How To Make Money From Excel

CAN YOU MAKE A CAREER FROM YOUR EXCEL SKILLS?

If you’ve spent time building your Excel / Excel VBA skills, you might be wondering how Excel could push your career forward. How could you monetise your Excel skills? Could you create a part-time income from Excel VBA development, or could you even build a business around Excel? Welcome to How To Make Money From Excel!

In this series, I share my experience of 10 years building a business around Excel VBA. To help you better understand how Excel can push forward your career, we will explore 7 topics, across a 14-day period, from marketing your Excel skills to choosing the right people to work with and scaling a micro-sized business.

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Each topic is supported by a static video and a livestream for you to interact with Chris and video viewers and discuss each topic, live! Yes, this 14-day course is structured around alternating livestreams (7) and static video (7) releases. But there is more: I have prepared forms for you to complete (naturally, these are Excel-based), one for each topic, to force you to commit some of your ideas to paper, which makes it more likely you’ll take action and move towards monetising your Excel skills.

Video 1 – Do I Need To Know Everything In Excel?

I argue that too many people spend too much time trying to learn ‘all’ of Excel. I have two problems with this: first – it’s impossible to master every function in Excel, such is the power and complexity of the software; second, mastering just one area of Excel is more than enough to start to make money from Excel. In fact, it can be counter-productive to know too much: you want to become the go-to guy not just for Excel, but for a particular problem related to its usage.

In the video, I point out five areas that you could focus on to push your career forward using Excel. The truth is, I have not mastered all five of these. In fact, I don’t think I have ‘mastered’ any, but I have developed competence in 3-4. Moreover, I understand that, as we will learn through this course, there are more important skills at play than formulae and coding. Yes, it’s not just about the technical stuff!

Make sure you download the support file and start thinking about which of these five areas could help you start monetising your Excel skills. See you in tomorrow’s livestream!

Click here to download the support file for this video.

Video 2 – How Should I Market My Excel Skills?

No matter how ‘good’ you are at Excel, you have to be able to market yourself in order to freelance successfully or even grow a small business. In this video, I outline 5 things that you have to do in order to start making money out of your Excel / Excel VBA skills.

1) Be The Excel Guy
Tell people you love solving problems in Excel. Start close to home; in fact, start literally in your home by telling your family or housemates that if they have an Excel problem, they should come to you. Then work from there!

2) Create Online Content
Yes, you have to be creating free content. It does not have to be video (podcasts are a big growth area at the moment) and the content does not have to be ‘polished’ – you could document the process of starting as an Excel freelancer on your smartphone, for example.

3) Overdeliver On a Project
If you can complete the first two steps and deploy some patience, enquiries will follow. Yes, a project! This is the most important project you have ever done; make sure you complete it to the best of your ability and that your client is happy.

4) Promote Your Success
Now is the time to tell the world about your Excel project (3). Can you get shareable feedback (if not, why not?) from the client to add realism? Disseminate on the platform you have already established, however modest it may be at present. Tell anybody else who will listen, too!

5) Be Patient And Strategic
This is going to take time and you need to have a strategy for dealing with tough times and negative emotions. If you can deploy patience and take a strategic perspective, however, the rewards are significant. Good luck!

Click here to download the support file for this video.

Video 3 – How To Manage A First Client Meeting?

A prospective client meeting can be nerve-wracking! In this video, I outline 5 points to help you make your first client meeting a success.

1) Be Nice
Unfashionable though it might be in the current business and political climate, being nice is important. In fact, I believe you only have to do two things in business: be competent and be good to be around.

2) It’s Not About You
Yes, it’s great to have a client meeting! But the only way you can succeed from now is to convince the client that the project is about them. Have at least some questions prepared.

3) Translate To Techniques
Probably the most difficult part of a prospective client meeting is live translation: the process of understanding what the customer tells you and matching it to available Excel techniques (that you can actually use!) It’s tricky, but it gets better with experience.

4) Technical Stuff Doesn’t Matter
Yes, we love VBA and the host of other cool functions that Excel offers, but your client probably is not interested. Focus on how the techniques save time, money and stress for their business.

5) Leave Costings Until The End
Know your costing strategy; but, only bring up the subject when it is absolutely clear how the project will help the client organisation.

Click here to download the support file for this video.

Video 4 – How To Manage An Excel Development Project?

Without effective project management, your new client may never feel the benefit of your cool Excel / Excel VBA skills! Here’s five tips for making your Excel development project a success.

1) Keep Commitments
Make a small commitment in the first meeting. This could be sending the customer some notes from the meeting, a project plan or a specification for the new file. Make sure it is an easy commitment to keep and then, crucially, make sure you keep it! This will begin to foster trust in the relationship and confidence in the project.

2) Use Video
Use your capability in video creation (remember, you have already created a lot of online content!) to support the project. A video walkthrough will make the file easy to understand and ensure the customer is using all of its functions.

3) Seek Out Criticism
The client will not like everything about what you have done. Don’t worry, those criticisms are actually gold dust to us as consultants. Responding to criticism properly will not only optimise the implementation for the client, it will build confidence in you as somebody who is easy to work with. Don’t just passively consume criticism, actively seek it out!

4) Be Flexible
One thing you can guarantee is that as the client appreciates the possibilities of Excel / Excel VBA (because of your brilliant work to date!) new ideas will be mooted. Have a strategy for responding to these: yes, the general direction of the project needs to be agreed in advance but showing some flexibility will create better results for the client. And that’s why we do this job, right?

5) Think Long-Term
You want your customer to keep coming to you for Excel work, so how should the relationship work long-term? Many managers view ongoing maintenance contracts with suspicion, though this could be an option. Could you shift to some kind of monthly retainer payment, for example?

Click here to download the support file for this video.

Video 5 – Excel Development: Who Should You Work With?

Yes, it’s important for us to put ourselves in front of people as Excel developers. At the same time, we should apply our own filter to understand if prospective clients are likely to be good, long-term customers.

1) How Did They Find You?
Knowing how the prospective customer found you tells you a lot about their motivations – make sure you ask them!

2) What Systems Are Currently Used?
What is the current data landscape in the organisation? If a new system is being introduced for example, how might it impact on your project?

3) Do You Have A Champion?
You must have somebody to advocate for Excel (and for you!) in internal meetings. Will your champion work with you on the project? If not, who will?

4) How Will The File Be Used?
We love Excel, but it certainly has its limitations, like any other software platform. Lots of collaborative / remote usage of the file, for example, could be problematic, particularly if you plan to use VBA. Try to uncover these potential issues early on, so that you are not wasting your time!

5) Can They Pay?
The all-important question! Do not shy away from it and bear in mind there are things you can do outside of the meeting to establish if the organisation has money to pay.

Click here to download the support file for this video.

Video 6 – The 3 Seasons Of Your Excel Career – Are You Ready To Move To The Next Level?

You have to move through 3 phases (or ‘seasons’) to make Excel really work for you in your career. In this video, I try to describe the main features of each season and, crucially, how to move to the next season and make more money from your Excel skills.

Season 1: Hobbyist
If you are falling in love with Excel (or your particular area of specialism within Excel) and are just beginning to think about the possibility of monetising your new skills, you are in the hobbyist season. The key question at this stage: do you *really* love Excel development? A ‘project’ means doing an Excel implementation for somebody else – do you love that process too?

Season 2: Part-Time
In this season, you are getting paid to undertake some Excel projects, but the bulk of your income comes from another source – perhaps your regular, full-time job. One critical question at this stage: can you achieve a flexible working arrangement with your current employer, to free up more time to pursue your Excel development ambitions?

Season 3: Full-Time
At this stage you earn the bulk of your income from Excel development. You have to be ready for the tough times too, so you should be working on online content and passive income streams – perhaps you can establish at least one of those before going full-time? If all is going well, how can you scale your business?

Click here to download the support file for this video.

Video 7 – Can You Scale Your Excel (VBA) Consulting Practice?

It’s great to have customers and to be getting paid for Excel projects. But, at some point, you will want more! Is it possible to achieve scale in an Excel VBA consultancy? In this video, we discuss 5 key issues that you’ll have to consider if you wish to transform your job into a business.

1. Can You Segment Your Customers?
Can you group customers by type – repeat customers, one-off projects and occasional clients, for example. Different customer groups have different requirements and place different demands on your time and resources.

2. What Are You Busy Times?
If you have segmented your customers, you can begin to establish when you’ll be busy delivering work, and when you can undertake important strategic work to grow your business.

3. Do You Have Scale?
The holy grail! Do not design yourself a job – design a business. Do not hard wire limits to growth into your business model. Can you generate income without having to physically deliver the work yourself?

4. Should You Take On Others?
Others could be employed or contracted to support the core offering or to assist with other functions of the business. To what extent get you let them ‘get on’ with delivering for your customers?

5. Can You Scale Online?
Online activity probably represents your best opportunity to transform your job into a scaleable business; are you fully exploiting the opportunities online?

Click here to download the support file for this video.

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