10 Microsoft Excel Secrets for New Business Owners

If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business, there is no better time to get started than today. There are so many opportunities to seize, plenty of resources to help your business get off the ground, and even more markets to venture into. The internet is turning the world into one huge economy, so you can cater to customers from around the world too.

There are a lot of skills you need in order to become an exceptional business owner. You need to know how to communicate effectively. Strategic planning and data analysis are also among the skills that separate good business owners from the best. There are plenty of tools you can use to help you run your business too, but in this article, we are going to focus on Microsoft Excel and its top 10 secrets.

Pivot Tables

Pivot tables are about as big a secret as Microsoft Excel can contain. It is the tool that you will use often as you crunch numbers and make predictions. What Pivot Tables do is arrange your raw data into any format you want.

Once a set of raw data is converted into its organized form using a Pivot Table, there are many things you can do. You can sort data in different ways, group it based on certain parameters, and even create a series of relationships between entries.

Conditional Formatting

Microsoft Excel is a handy tool for analyzing data in a visual way. Conditional Formatting is certainly a must-use feature of the software. As the name suggests, Conditional Formatting lets you format rows and cells that meet certain requirements (conditions).

Using Conditional Formatting, it is easy to automatically highlight important entries in a dataset. You can, for example, automatically turn cells that contain numbers above 100 green. The moment you start entering your data, you can view these highlighted cells in real time.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Excel has many keyboard shortcuts designed to help you work faster. Aside from the usual CTRL+C and CTRL+V for copying and pasting data, you can also use CTRL+ALT+F9 to trigger calculations on all of your worksheets.

Other shortcuts are just as handy. F4 is the shortcut for repeat; you can repeat the last edit with a push of a key. ALT+Enter lets you start a new line in the same cell, allowing you to write notes or descriptions in a more detailed way.

Remove Duplicates

The recent versions of Microsoft Excel have tabs that organize tools and features. In the Data tab, you will find a particular feature that will be incredibly useful when you are analyzing a large chunk of data: Remove Duplicates.

This too is a straightforward tool to use. You simply highlight the cells that you want to edit, go to the Data tab, and click Remove Duplicates. Excel will display all duplicate entries and let you choose which ones to remove. There are also ways to remove – or save – all of the displayed duplicate entries.


VLOOKUP is a handy tool for searching through your Excel worksheets. What it does is look for a result in a particular column based on parameters defined by another. With a simple VLOOKUP formula, you can find the right product SKU or order ID based on things like an email address or name.

VLOOKUP transforms your Excel worksheets into active data management tools. On top of the simple search mentioned earlier, you can also use VLOOKUP with wildcards, creating a comprehensive data search tool that you can customize freely.

Text to Columns

This next one is one of my favorites. Text to Columns tool is another feature in the Data tab that you can use to format and process raw data into a usable worksheet. As the name suggests, it is designed to convert simple text into data that Excel can process.

If you have a comma-delimited list of first and last names, for instance, you can use Text to Columns to separate the first and last name of each entry. Simply use comma as a delimiter or use “, ” (with an extra space after the comma) to get the data processed correctly.

Frozen Panes

One of the challenges you will face as you try to read larger datasets is knowing which row or column represents the metrics you want to understand. This is where Freeze Panes come in handy. You can freeze the top and leftmost panes to allow for easier data reading.

The frozen panes will not move as you scroll through the worksheet, giving you clear references of each row and column you are reviewing. Freeze Pane can also be used deeper into the worksheet, allowing you to freeze half of the sheet rather than only the top part.

Paste Special

Copying and pasting data from various sources are the tasks you will do often when you are a business owner. After all, you need to rely on multiple sources of information to get a clear picture of your business. You can elevate an ordinary copy-paste routine into an intuitive one using Paste Special.

Paste Special lets you select a table or a range, transpose the data as needed, and paste it onto a new worksheet or the current one. When you have already copied the data you want to paste, you also have the option to paste cells, formulas, formatting, and other specific elements of the cells.


SUM is another frequently-used Excel feature that you want to master as a business owner. Normally, you create a formula by typing =SUM into a cell and then select a range of data that you want to calculate. Another (simpler) way of doing this is by hitting the ALT+= shortcut with the bottom cell selected.

Of course, SUM is not the only tool you can use. You also have SUMIF to define specific conditions that trigger the calculation. You also have COUNT to help you count the number of entries in a row or a column. These tools can be used with each other for more complex calculations.

Audit Toolbar

Microsoft Excel has a feature that lets you check your worksheet for errors. Instead of going through the formulas manually, you can now use the Audit toolbar to help you. What it does is display formulas in a visual way, depicting the relationships between data ranges and cells.

The visual representation of your formulas certainly makes tracing errors in calculations and making sure that the worksheet functions properly easier. Checking for errors using the Audit toolbar before sending out Excel documents such as an invoice is a good habit to get into.

Mastering More Excel Secrets

From the secrets we covered in this article, it is clear that Microsoft Excel is an incredibly useful software for business owners. To make it even better, there are still so many secrets, tools, and resources you can benefit from as an Excel user. Investing in a comprehensive Microsoft Excel training is definitely something worth considering.

There is no shortage of courses to take too. You can become an Excel expert through online and offline courses both specialized and general. Determine what kind of knowledge you are looking for and then find the perfect course to reach your goals.

The more you learn about Excel – and use it in your day-to-day operations – the more you will realize how incredibly useful this software is. As a business owner, Microsoft Excel is a fantastic tool to master and use.

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