Trade Secrets: How to run a ~successful~ business by using spreadsheets [free templates]

Trade Secrets: How to run a ~successful~ business by using spreadsheets [free templates]

To kick off Trade Secrets, we geeked out with Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, founder of Rags2Riches, one of the first social enterprises in the Philippines, over spreadsheets! She shares about her frustration with math and how she worked hard to crunch the numbers again and again and learned all the spreadsheets tools and hacks. 

It's such a simple yet powerful and effective tool in managing and growing your business. Read until the end for free templates (yes plural!) that can instantly supercharge your business ops!

About Reese & Rags2Riches

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz & Rags2Riches products . 

Reese describes herself as a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and spreadsheets geek all rolled into one. She founded Rags2Riches, one of the country's first social enterprises whose mission is to lift Filipino artisans out of poverty.

They started out in 2007 by partnering with artisans and transforming unwanted fabric into woven rugs, then into bags. Today, they have grown into a fashion & design house empowering community artisans from the Philippines. R2R makes bags, clothes, home accessories, and *almost* everything in between.

Why do you love spreadsheets? How has it helped you grow Rags2Riches?

Reese: I love spreadsheets so much!!! I feel like I can see all the moving parts and connect them with each other to create something coherent, useful, and meaningful. I don't just use spreadsheets for numbers, I use it for almost anything that I need to keep track of or understand. All those rows and columns can open up worlds of possibilities that can be used for personal planning, modeling, and business.

R2R is powered by spreadsheets, actually. I made our own Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) with it so that I could design exactly how I want to see the reports. I also considered how user-friendly the system is for our team and artisans. It has been almost a year since we started using this system and it is working so well! Even prior to this year, we also did almost everything on spreadsheets. Our strategic planning, sales projections, artisan training schedules, and everything in between. We got to where we are today because we were able to make sense of the data that is available to us - because of our spreadsheets geekery :)

How do you use spreadsheets in your day to day operations?
Reese: I designed our ERP on spreadsheets with all the fancy automations and protections so that people can use it with ease :) Prior to that, we also used it to track our progress with our strategy as the basis. Oh, and very recently, our designer even used spreadsheets to design weaving patterns! It also worked out so well. I could go on and on about my love for spreadsheets!

How the R2R team designed patterns with spreadsheets.

Numbers are not a crowd favorite. Any advice on making life easier when keeping track of finances?
Reese: That's so true! I totally understand that. I also have a very complicated relationship with numbers. When I was younger, I really thought I was not naturally gifted with numbers. Math would be my lowest grade. But I encountered a teacher during high school who was very patient with my questions and made me believe in myself. Because of him, I topped math and even got into advanced calculus classes after! Even if that was the case though, I still had doubts about my "natural abilities". So when we were starting R2R, I did not pay much attention to the numbers. I thought that if I just ignored it, it would figure itself out. But of course, that did not work out. I realized the hard way that numbers are there whether I like them or not and I should not let "natural ability" get in the way of learning. So I worked hard to crunch the numbers again and learned all the spreadsheets tools and hacks. The best way to get over your fear of something this important is to actually face it.

Best advice you can give businesses owners who have been putting this off.
Reese: What you don't know CAN and will hurt you. Solving problems starts with knowing what they are.

Here are 3 non-hacky, non gimickey-spreadsheet templates from Reese to get you started!

Costing & Pricing, Daily Cash Flow Monitoring, Super To-do List

Take note, identifying business problems (and opportunities!) goes beyond the surface.