5 Excel Features Business Owners Should Master

There is no doubt that Excel has become one of the most important work tools currently. Its capability to save and process data makes it an essential software to understand the usage of.

The excel usability also applies to us as business owners. As we often deal with business data, we need something as powerful as excel to make our data processing smoother.

However, it can be hard to master the software so it can support us optimally. There are so many features provided by excel and it can take forever to understand them all.

Thus, maybe it is better to prioritize understanding the essential ones that are mostly used so we can learn more effectively.

The Crucial and Useful Features in Excel for Business Owners

With that in mind, here are the five selected excel features you should master to optimize your excel use. By understanding how to utilize them, you should be able to finish most of the common business tasks related to excel.


If there is only one feature you can master in excel, then this should be it. Formula is crucial when it comes to excel data processing and utilizing it can make us work much faster.

By definition, formula is a set of commands that can process data inputs to create the outcomes that we want. It has hundreds of variations and each of them can perform a specific task related to data processing.

Basically, the way to use formula in excel is to type in your cell something like this:


In the writing, FORMULANAME is based on the formula variant you want to use. Meanwhile, inputs there depend on the formula used and there can be some you should give to get your desired outcome.

As formula has many variations, it can also be difficult to understand all of them. Thus, here are some of the most crucial formulas you should master:

  • IF: One of the most used formulas in excel. Can help you to produce an outcome based on a logical condition evaluation you input into it
  • VLOOKUP or INDEX MATCH: The formulas you can use to find data from a reference table
  • SUM and SUMIFS: The formulas to add numbers in excel
  • AVERAGE and AVERAGEIFS: The formulas you need to average numbers in excel
  • COUNTA and COUNTIFS: The formulas that can count the amount of data you have

Sort and Filter

When working in excel, we often need to order and/or screen our data so we can analyze it better. For example, maybe we need to know the products with most sales or the spending posts which are above limits.

It is obviously hard to do that manually when we have a lot of data. To help you, there is an excel feature you can use, which is the sort and filter.

To easily activate it, we just need to click a button in the Home tab when highlighting our data table headers. From the dropdown shown, click “Filter” and boxes with down arrows will be added to your headers.

After the boxes are there, click the box on the column you want to sort/filter and choose the action you want.

Charts & Graphs

Data visualization is important when we want to see our data trend. Looking at them plainly makes it harder to get a meaningful perspective that can help us to make business decisions.

As such, we need the tools that enable us to show our data interface much better. That is when the charts and graphs in excel come to the rescue.

In general, to create a chart/graph in excel, highlight the cell range which contains your data (including the headers) first. After that, go to the Insert tab and click a chart/graph button there to choose the visualization type you want.

A chart/graph should show up somewhere in your sheet after you click on your choice. If you want to customize the chart, then you can select it and do your preferred editing from there.

Conditional Formatting

Talking about data visualization, there is also another great excel feature that can help you. This one is called conditional formatting and utilizing it can make your data much easier to look at and analyze.

The conditional formatting principle is to give some sort of sign in your cell based on the cell value. The sign is the comparison representation between the cell value and other things you can determine (other cells’ value, limitation, formula result, etc).

To set this conditional formatting to your cells, you should add some rules that determine the giving of the sign. Highlight the cell range where you want to activate conditional formatting, then click “Conditional Formatting” and choose “Manage Rules…”.

In the dialog box, click the “+” symbol there whenever you want to add new rules that give your cells signs. Then, choose the sign and set the condition that must be fulfilled to add the sign to your cells.

Pivot Table

The last feature that can be crucial is the pivot table. A pivot table is something you can use to summarize data from your table columns easily and fast.

As you input your business data, probably you have tables with lots of columns that can be confusing to look at. A pivot table can help you extract the data you want to analyze from them and get you the important insights.

In brief, the way to utilize the pivot table feature isn’t too hard either.

First, highlight the cell range of the data table you want to pivot. Then, click the “Pivot Table” button on the Insert tab and click OK on the dialog box shown.

From there, you need to pick the rows, columns, filters, and values of your pivot table based on your table headers.

Adjust it so you can get the analysis you want from your pivot table. It is quite easy to do as we just need to drag and drop the table headers in the appropriate boxes.

Final Takeaways

Data analysis has become a crucial basis for taking the right business decisions. One of the excellent software that can help you with your data analysis process is Microsoft Excel.

Excel has the potential to support you significantly in gaining meaningful insights on your data related to business operations. Mastering five of its main features mentioned here should enable you to take much advantage of excel capabilities for your business.


About the Author:

Daniel is the founder of Compute Expert, an excel education and consultation service website. It has a blog that gives free comprehensive tutorials about how to use excel.

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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