Starting a new business can be completely an overwhelming prospect. There is after all so much to do and so many ways to do it. A good place to start is by breaking down tasks and using Microsoft Office packages to complete them. The chances are you will have a computer with Windows and Office on it. Do not be tempted to buy a load of additional software that says it can help you without exploring the Office programmes first. You may well be surprised at the amount you can achieve without much in depth knowledge and without spending further money.

One area you will inevitably need to keep track of is the finances of the company. This will include the money coming in and the money going out on expenditure. Excel is a simple way of achieving this. This is a spread sheet based programme that allows you to enter numbers and perform calculations simply and easily. There is also the option to have charts and graphs which may well be useful in visualising the trends of your data. An example would be a bar chart with one bar for money in and one bar for money out. This would allow you to see which is higher at a glance. Checked regularly, you will be alerted early to any potential problems.

Begin simply by adding all monthly income and expenditure. You could use a list format with all the labels in the first column. In the second column type the amount if it is an income and in the third column type the amount if it is an outgoing expenditure. At the end of the month you can simply total the columns with a simple formula to see which is greater. As you require more detail, begin to have a column where you can enter a reference number which you can also write on receipts to keep things in order in case you need to audit. Remember that the main aim is to keep track of expenses and income for tax and accounts purposes and to know exactly where your cash flow is coming from.

It is inevitable that at some point you will need to write letters. This may be in the form of an invoice sent for work you have already completed or a million other possible reasons. Word contains hundreds of ready-made templates for you to use which already have the formats and the content. The user can simply add the required data such as the recipient where indicated. Hand written documents should always be avoided since it looks unprofessional. It is worth learning the basics of Word to give a better impression of your company. People are reassured by basic standards such as well-designed and typed documents.

Not all documents need to be sent through the post. These days they can be added to attachments as emails. Emails are a vital communication method for the modern business and are often used by potential customers to make first contact. Outlook is the Microsoft package which allows the user to send and receive emails as well as containing a calendar and task list which could be vital in helping you to plan your appointments. If for example, a customer emails to request a time for a quotation, you could quickly check your Outlook calendar and find a time that is suitable. It is important to be organised and realistic in your approach to avoid being late or missing or even double booking your appointments which will make you seem unreliable and could damage your business.

If you are lucky enough to get meetings with potential clients, it may be necessary to prepare a presentation for your pitch. PowerPoint can allow you to create a presentation with visual aids and summary slides to help define your points. Particularly when entering an office environment, many people will expect some sort of PowerPoint presentation and the effect of having a well-designed, well prepared presentation to go with your pitch should not be underestimated.

There are many ways to use the Office suite according to the requirements of your business. The programmes are designed to work together and be simple to use even for the novice. Break down each task and look to see if there is something already installed on your computer that will do the job.