Start Up Blog

Why spreadsheets are the enemy

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 18, 2010

Spreadsheets cause far more problems in business than they solve. When we sue spreadsheets too much we start to believe our business is the numbers we make up to fill in the columns. Turns out the numbers on the tidy little sheets have very little to do with our business. Our business is about people, emotions and serving needs. It’s about human movement and insight, not predictions and forecasts.

In recent times brand managers and entrepreneurs have become spreadsheet managers. Busy forecasting, doing profit and loss statements for upcoming launches and estimating sales revenue and market share for the upcoming quarter. The problem with most of these activities is simple, they are predictions. They rarely turn out to be correct, and they suck time we should be investing in getting our products to the market, talking with our customers and promoting what we do.


In startup land there are only two colums we need. Expenses and revenue. Once we have these we just need to make sure the revenue side is greater than the expense side. After that we ought leave the spreadsheets to our accountants.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sam Sabey said, on June 18, 2010 at 10:07 am

    +1

    My first 2 startups were spreadsheet driven. They failed.

    My current startup isn’t and it’s starting to come through to the other side of the valley.

    Sam,
    @samotage

    • Steve Sammartino said, on June 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

      Sam, I had the exact same experience. My most successful businesses I have had have focused on product and people. Not estimates.

      In fact in my failed startup which is here: http://startupblog.wordpress.com/2007/04/27/stressed/ had so many spreadsheets it was a joke. It was the investors who drove this ethic however. The more numbers we have, the less accurate they become.

      Steve.


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