Four Excel Tools You Can Use
Photo by jenn_jenn.
I recently concluded a series of articles on New Year’s Planning. And here we are, in the New Year, and I have it on good authority that some of you still haven’t created your 2009 client acquisition plan.
I’m also hearing that there are some freelancers who have yet to do an annual budget.
We’ll start with client acquisition. I’ve created a free Excel application that will allow you to track your efforts. Download the 10 Business-Building Tools Tracker file and open it in Excel. Since it’s in Read-Only format, save the file under a different filename so you can work with it.
Here’s how you can use the 10 Business-Building Tools Tracker:
I’ve set it up so that it tracks the 10 tools that I’m using. I’ve also included the goals I’ve set for 2009.
You’ll notice that the Tracker spreadsheet is color-coded according to the impact that each tool has on your business. These impacts are discussed in-depth in CJ Hayden’s excellent book, Get Clients Now.
Now, let’s break those tools down according to their impacts:
Outreach – The Green Tools
- Cold calls and e-mails. You can itemize these according to how many messages you left, the number of “no” answers you got, and the number of people who were intrigued enough to request further information.
- Warm calls and e-mails. Same itemization as the cold calls and e-mails.
- Meetings with sales prospects. You may have uncovered these prospects through your cold and warm calls and e-mails. Or maybe they responded to an online ad. Or maybe they were referred to you.
- Proposals prepared for sales prospects. In an ideal world, every meeting will end in a proposal prepared for a prospect. And then the prospect accepts your proposal and you get to work. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. So, set your proposal goal lower than your meeting goal. You’re going to find that some of your meetings will be with prospects who aren’t as qualified as you originally thought.
Increasing Visibility – The Yellow Tools
- Attend meetings and events. I count both business and community meetings in this category. Reason: You never know where your next prospect will come from. Could be from that Chamber of Commerce mixer. Or it might be from that free concert at the city park.
- Forum posts and blog comments.
- Blog posts.
Increasing Credibility – The Blue Tools
- Entering award competitions.
- Distribute newsletters to your clients and prospects.
- Making public presentations.
What if you don’t want to use tools I’ve laid out? Well, go into that Excel file and edit it! Same goes for my goals. You’re free to set yours higher or lower.
However, I do recommend that you keep the cold and warm calling and e-mailing tools in place. Yes, I am asking you to do outreach that will result in hundreds, if not thousands of people saying no to you. But, in the midst of all those no answers, you’re going to get some people saying yes. They may not come right away, but they will come.
Know what else happens when thousands of people say no to you? Well, you’ll develop a level of fearlessness that you never had before. You’ll be boldly going forth with contacts that you never thought you would make. (Did I mention that I’ve been emailing the White House to offer suggestions for improving its new website?)
Okay, you’ve edited the 10 Business-Building Tools Tracker to suit your own needs. Know what else you did? You just created a client acquisition plan with numerical goals.
Now, it’s time to play a game. For lack of a better name, let’s call it “Use The Tracker.” Every time you do something that you’re tracking, enter a number.
For example, if you made 22 cold calls, and they resulted in 10 messages left, six people saying no, and six others requesting further information, go to the appropriate month and day and log your messages, the awful “nos”, and the information requests. Excel will automatically sum your cold calling efforts to that aforementioned number 22. Or let’s say that you attended two meetings in one day. Enter the numeral 2 in the appropriate month and day.
I’ll bet that watching your numbers add up will motivate you to do even more business promotion. And that’s a game that you can’t help but enjoy.
Now, on to your budget. I’ve created three tools that will help you speed up this process. Here they are:
- Projected income statement for your business. I’ve left the profit centers for you to fill in. On the expense side, I’ve included items that you’ll probably be spending money on your business. Feel free to modify this file to suit your needs.
- Cost of Doing Business calculator. An income statement doesn’t cover every expense that you’ll incur. For example, if you’re a sole proprietor taking a draw in order to pay yourself, that’s not going to show up on the income statement. Same goes for that money that you, a sole proprietor, are setting aside for taxes, equipment purchases, and retirement savings. (The accounting rules are different for freelance businesses that are incorporated.) To capture the effect of these “phantom expenditures” on your business, use a Cost of Doing Business Calculator. It will help you figure your business’s break-even point. And you’ll probably find that you’ll need much more profit than what you projected on your income statement. (And how are you going to earn that profit? Time to don your thinking cap…)
- Projected income statement for you. Yup, it’s time to start treating your personal life as a business. And, as before, feel free to modify this file to suit your needs.
Note: The four tools described in this article are offered free of charge without warranty. However, you can modify them and use them as you see fit. Hope they’re useful to you!