Life is uncertain. Here’s a spreadsheet for that. Part 2

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs” – Henry Ford

 

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

 

I’m trying to build the best Agency revenue forecast tool. One that helps make more money for Agency owners and manager.

 

It’s a bold statement. It feels a little uncomfortable writing it down. Even more uncomfortable sharing it.

To do this I initially fell back on tried and trusted solutions. For me this means using a spreadsheet.

 

What do you do though when you reach the limits of your knowledge and you can’t use your favourite skill to solve a problem?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In Part 1 of this blog series I explained how I had come to the conclusion that my approach to forecasting was flawed.

Over the years I had made them more complicated. More data. Less dynamic.

You end up managing the spreadsheet and not the business.

I had a moment of clarity about what was needed. How the uncertainty of Agency life could be broken down into different categories and how they could be built back up. How staff costs need to be part of this conversation. How there needed to be a quick, simple and intuitive way of looking at “what if” scenarios.

All of the above are simple. Ish.

However in order to make the best user experience I hit a problem. I didn’t have the skills to make it happen how I wanted it to. More importantly, in the way I knew that my clients would want to use it.

I was left with a choice – spend an unspecified amount of time watching YouTube videos or find someone better than me.

Within ½ an hour of logging onto Upwork.com for the first time I found a specialist. Someone who knew far more about spreadsheets than me.

Within a few weeks I had something very close to what I wanted.

Some versions later and I had a usable forecast tool. Not perfect yet but a vast improvement.

A forecast that dealt with uncertainty. That enabled clients to quickly look at multiple “what if” scenarios. More importantly still it gave them a framework to manage their agency better. Whether they needed to push hard to close pipeline deals; whether to add or reduce freelance.

In short a tool to make more money.

So far this has mainly been in my head. I’ve bored a few people about this but now my little forecast needs to meet more people. To be shaped by what actual real people need and want.

The first such meeting took place last week. I opened up the Google Sheet version and was about to explain how to use it when the Agency owner cut me off. Not rudely but because he had the mouse and was clicking away. I stayed quiet as I wanted to see how intuitive it was. Instinctively he got it. He was clicking the right buttons and could see what it meant and what he needed to do. He saw what the implications were in terms of revenue and costs.

The follow up email was even better. Because of the forecast he knew what he needed to do in the next new business meeting he was having the next day.

The first hurdle was cleared – it had worked in practice.

The next stage for me is to roll this out to all my clients and make any changes that makes it work better for them.

After that I’ll roll it out to a slightly wider universe – to people who don’t pay me and see if they are as enthusiastic.

Maybe I’ll put it online but that’s a whole different story.

If you’d like to know more about how a simple forecast tool can help you make more money just drop me an email and we’ll see if it can help.