRUROOF

At TRUROOF, they are trusted because they work in responsible ways to fulfill what they understand to be each customer’s desire for their home or business. TRUSTED, RESPONSIBLE AND UNDERSTANDING are more than words, they are standards that TRUROOF demonstrates every day.

  • They are trusted because they provide the professional, visual, and technical evidence necessary for you to understand your roof’s condition and the process that makes it possible to obtain a new roof through the insurance restoration process.
  • They are responsible for your entire roof replacement from start to finish. Their team of professionals shoulders the burden of identifying your roof’s condition, working with your insurance company to get you the roof you deserve, installing your new roof and providing the warranty that will protect you for years to come.
  • They understand what you want because they listen. This is not a simple transaction. It is a relationship that gives them the opportunity to serve you with their professional 5-star service to provide value and protection for your home or business.

They begin with the initial 100% complimentary no obligation roof inspection and property damage assessment, bringing your roof down to you with inspection photos and video, filing the claim together, meeting with insurance adjuster to ensure you receive everything you deserve, shouldering the burden and taking full responsibility for the insurance claims process, reviewing and choosing your specific roofing products and color, and fulfilling the most important stage of the process…the installation of your new roof.

They do not believe in pressure or sales tactics. They practice what they communicate…the details matter. Being proactive to protect your investment with a 100% no obligation roof inspection allows them the opportunity to serve you and your family with the details that matter for you.

To set up a roof inspection or property damage assessment, visit their website at https://www.truroof.com/ or give them a call at +1 803.TRU.ROOF.

WIMS Client Spotlight: Let It Ride

Let It Ride is a new DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) app and website launching soon that was created behind the efforts of former Panthers receiver and North Carolina native Brenton Bersin. It is soon to hit the app store.

Let It Ride is an easy to use sports gaming platform for everyone. The platform focuses on the most exciting sports games: including player prop parlays, along with other picking pool competitions. With a competitive spirit, gamers can compete against the house or other users.

Their main game is Let It Ride, where users (you) pick from multiple player prop over/unders in an effort to get 3 correct, 5 correct, or 7 correct. If you choose any incorrectly, you lose your wager. If you get them all correct, you win. If you correctly pick 3, you have the option to cash out and end your ride, or let it ride in an effort to get 2 more correct to get to a parlay of 5. You then have the option again to cash out and end your ride at 5, or try and get to 7 correct. The longer the ride, the higher the payout.

Other games include:

  • DA$H is LIR’s spin on a lottery type game. DA$H is a pool type game where the the 1st user to get 20 picks in a row correct without getting one wrong, wins the jackpot.
  • OUTLA$T is our spin on a survivor pool. Located within the LIR app. Users will join pools of all different sizes and parameters. Competing head-to-head against other users. Each pool  offers different styles and reward.
  • PUR$E is LIR’s golf focused game. Choose by pool size or entry fee amount. In all pools, the user picks 10 golfers to make their lineup. Unlike other DFS apps, there is no salary cap, so the user can choose whoever they want. If they want the 10 best golfers in the tournament by World Ranking, they can pick them. This makes this game easy for all people to play.

Visit their website https://www.letitride.app/ to subscribe to to the wait list to receive early offers and follow the journey from the ground up. They are also launching a funding round shortly to continue growing and scaling, more details to come, send an email here if you’re interested in learning more about it, or you can visit this link as well.

They are also seeking early adopters to act as affiliates who will receive commission and other income opportunities. If you are interested in applying, click here.

5 Ways Family Offices Can Optimize for the Present & Future

Over the past 50 years, the amount of family offices has grown to an estimated 3,500-5,000 as ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors have increasingly used this approach to leverage and manage their wealth. Whether it be through Single-Family Offices (SFO’s), Multi-Family Offices (MFO’s), or a combination of both through syndication, wealthy families have seen the advantages of customized structures that meet specific needs and go much more in-depth than just financial investments.

With family offices varying in size, scope, purpose, and operation, it’s impossible to define the specific actions family offices should take, but it is possible to highlight key themes and challenges that most family offices face and offer advice on how to deal with common situations that arise. The increased level of sophistication for these investors has created a need for constant communication and transparency to ensure everyone involved in deals is on the same page and held accountable to achieve the desired results.

 

Vision – Clearly Communicate Goals to Foster Alignment

Family offices need to communicate their goals and alignment to all players involved, from their internal teams to management at their portfolio companies and everyone in between. With varying scopes of family offices, the common goals tend to surround income, total assets, and legacy. There is a varying degree to which these topics are discussed and articulated among family offices. Mapping out priorities that articulate the desired purpose and direction for the family’s wealth will encourage proper decision making and the right strategy. The proper structure of the family office can then ensure that governance framework, operating processes, teams, and advisors are set up in a way to support the family office’s purpose and values to achieve specific goals. Further, it will help identify the right KPIs/metrics to track and measure against as well.

 

Operations – Set up the Proper Delegation of Duties

Once everyone knows and embraces their role, family offices can then fill in the gaps where they need help, making the whole process much simpler and clearer. These gaps can be filled through streamlining operations via outsourcing. Outsourcing to specialized agencies not only provides expertise and more eyes on what matters, but it also allows family office executives to focus on the areas they’re passionate about.

 

Deal Flow – The More Opportunities That Come Your Way the Better (if it is manageable)

The best deals typically come through referrals, but there are also plenty of solid opportunities that come in via cold calls, emails, pitch events, or online databases stacked with potential investments. No matter the source, access to these deals is paramount to succeeding in the private investing world. A few sources we have found useful are AngelList, PitchBook, LinkedIn, CrunchBase, etc.

In more of a nontraditional move, family offices can also find deals and collaborate through equity crowdfunding. A capital raise can start as Reg CF and later convert a round to Reg A. Start-ups are increasingly seeing the value in crowdfunding to raise initial capital as it helps to validate their business model and market fit. With less regulation than private equity, investors can also benefit from getting involved and take more ownership of great ideas at an early stage.

 

Syndicate Investments to Reduce Risk, Increase Upside, and Achieve Economies of Scale

Most family offices already co-invest through syndication with other family offices. Yet this only increases the need for transparency from all firms involved: the family offices, their teams, portfolio companies, and any outsourced agencies that are involved in establishing a smoother operation. Syndicating deals allows you to reduce the downside by committing less capital, it increases the amount of relationships/resources that the target company can leverage, and it also enables each family office/fund to be able to split expenses when appropriate.

Finding and deploying the right consulting firm is a key example of this, due to the essential need for trust and objective parties when dealing with a large amount of wealth from a small number of sources. If family offices do choose to outsource certain operational functions (like marketing, sales, finance, etc.), a firm that provides constant communication and quick action to resolve issues is necessary. With the right external agency, family offices can concentrate on the roles that align with their purpose and passion with respect to running a successful operation. Not to mention, they save even more capital by not having to hire full-time positions to do what these outsourced specialists have been doing well for years.

 

Succession Planning – Always Keep an Eye on the Future

Succession is one event that family offices must have even though it can be uncomfortable. Having a contingency plan in place allows for smooth transitions and operational stability across the board when the time comes. This could mean planning for the transition from one generation of principal(s) to the next, or from one family office executive to the next. CEO’s tend to be in their position for an average of approximately 5 years. For family offices, managing directors and executives tend to hold these offices for 10 years as they have established a rapport with the investor families. This means that much more of the operations are in the hands of the family office executives than in traditional businesses.

When succession occurs with these individuals, it can be tough for the family office to stay on course if objectives and procedures have not been communicated. Understanding the role of the family, the family office, the portfolio companies, and any external firms in the event of succession is key in mitigating risks and obstacles that can cause disruption. With less regulation and oversight regarding practices of family offices, a lot more is done on an informal basis, leading to the possibility of overlooking key operations. With a clear and defined plan, it provides an easier transition when any type of succession inevitably occurs.

 

Conclusion

As you look to scale your operations, investments, and grow, there are clearly a variety of routes to take. The key is determining the route that best fits your family office’s vision, the portfolio companies you want to invest in, and then ensuring that all parties involved, whether in-house or external, all understand and are committed to executing it.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs.

 

THE PRIMARY MISSION OF WIMS CONSULTING IS TO HELP YOUR FUND AND ITS PORTFOLIO COMPANIES GENERATE A HIGHER ROI NOT ONLY INTERNALLY, BUT ON BEHALF OF YOUR INVESTORS AS WELL. WE CAN ASSIST WITH SCALING YOUR INVESTMENTS TO HELP INCREASE VALUATIONS IN ADVANCE OF ADDITIONAL FUNDING ROUNDS, LIQUIDITY EVENTS, EXITS, OR IPOs. WE CAN PROVIDE A LOT OF DIFFERENT SERVICES, CREATE AND IMPLEMENT A ROBUST STRATEGY, AND EXECUTE EACH TACTIC, BUT EVERYTHING THAT WE DO TRULY BOILS DOWN TO THAT ONE SINGLE OBJECTIVE OF ADDING MORE VALUE TO YOUR FIRM.

Private Investment Funds in 2021: Focus on Optimizing & Streamlining Existing Portfolio Company Investments to Grow amid Volatility

The whirlwind of 2020 rattled businesses across the country, and it was no different for the private investment/fund industries. Even prior to last year, trends were moving toward funds (private equity, venture capital, family office, etc.) establishing platforms that focused on a suite of key business functions, such as business development, marketing, finance, PR, etc. to assist their portfolio companies with scaling their operations. Some funds have stood up internally1, while others have engaged external strategic partnerships.

In the first half of 2020, a slowdown in new deals was caused partly by valuation discrepancies between buyers and sellers, resulting in a 63% decrease in activity in the Americas region2 after the onset of COVID-19. According to a PitchBook report, U.S. private equity exits dropped by 70% (1st 6 months of 2020 compared to year-ago period) because private equity firms marked down portfolio companies; they chose to hold investments rather than sell them3. Although this may sound alarming, a study by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson showed that despite a drop in exit transactions in the first half of 2020, there is little evidence of forced exits at least3. Furthermore, private equity firms raised $348 billion in the same time frame, which is only 10% shy of what they raised during the first half of 20192.

If funds have the capital raised but are not deploying it because of the risk of an unfavorable valuation or investment, the question must be raised: what have they been doing in the meantime?

In addition to simply boosting investments for current portfolio companies, funds are increasing aid in the strategic side of these businesses as well. “Increasing returns during ongoing fiscal and geopolitical uncertainty pushed top executives from PE firms to maintain focus on value and digitalization, and a commitment to developing the organizational and business models of their portfolio companies.”4 Many funds have turned to delegating these duties to outside firms.

Outsourcing operations, sales, marketing, and other core functions provides a new perspective for funds. With another set of eyes on current investments, funds can squeeze every penny of revenue out of their portfolio companies to boost chances of success. Outsourcing allows current portfolio companies access to the same professional team as their fund, which consolidates consultants, agencies, people, and expenses for a more efficient operation filtered through a single entity.

Furthermore, with investment funds specializing to extreme degrees these days1, funds can focus on what they have specialized in, while letting the collaborative agency facilitate other aspects of the business. This allows them to keep the main thing the main thing so they can keep investors happy and informed, as well as assist their portfolio companies with more high value activities.

Not only does outsourcing provide more expertise with experienced professionals, but it tends to cost less than hiring someone within the fund or directly at the portfolio companies to manage these responsibilities. VC start-ups are staying private for an average of eight years longer than they would have back in 2000. It only makes sense to provide them with an experienced team for business development, marketing, and more. Without a team, the firm must manage all of this themselves or, for example, hire a business development manager. The average venture capital business development manager salary is nearly $80,000, not to mention additional benefits and expenses. Eight additional years of paying this salary (not including escalators and other contractual advancements) raises that investment to $640,000 allocated towards one person, when a team of experts can be hired to do an even better job.

Over the last decade, the appeal of going public has decreased as companies do not want to deal with inevitable scrutiny after releasing financials and other information. There has actually even been a shift of public companies switching back to private, with 8 out of 10 of the largest buyouts being Public 2 Private (P2P)4. Many companies would rather stay private, or be bought out through M&A, than to receive heat from the public. If a start-up does not go public, having that business development manager can continue as a growing yearly expense (regardless of value), even if the business isn’t in a growth or blitzscaling stage. Similar to the recession from a decade ago, companies are thinning out and hiring more contractors because it is a more manageable and flexible commitment.

Further along this line, “We are starting to see some changes that may signal a strategy shift by private equity to help struggling portfolio companies amid the crisis. Additional stake purchases by private equity investors are up by count and volume compared to same period last year and second- and third-round funding’s are also up from last year. Both are ways to inject cash into companies that need it most now.”5

In volatile times, more of the focus should be on what can be controlled. “Leaders should identify digital innovations such as business intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, and business processes automation to help companies evolve and gain the skills needed for better performance and outpacing the competitors.”4

While not every business model is 100% perfect, and there are pros and cons to each, there are certainly many advantages both financially and operationally to leveraging a consulting firm to assist funds and their portfolio companies with scaling. Regardless of whether the macro environment is volatile and capital is tougher to come by, or when conditions are great and capital is flowing freely, running a tight ship focused on streamlining, growth, and ROI will always be in style and appreciated.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs

References:

1) https://tomtunguz.com/is-venture-capital-worth-the-risk/

2) https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1mqkqqx3g0k5v/Private-Equity-s-Answer-to-a-Frozen-Deal-Market

3) https://www.pionline.com/private-equity/private-equity-deals-tumble-20-2020s-first-half-pitchbook

4) https://bspeclub.com/2020/04/17/private-equity-2020-outlook-the-start-of-a-new-decade/

5) https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberg-law-analysis/analysis-how-is-private-equity-optimizing-the-downturn

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.

WIMS Consulting for Funds & Investors: Private Equity, Family Office, Venture Capital & Their Portfolio Companies

Your Fund and its Portfolio Companies’ Future Partner for

Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations, Investor Relations, Development, & More.

Your Private Equity, Venture Capital, or Family Office fund is undoubtedly already great at its core functions. Between raising funds, selecting the right portfolio companies to deploy capital to, and managing the day to day operations we suspect that you’ve got those things covered, or at least you have a solid handle on them.

Where we come in is supporting your fund and its portfolio companies with everything else.

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.

Our approach and work product is all meant to be measurable, KPI (Key Performance Indicator) focused, metrics-based, results-oriented, and top and bottom line enhancing. We are dedicated to staying ahead of the curve by always learning the latest and most innovative best practices along with the most efficient way to implement them.

The role we can play will vary based on your fund/company’s existing and/or desired structure. WIMS Consulting can function as various fully outsourced departments, or as your external CMO, Head of Sales, CFO, support team, etc. Or we can simply act as a consultant/solutions provider on a specific project.

It is our aim to provide concierge level service and be the “easy button” you press when you just need and want to focus on your core functions yet need to get everything else done too.

 

Our Value Proposition the reason we will make a great partner to your fund and its portfolio companies’:

  • Deploy us to help manage and scale your portfolio companies’ in any of the areas we highlight throughout our practice areas.

  • Consolidate various consultants, departments, service providers, and bring under one firm to help streamline operations, maximize areas of expertise, and achieve economies of scale.

  • We help aggregate data across a variety of sources, filter it, and convert these metrics into a compelling story to ensure your investors, board members, management, and stakeholders remain informed and happy with progress across the entire fund and its portfolio companies.

    • Further, when the desired results aren’t achieved and adjustments do need to be made, we ensure that story is told as well, along with preemptively bringing potential solutions to the table.

  • We are entrepreneurs ourselves, yet also worked in the corporate world too. We’ve operated and grown businesses and we’ve led funding rounds. We’ve worked with and for funds directly too. Our team has acquired quite a bit of experience across a variety of stages in the growth cycle of companies and across many industries as well.

Our Services Include:

  • Marketing Strategy & Implementation

    • Fractional CMO

    • Website Development​

    • Marketing Automation

    • Creative – Content Creation & Distribution

    • Data Analytics

  • Sales – Bus Dev/CRM Strategy & Implementation

    • Salesforce.com, Zoho CRM, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, and more.​

    • Lead Generation

    • Sales Strategy and Deployment

  • Finance & Accounting

    • ​Fractional CFO​​

    • Financial Modeling & Forecasting

    • Financial Reporting

    • Accounting & Bookkeeping

  • Operations & Support

    • Investor Relations​

    • Project Management

    • Administrative Support

  • Software & Platform Development

    • Full Stack Software & Platform Development​

    • Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Platform & Application Development

    • AI & Machine Learning

Visit our website for more information or to set up a call.

 

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue

The WIMS Consulting 2020 Rebrand

There is just something about transition, a new decade (even though January 1st seems like it was already another decade ago), and a new mission to undergo a massive scaling of one’s company that requires a bit of a shakeup. Huge transformative shifts force all involved to level up and evolve for the better. They demand a heightened sense of commitment to excellence and discipline.

As they say, the things that got you here will rarely get you there.

The first 6 years of WIMS Consulting have been great, the company has grown double digits every single year (with 2 years at triple), and despite the state of the market, this year is already on track to achieve exponential growth compared to last year (in fact it economy appears to be helping it along even more as companies go all-in on digital). That said, I have still been playing too small and remain far from where I want the company to be yet. It is time to ramp things way up and kick things up another notch.

A rebrand is often mostly symbolic, it is a way to re-engineer how you would like the public to see and perceive your company, and to re-calibrate the first impression for those that do not know you yet. It also allows you to set the tone for current and future employees, partners, and clients. It is an opportunity to recommit and reestablish your values of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Up until this point we have been far from perfect and have certainly underdone some growing pains along the way. As difficult as it is to admit, not every single client project has exceeded expectations for one reason or another. On the flip side plenty of them have gone really well too. Regardless of which side the responsibility lies solely with us for better or worse. Moving forward, that level of accountability and transparency must be the standard. A rebrand is a way to draw a line in the sand, a demarcation to demonstrate that whatever happened before going forward this is the way we will do business no matter what.

Now for a little background and insight on the creative. The spartan warrior is a deeply personal symbol to me since I was young. For one, I grew up attending a school called Milton Hershey (from kindergarten to graduation), and it was our mascot. We learned about their culture and their values (mostly the romanticized and positive version, not as much of the negatives side of it).

Then when I watched the movie 300, wow what an impact it made. To see a group of soldiers, and a King no less, willingly sacrifice themselves with such honor and grace for the good of their tribe, it really stuck with me. I know it was embellished a bit as all movies are, but that didn’t take away from the impression it left.

Between Milton Hershey and the culture resonating so much throughout my life I even got a tattoo of the spartan helmet. For those reasons and others, it sounded like a great place to start when considering what I wanted my company to look like.

Fortunately, when leveraging history to inspire the future you can learn from, and remove, the negatives in order to improve upon an ideal, allowing you to adopt the things that translate. Further, WIMS Consulting is not adopting ALL their values after all (for one we are very much capitalists). “The word “spartan” means self-restrained, simple, frugal, and austere” plus they were clearly pretty violent and brutal. So again, it is not exactly a direct comparison.

The positive side, such as their discipline, commitment, team-oriented collaboration and community are things you build a company around. Others include being strategic, thoughtful, well organized, and assertive. They were creative in their approach to problem solving. The soldiers in their army were only as strong as the person standing next to them and the collective unit as a whole. They tempered the potentially corrosive nature of outsized individual egos. They played offense and defense equally well. They had an unwavering obligation to do whatever necessary to achieve a desired outcome.

Now THAT is what I want the WIMS Consulting cultural values to represent and embody. I want the company to uphold its commitment and dedication to its community (clients, employees, and partners) to that standard of excellence every single day and in every single project and task. This is the mindset required that will subsequently lead to producing outstanding work and deliverables for our clients. It certainly won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing really is.

Hopefully, we nailed that impression and give this perception with the logo and throughout the supplemental components of the branding. More importantly however, is that we maintain the standards and values in a clear and tangible way. Stay tuned for more, but I would love to hear what you think so far!

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue     WIMS Consulting Logo Gold

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.

Entrepreneurs Zoho CRM

Entrepreneurs! Are You Aware of the Latest Offerings from Zoho CRM?

Forget what you think you know about CRM programs. It’s time for you to rethink the entire idea that you’ve been holding onto for years now. You know, that they’re too expensive, too complicated, and not useful enough to justify tackling those challenges. It’s just not true anymore. I understand why you think that way, but until you’ve seen the latest software package that Zoho CRM has been rolling out it’s simply misguided. Allow me to enlighten you a bit.

While I remain a raving Salesforce fan, I’m not going to suggest you take on a CRM program of that magnitude (unless your enterprise fits a certain set of criteria). I still love HubSpot as well but will save that for another post. Right now, I’m here to inform you about the crazy new suite from Zoho that you must at least take a few minutes to check out. If you’re a solo entrepreneur/freelancer, or you have all the way up to 25 employees it will help revolutionize and scale your business like crazy.

Now I was already geeking out a couple months ago when they launched Zoho One. But then they went ahead and added too more applications the other day which literally blew my mind. Zoho Flow “automates business workflows by connecting your apps. You can build smart integrations to break the information silos in your business.” This works for both internal Zoho apps and external ones as well, think Zapier or IFTTT. The other is Zoho PageSense, which is “the Complete A/B Testing and Website Optimization Software. Get ready to increase website conversions and skyrocket your revenue.”

Now, for transparency purposes I must inform you that a large part of my business is built around assisting companies of all sizes and industries to build and implement CRM programs like these. BUT, I legitimately use this one for my own business. It not only has helped me to get better organized with project management and more efficient and streamlined from an operations perspective but leveraging it has tangibly helped me to grow the revenue of my business significantly as well. I’m all about automating as much as possible and these new features allow you to do just that.

If you want to explore what incorporating a CRM program would look like for your business, reach out to me and I’d be thrilled to assist. Whether it’s Zoho or one of the many other incredible programs out there, we can certainly get you on the right track to implementing it correctly to start demonstrating ROI asap.

Before moving forward, to get a better idea of what all they have to offer, take a look at how they articulate it:

Zoho One is a revolutionary all-in-one suite to run your entire business—an unprecedented 35+ integrated applications on one account, with complete administrative control—for a price that will change the way you think about buying software.

Zoho One includes applications with complementary mobile apps so you can run your entire business on one suite. This is the real deal here: You’re getting full-featured, enterprise editions of the entire Zoho suite. That means being able to reach customers, grow sales, balance your books, and work in productive and collaborative ways from any device—all with a single login and password.

Zoho One connects your sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, and more, while also giving you contextual integrations to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, customers, and vendors. With an integrated suite like Zoho One, you’ll always have the right information in the right places, empowering your employees to do great work. Traditionally, this has required an astronomical IT budget and an army of consultants to force everything together. Zoho One makes all that cost and complexity a thing of the past.

Zoho One is enhanced by Zoho’s growing developer ecosystem, marketplace extensions, and global partner network. We’ve made Zoho One extendable so our technology partners can customize our applications to meet your unique needs, across a broad set of industries. These custom apps and extensions of our already powerful applications are made available to you through our Marketplace. Meanwhile, our 1,000+ implementation and training partners are available to help you locally as needs arise.