Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Five Data Comparisons That Excel Charts Make

Charts allow you to visually compare data in five basic ways, which means that your first step in determining the appropriate chart type is often simply to consider what data comparison you want to make.

Identifying the data comparison you want to make

Suppose, for example, that you've collected detailed product sales revenue data for a golf equipment manufacturer. Using a chart, you might decide to look at this data in any of the ways summarized in the paragraphs that follow:

Part-to-whole Compares an individual data point value to the sum of a data series. Comparing sales of a particular golf club set to total sales, for example, is a part-to-whole comparison.

Whole-to-whole Compares individual data point values to each other or data series to each other. Comparing sales of a starter men's golf club set to a starter women's golf club set, for example, is a whole-to-whole comparison.

Time-series Compares data point values from different time periods to show how values change over time. Showing monthly sales over the last year, for example, is a time-series comparison.

Correlation Compares different data series to explore correlation between the data series. Comparing industry-wide sales to the average age of the population, for example, is a correlation comparison.

Geographic Compares data values using a geographic map. Comparing sales by country, for example, is a geographic comparison.

Picking the right chart for a given data comparison

Once you decide what data comparison you want to make, it's generally quite straightforward to identify the appropriate Excel chart types and sometimes even to identify appropriate chart sub-types. Here are some rules you can follow:

1. To make a part-to-whole comparison when working with just a single data series, you might choose a pie chart. (Pie charts plot only a single data series.) You might choose a doughnut chart or area chart if you're working with more than one data series.

2. To make a whole-to-whole comparison, you might choose a chart that uses horizontal data markers, such as a bar chart or one of the cylinder, cone, or pyramid chart sub-types that uses a vertical data category axis and data markers. You might also choose a doughnut chart or radar chart.

3. To make a time-series comparison, you would typically choose a chart that uses vertical data markers, such as a column chart, a line chart, or one of the cylinder, cone, or pyramid chart sub-types that uses a horizontal data category axis and data markers. You might also choose the stock chart if you're performing technical analysis of security prices. (Time-series charts typically use a horizontal data category axis because of the Western convention of using a horizontal axis to denote the passage of time.)

4. To make a correlation comparison, you might choose the XY (scatter) chart if you're working with two data series or the bubble chart if you're working with three data series. You might also choose the surface chart if you want to explore trends in two dimensions.

5. To make a geographic comparison, you would probably use Excel's Data Map tool (refer to the Excel online help) or, possibly, the surface chart.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cheap Car Insurance

One of the inventions that has brought about a revolution in the lives of humans are cars. A wonderful machine, they have been on top of the wish list of people from time immemorial. Today, it must be said, people can buy cars relatively easily then was the case a few years earlier. Thanks to the mushrooming of several financial institutions and the enhanced salary that has made this possible. However, modern times has also seen the pace of life gaining great momentum. This has also lead to problems because in their eagerness to reach a destination early people often overlook traffic signals and collide their vehicles with others. This sort of unplanned expenditure can hit people, particularly those with average income very hard. It is to help all such people that car insurance was introduced. In fact, the rate at which such a service can be availed is so low that it would not be wrong to term car insurance as cheap car insurance.

It relieves people from a big worry and they can breathe easy as in cases when one's car faces some damage it is the insurance company that bears all the expense with the concerned person not requiring to pay a single penny. Needless, therefore, to say that what a relief it brings to people. Especially those who belong to the lower strata of society.

However, to gain from cheap car insurance it would be important for people to take care of a few things. First of all one must ensure that the policy comes to life as soon as it is signed. Then it is also important to make sure that the car is priced fairly. Not to forget the fact that no wrong information should, at any cost be provided to the insurance company as well as the fact that there is no default on monthly premiums.

Friday, January 4, 2008


For one thing, it should offer a thorough analysis of the need for the particular product or service you are planning to offer. It also needs to talk about how you are qualified to be making such an offering to the public.

A business plan should address your strategies in terms of production and marketing, how you will be organized, any legal aspects that you must address, and what your accounting methods will be. In short, a business plan should address the following questions:

* What do I want and what am I capable of doing?
* What are the most workable ways of achieving my goals?
* What can I expect from the future?

Keep in mind that there is not one specific format that you should use, or one best way to lay out your business plan. However, there are some steps you can take to make the process go a little more smoothly; we’ve listed what we think is the easiest method, below.

Step 1: Making the Commitment – be sure that you desire to work for yourself is truly greater than you desire to work for someone else.

Step 2: Analyze yourself – list your strengths and weaknesses. Determine how you can build off your strengths, and improve on your weaknesses. Remember, this can be a daunting task because you may have to own up to a few shortcomings you’re not prepared to recognize!

Step 3: Choose a Product or Service – this sounds silly, but just because you think you know what business you want to be in, it doesn’t mean your idea will be a profitable one. Take a look at the feasibility of your idea.

Step 4: Research Your Market – marketing research is crucial to the success of any business, large or small. The more you know about your potential market, the greater your chances of securing the customers you want, right out of the gate, and that means making a profit.

Step 5: Forecast Your Sales Revenue – after you take a look at the market your product is best suited for, estimate the percentage of that market that you think you will reasonably be able to take over. Take in to account the number of your competitors, their size, and the amount of market they already have. It is important to be realistic during this exercise.

Step 6: Choose a Location – is your new business going to be on the web? Or will you have a retail storefront? Will you consult out of your home office? Be careful to weight both your personal preferences and what makes the most sense for the ultimate success of your business. You might like the idea of working in your pajamas every day, but if your shingle needs to be seen by the public for maximum growth potential, a home office might not be your best option.

Step 7: Develop a Marketing Plan – here you will be forced to detail you plan to gain customers, and turn a profit. Discuss possible marketing channels, price points, advertising, and sales promotion.

Step 8: Develop an Organizational Plan – what skills and talents do your new business need to not only survive, but to grow as well? If you don’t have all these traits, how are you going to get them in the door? Will you hire freelancers? Are you hoping to bring on an employee right away? If these individuals, and their skill sets, are vital to your success, do not make a plan without them!

Step 9: Decide on Your Status – sole proprietor? Partnership? You need to decide how you’re going to approach this, and investigate the legal ramifications of each situation. As a sole proprietor, you’re in control, but you’re also solely responsible. In a partnership, you share the responsibility, but you also share the decision making and the profits. What works best for your budget AND your personality?

Step 10: Address Your Accounting – if you don’t know how much money is coming in and out of your business, you will never know if you are making a profit, or if you need to make changes. Keeping track of your numbers is one of the single most important things you can do for your business. Decide on whether you will do it in house, or outsource it to a professional; if you take care of it yourself, decide on what software you will use.

Step 11: Put it All into Numbers – this may or may not be necessary for you; it depends on what type of business you are starting. When you approach a financial institution for a small business loan, they will respond better if they see all of your plans in numbers; they are, after all, in the business of numbers.

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