If you're running your business on a budget, you'll find that using free spreadsheet software is a great way to cut corners. Free spreadsheet software, also called open source software or freeware, is widely available.
Further down in this article, you'll find a list and links to some of the most popular free spreadsheet software. But first, for ideas on what to do with it, check out these five suggestions regarding how spreadsheet software can benefit your business:
You'll find spreadsheets simplify tracking of income, expenses and other financial information. Use the tutorial available with the software to learn how to add and subtract columns of numbers, print records with gridlines and subtotals, and how to enter repetitive data without having to retype all the characters each time.
You can calculate out cost-benefit analyses, projected gains or losses, and figure out if certain investments will pay of or not, just by doing the calculations on your spreadsheet in advance to try out different scenarios. Once you learn how much time you can save using spreadsheet software, you'll never go back to your old method keep keeping books.
Make out employee schedules, remind employees (and yourself) of scheduled tasks, and track performance or hours through simple software programs. You'll find your records are easy to read and interpret when done on a spreadsheet.
Track supplies, demand, pricing changes and inventory through a spreadsheet so you always have a handle on what you need and what you have in excess. Use spreadsheets to track shipping times and costs as well to make sure merchandise is properly expedited.
Ensure you don't lose any contacts by tracking them on a simple spreadsheet that is easy to use for follow up and fast updating.
Track your mileage, expenses, cash flow, payroll, and other write offs on a safe, electronic record that automatically does the math for you. You can create all kinds of spreadsheets, some of which can help you calculate taxes owed each quarter or make projections for future quarters.
Links to Free Spreadsheet Software
Here's some of the most popular free spreadsheet software you can easily download online. Or in some cases, you simply use it online by registering, without needing to download it:
There's OpenOffice Calc, which is part of the OpenOffice free software suite. Everything that comes in this free download is full-featured and actually clones most of MS Office (and then some!). OpenOffice works great on Windows and Linux, and there are OS X versions available too for Mac users.
Zoho Sheet is considered one of the best among free online spreadsheets. It stands out from the pack thanks to the host of features it offers and great performance. It has the ability to import from and export to many different formats, which makes it easy for you to start using it quickly.
If you have (or go open) a free Google Gmail account, you'll have easy access to the Google Docs Spreadsheet. This free online software isn't as nice to look at as some of the other spreadsheeets, but because it's Google's, it's a power player and is part of a suite of other useful online tools.
Gnumeric runs both Windows and on Linux. It has almost all the features of Excel, but has a very nice, well-designed interface.
Others are quite happy with NeoOffice for the Mac operating system. It's not as appealing as Excel, but it's free and generates Microsoft compatible documents.
Many like the web-based ThinkFree Office, which comes with a gig of free online storage space. You just need your computer to support Java, and an Internet connection, of course. ThinkFree offers a quick edit mode for making small changes as well as a power edit mode for creating advanced worksheets.
Free software spreadsheets can improve your business efficiency without costing you a thing - except of course, the time it takes to input the information. Once you find out how easy they are to use and how much clearer your business record keeping will be, you may find yourself addicted to using them!