Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Levine, Principal of Excel Savants LLC., located in Edina, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Excel Savants offerings focus on three key areas:
- Build sophisticated, comprehensive, and elegant financial models.
- Transform and evolve existing business data processes.
- Provide best-in-class Excel and VBA solutions and training.
We specialize in business consulting and support for Startup businesses and entrepreneurs who want to either start or significantly grow their business and need assistance with financial modeling, funding, and guidance on the next steps.
Small Business Data Consulting
We offer Small Business Data Consulting. This is targeted at established small businesses that require custom financial modeling/enterprise solutions for data management and process improvement. Excel Savants has served clients in industries ranging from: Private Equity, Mining, Manufacturing, Commercial Construction, and Municipal Water Utilities to Insurance. These solutions generally yield an exceptionally high ROI and have the potential to save hundreds of work hours annually, depending on the scale and intricacies of the implemented Solution.
Individual Model Consulting and Excel coaching
Excel Savants also offers Individual Data/ Model Consulting and Excel Coaching. This personalized Excel coaching and Data Consulting is offered to individuals of all Excel/ VBA skill levels. The service is targeted at individuals learning financial modeling, basic visual programming, and Excel who would like to grow their skills.
Corporate and Excel, VBA, and Executive Presentation Training
Excel Savants is proud to lead customized Excel and VBA courses and in-person training for Companies and Academic Institutions. These services are mostly targeted to small companies, non-profits, and business schools based near Minneapolis, Minnesota, seeking Excel and Executive Presentation and/or Financial Modeling training for their employees.
Tell us about yourself
Prior to founding Excel Savants, I spent five years building sophisticated and complex financial models for a major health insurance company. I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to use my modeling expertise to help entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive and support individuals who wanted to grow their own modeling skills.
I'm inspired by entrepreneurs who pursue their dreams and found their own businesses. It's immensely rewarding for me to help these entrepreneurs work toward achieving their dreams.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am most proud of the services, support, and resources that I offer to my Startup business clients as I play an integral role in how they launch, position their business and products, and secure funding.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is that you own your paycheck. There's no salary, guarantee of success, or protection against unforeseen hardships. The biggest obstacle I encountered was when State mandated COVID-19 Stay at Home orders forced the closure of my Minneapolis office location in the second half of 2020. However, I believe that challenges can also be an opportunity for learning and growth. The office closure became an opportunity to transform my business from a local one relying on in-person meetings to a global one by expanding online and leveraging a professional virtual meeting platform.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in your own worth. I started charging too little and not billing for all hours I worked in the belief that it was the fastest path to obtaining good reviews and building my business. I'd advise researching your competition and then charging what you think is fair right off the bat. Charging unsustainably low rates in the beginning and then raising your rates later is disruptive and can result in consumer confusion about the value of your product/services.
- Spend time building a compelling website early on. Once you follow step 1 and believe in your own worth, you'll be amazed how quickly your business grows and how little time you have remaining to devote to maintaining, let alone building your website. If you put off this essential undertaking too long, it will linger as an imposing 'to-do' when you lack the time to devote to the task.
- Act locally but think globally. You believe that your products/ services are valuable, and the customer base you build locally will soon reach that conclusion as well. Chances are there's also demand for your products /services outside your local service area. Be bold and offer your products/services to anyone anywhere. When I launched my business, I was only offering my services to clients within a 20-mile footprint of my Minneapolis, MN office. It wasn't until COVID-19 forced the closure of my office that I began offering my services online. Now my geographic scope includes projects for clients residing in or launching starts up in: the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Australia, Cuba, and across the U.S.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My specialty is Intrinsic Valuation modeling. I was an Energy Sector Analyst and Fund Manager for an Investment Fund and held a Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst Certification. This specialty means that my models and valuations are comprehensive and are an invaluable tool for clients to perform scenario analyses. Despite the mechanical complexity and comprehensive nature of my models, I emphasize usability, a visually appealing user interface, and presenting results so that they are easy to understand.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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