Stop Dreading Your Business Spreadsheets Once And For All

The Creative Business Owner’s Guide To Transforming Spreadsheets From Bland to Bold

If you’re like most creative entrepreneurs I work with, you’re probably not the biggest fan of spreadsheets. In fact, you might even consider yourself allergic to those foreign functions and formulas. 

Does the thought of staring at boring white cells in Excel or Google Sheets leave you itchy and on the verge of breaking out into hives to the point where you just want to run away from your Macbook and never open that tab again?

Well then, this blog was created specifically for YOU!

And while I’m sure you didn’t start your creative business just to crunch numbers and assess data, these pieces of information are essential to the health and longevity of your business.

It’s time to make nice with spreadsheets once and for all so they can become friends, not foes in your creative work!

Tools Are Here To Support You (NOT Stress You Out!)

In full transparency, while I am a big advocate of spreadsheets today and have come to love them, they haven’t always come naturally to me. 

My husband, on the other hand, is a total numbers guy. 

He’s been on “Team Excel” since day one and has ALWAYS loved a good spreadsheet. Seriously, the man could go on and on about pivot tables and the Facebook algorithm totally nailed it when they served him an ad for a mug that reads, “I’m silently creating a spreadsheet in my mind for that.” 

And while I can now admit to loving spreadsheets (although not quite as much as he does)…I still couldn’t tell you what a “pivot table” is. I just nod as he drones on about them.

Despite the fact that spreadsheets aren’t first nature to me, I now use them a TON in my business and in my work with clients as a business coach and an outsourced COO


Because spreadsheets are simple, accessible tools that allow you to organize and track all kinds of important information. 

Oh, and did I mention they don’t cost you a thing with any Google Account?

Free access to Google Sheets is the icing on the cake!

Spreadsheets are truly here to help if you can embrace them, but that may require a bit of a mindset shift and a new approach on your end. It’s time to learn how to adapt the tools that are available to you in a way that will work for YOU by appealing to your style and the ways that you think, organize, and work in your creative business. 


Tools like spreadsheets are meant to help not hinder. 

They should allow you to work better and more efficiently within your current systems. They are not intended to dictate HOW you work or make your job harder, more cumbersome, or off-putting. 

How YOU Can Use Spreadsheets In Your Creative Business

Sometimes it’s hard to get on board with spreadsheets simply because you aren’t sure what to use them for. The options are endless, and while this can eventually be empowering, at first it may seem overwhelming. 

I use spreadsheets for all the things you’d expect:

  • Finances ((the one most people assume!))
  • Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Profit
  • Received Payments
  • Overdue Invoices
  • Auditing my time
  • Understanding my capacity
  • Making sure my business “adds up”

But I also use them for:

  • Content Planning (Hello, Blog Calendar!)
  • Project tracking
  • Tracking and measuring progress with coaching clients
  • Documenting (and celebrating!) client wins
  • Organizing priorities
  • Brain-dumping and organizing to-dos
  • Delegating tasks (and making sure they get done)
  • Capturing and evaluating trends in my business

And I have worked with clients to set them up to:

  • Qualify clients
  • Track audience engagement and leads
  • Build ICA profiles
  • Set goals
  • Evaluate and Qualify Opportunities
  • Act as a Sales and Marketing Scorecard

…and so much more. 

Seriously, the list goes on and on.

I think it’s really important to showcase the diverse ways we can leverage spreadsheets in creative businesses because…

These are NOT your accountant’s bland, boring, boxy spreadsheets.

When done RIGHT (and with your unique, creative flair) spreadsheets have the potential to be and do so much more for you and your business!

How to make spreadsheets your own!

Spreadsheets, when created and used properly, are visual, dynamic tools that tell stories and give insights. They offer a simple, singular point of truth. ONE place to capture everything. They allow you to rearrange and sort data in a bunch of different ways so that the same information can give more insights and tell a story (or multiple stories)!

So, how can YOU start to make spreadsheets work for your creative business? 

I’ve got you covered.

Making Your Spreadsheets A Place You WANT To “Live”

Beyond their storytelling capabilities and convenience, I find the true power of spreadsheets lies in the fact that they are a VISUAL tool. 

As a creative entrepreneur, I am a very VISUAL person. Seeing the information I need to review laid out helps me make sense of it all!

Most of my clients feel the same. Although, that’s usually only AFTER I introduce them to spreadsheets in a way that is approachable and unique to them.

Take my client, Margot, for example. 

Margot came to me TOTALLY, 100% averse to spreadsheets. She was not at all interested in creating spreadsheets for her graphic design business. 

But she was feeling overwhelmed as the CEO of her company. Not only was she unsure of the actual results she was (or was not) experiencing, but she wasn’t even sure what actions were driving those results. She was keeping herself completely in the dark!

I had a hunch that a simple but powerful spreadsheet might be exactly what she needed to stop flying blind and finally make sense of all the moving pieces in her business. I anticipated this would help her move through the confusion and into feeling more confident and in control.

So, after a bit of persuasion (I can be convincing), she agreed to give spreadsheets a try. 

While she was expecting to be bored to tears, she was surprised to find the designer within came out to play and she was able to express herself in a new, unexpected way! 

Instead of trying to contain her creativity or fit herself into a spreadsheet that felt awkward and bland, she decided to embrace the process and make it her own.

She quickly found herself changing fonts, playing with layouts, and manipulating templates in an attempt to truly feel at HOME in the spreadsheets she created. 

“I think that if you’re a creative who’s feeling a little intimidated by spreadsheets, sometimes you have to give yourself permission to take ownership over your spreadsheets. I had to make it a home for myself. I knew it could have a great structure and all the fundamentals, but I needed to customize it for me.” – Margot


→ used vibrant colors 

→ chose fonts that brought her joy

→ and built in lots of clean, white space to break up the traditional cell-block style

As a result, she actually WANTED to revisit these spreadsheets and was more likely to use them consistently instead of dreading opening them up or feeling the need to avoid them. 

OWN Your Spreadsheets in 3 Simple Steps

The key to getting the most out of your spreadsheets is to ensure they support your unique needs and goals in a way that’s accessible, and, dare I say, FUN for you!

  1. Make sure they are serving your unique business needs. In Margot’s situation, for example, she needed a spreadsheet to help her organize and prioritize business opportunities. So we worked together to create a tool that would help her contain this information so that she could make informed decisions and keep up with different offers, projects, or ideas. Don’t make spreadsheets just another thing you need to maintain. Make them work for you. If they aren’t giving you the insights you need, helping you see the big picture, or allowing you to use the data you have to make strategic decisions, it’s time to change them up (or even let them go and try something new!).

  2. Build them out in a way that you will actually USE. You could have the best spreadsheet in the world, but if you aren’t going to use it, it’s futile! The goal is to create spreadsheets that are practical AND personal, meaning they work for you in all ways, spaces, and forms. Consider how you can organize information in a way that makes sense to you – including how your brain works, how you prefer to see things, and in a way that is most valuable and impactful for your business. 

  3. Give your spreadsheets some personality & pizazz!

    1. Switch up the fonts. Can’t live with Helvetica? I get it. Choose fonts that are easy to read but also spark your interest. You can even increase the font size to make the content easier on the eyes.

    2. Use your favorite colors. Make them joyful! Maybe you use your brand colors or maybe you switch it up completely!

    3. Add visuals! Yes, here’s your permission slip to incorporate icons, logos, images– heck, even emojis into your spreadsheets! I’ve even had clients incorporate their own watercolors, portraits, patterns, and other artwork!

    4. Break content out into tabs. You don’t have to jam-pack everything onto one sheet! Hide rows and reduce overwhelm by creating sub-tabs that are easy to navigate and help you zoom in on one form of information at a time. 

Bring Your Spreadsheets To Life

Now it’s time for you to get your spreadsheets up and running. Instead of feeling a headache coming on every time you so much as think about opening a spreadsheet, you now have the perspective you need to create spreadsheets that are designed especially for you. 

Keep in mind, tools like spreadsheets are most effective when tied to rhythms so that you can be sure you’re updating and using them regularly. This is the key to getting the insight you’re looking for. When spreadsheets and rhythms work together, you can let your shoulders drop, allow your heart rate to stabilize, and FINALLY leverage spreadsheets as the powerful tools they truly are.

Looking for more support?

In my business course for creative entrepreneurs, I talk all about systems. The best way to manage almost ALL of those systems is a “simple, but powerful spreadsheet.” 
If you’d like to learn more about not only developing spreadsheets, but the full systems they support in your creative work, click here to be the first to know when enrollment is live!


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