August 2005

All of your business needs. One easy solution.

08/01/2005       Vol 2 Issue 8

http://www.offassist.com


Time off can be productive too!

Ahhh... the family vacation!

This month I'm headed off for about a week with the family to the beach and a local water park resort (hey, we live in Texas, the only way I'm going outside is if there is cool water involved).

Initially I had these grand plans to bring my laptop and make sure there was high-speed internet so I could work during our vacation. But I think we all need to take time completely off from our businesses; take a step back, enjoy "not working" for a few days so we can come back refreshed and rejuvenated.

You can only be productive if you are relaxed and ready to go!

By the way, does anyone know a good Palm-based program to allow pgp/gpg encryption emails? I can't seem to find one.  Yes, I am taking my PDA Phone that has email capabilities.

What can I say...Small steps for this semi-workaholic!

In this issue:

  • "Tom's Tech Tip" talks about file sharing

  • Learn a little about customization in the QuickBooks tips section

  • Our spotlight this month is on Ink Think - They think about it so I don't have to!

  • My usual collection of quirky office and accounting humor.

  • ... and those ever important upcoming tax deadlines

I hope you enjoy this month's issue! I am always looking for articles. If you have an article you would like to write, please feel free to email me at candy@offassist.com

 

Sell Yourself, Don't Sell Yourself Short


Say the words "networking" or "marketing yourself" to a new business owner and watch them go running for the nearest want ads.  Part, a big part, of running your own business is learning how to sell yourself and your services.  If you aren't marketing your business you are selling yourself short.  I'm no marketing/networking whiz myself but I have picked up a few things on how to sell yourself without breaking the bank...

 

Attend Local Networking Events


You would be amazed at how productive a local networking group can be. Seek out your local Chambers of Commerce, professional and trade associations, BNI, or other local groups. Attend the meetings. Be prepared with your 20-second elevator speech, business cards, and other promotional material. Listen to people talk about their businesses and see if there's a way you can help them and their clients.  Remember it's a give and take situation. They are there for the same reason you are. I've found several people to refer  my clients to in this manner. 

 

If you can, don't bring just a business card, dress it up a bit. You're  typically going to come home with a handful of cards, make sure yours stands out! For instance, I make up little bags of jelly beans, attach my business card, and put a sticker on the front that says "Need Help Counting Your Beans? Call Candy!"  Remember to make it easy to remove your card, you don't want them destroying it! I use double stick tape.

 

Don't be a wallflower... this is one of the hardest things for me. I'm actually a pretty introverted person naturally. Make yourself go talk to people. Recite your elevator speech on the way there (yes you might get some strange looks in neighboring cars). Practice practice practice, both in person and in private, until it feels natural and comfortable.

 

Join Online Groups
 

Yes, it is time consuming, but joining groups of other professionals - listservs, email lists, message boards, and networking groups such as Ryze, can be very rewarding, both in direct work and referrals. Be prepared to offer up some free advice and keep your name out there!

 

Create A Good Signature Block
 

Come up with a short but sweet signature block. Use it in all your emails and online posts. DO Make sure it includes your name, tagline and website address. DON'T use a lot of fancy colors or fonts-you want to get their attention, not scare them away. The same with customized e-stationary. Some people don't accept HTML emails and these things make the message come across as garbage. No one wants to search through a bunch of HTML coding to find your message.

There once was a business owner who was interviewing people for a division manager position.

He decided to select the individual that could answer the question "how much is 2+2?"

The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, and finally announced "It lies between 3.98 and 4.02".

The mathematician said "In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof."

The attorney stated "In the case of Svenson vs. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4."

The accountant looked at the business owner, then got out of his chair, went to see if anyone was listening at the door and pulled the drapes. Then he returned to the business owner, leaned across the desk and said in a low voice,

"What would you like it to be?"

He got the job.

Quickie QuickBooks Q & A 


Never use the "Reminder" function and wish you could get rid of the button up there? Always use the "Find" function and wish you could add that button for quick access?

Well, you can! Just simply go to "Customize Icon Bar" under the "View" menu and you can add, remove and even reorder the icons. 

CH from New Jersey asks:

Q: What are the major differences between QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Online?

A: Functionality-wise, the main difference is that the online version does not track inventory or work with programs such as Word and ACT!. Nor does it allow online banking and a few other features. I find for most small businesses that don't need to track inventory, it works great. Price-wise, Pro is going to be cheaper for you, probably half the cost. However, if you want to be able to access your accounts on-the-go and not have to worry about backups and lost data, it's a great alternative. The other great thing about the Online version is that you can have up to 20 users. The lowest license comes with 3 users (and a free accountant user). If you want several different people to be able to access your accounting files, it's wonderful. The downside is that I find sometimes logging into the online version takes a little more time than starting it up from your desktop. It's a personal choice for each business person to decide. 

Bonus Question:

Is it Quickbooks or QuickBooks?  Per the Intuit website, manufacturers of QuickBooks, both the 'Q' and the 'B' are capitalized.

 
 
Important Tax Deadlines

August 15 - Personal tax returns due (for those that filed an extension)

August 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for July

September 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for August

September 15 - Final Deadline for Corporate Tax Returns

September 15 - 1040ES Estimated Taxes due for 3rd Quarter 2005

 

 

Spotlight On... Ink Think 

This month we take a look backstage at Ink Think, the company that does our copyediting for this newsletter and other projects.

 

Dyanna Larson, the woman behind Ink Think, spent 6+ years in hotel sales and marketing before deciding it was time to go freelance and opening up Ink Think, a virtual assistant company based in Austin, Texas, in December of 2004.

 

Ink Think is a full service VA firm with service offerings ranging from basic data entry to meeting and event planning, but Dyanna specializes in working with words.  She does editing of all types from light copyedits to developmental editing, original content and copywriting, proofreading, and research for other writers

 

Ink Thinkís website is currently being revamped with an expected launch date later this month.  In the meantime you can reach Dyanna at dyanna@inkthinkva.com or by phone at (512) 922-2731.  Keep an eye on www.inkthinkva.com and find out why Ink Think is "where words go to work."

Tech Talk with Tom...

Fast & Easy File Sharing

Ok, so youíre tired of lugging around 20 floppies just to move quarterly reports from one computer to another in the same building.  Or, maybe you think it would be really nice to have one copy of the company calendar that everyone can access and change as needed.  And wouldn't it be nice to have all your MP3's accessible from anywhere on the network? 

 

A lot of people think you need a special File Server on your network to make this happen.  But since the days of Windows 3.1, any computer can easily be used to share files across a network, you just have to know how to tell your computer that you want to do it.

 

(No, Candy, voice recognition is not quite THAT good yet.)

 

So, how DO you set your computer up to be able to share those nifty MP3s...eh hem...I mean that Company Calendar so everyone can use them? 

 

Well, first you have to have a network with more than one computer attached.  Two computers will do just fine.  The computer that the files are on, we will call the "Server" and the other will be the "Client".  (Note:  Both machines can actually fulfill BOTH roles at the same time very easily if you need files from one machine on the other and vice versa.) 

 

Ready? Away we go!

 

Setting up the Server:

 

  1. Click "Start", then "Settings", and "Network Connections"

  2. Right Click the connection that connects your computer to your network

  3. Select "Properties" from the dropdown box

  4. If you already see "File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks skip to step 6.

  5. If you do not see "File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks" then

a.)    Click "Install"

b.)    Click  "Service" and "Add"

c.)    Select "File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks"

d.)    Click "Ok"

  1. Next, close all of those nifty windows you just had open.

  2. You may be prompted to re-start Windows at this point, if so, please do so before moving on to step 8.

  3. Open "My Computer" from your desktop.

  4. Go to the file/drive/folder (any or all of these) that you wish to share. 

  5. Right click the file/drive/folder you wish to share and select "Sharing and Security".

11.  The next couple of windows you will see will basically be "I am sure I want to do this" in the first box click the underlined text, in the second click the correct radio button and hit ok.

12.  You will see a window with a box you can put a check in to say "I wish to share this on the network".

13.  Once the box is checked, you can then name this resource.  Make SURE you remember this name.

14.  All done with the server.  Congrats!  Now letís see if you can get to this file from the "Client".

 

Setting up the Client:

  1. Perform steps 1 through 7 for setting up the server.

  2. On your desktop, open "My Network Places"

  3. Click "Add a Network Place". 

  4. Click "Next".

  5. Click "Choose another network location" and click "Next".

  6. Click "Browse".

  7. Click the "+" next to "Entire Network".

  8. Click the "+" next to "Microsoft Windows Network".

  9. Click the name of your network (Usually MSHOME).

  10. Click on the name of the computer that has the file you want to see.

  11. Click on the files/folder/drive that is shared.

  12. Hit "OK".

This should add that destination to you "My Network Places" folder, and to access it next time all you have to do is open "My Network Places" and double click its icon.

 

Two things to remember in all this:

 

1.)  You should ALWAYS have a firewall protecting your network from the internet.  Once file sharing is enabled, you will be a lot more accessible to those "hackers" out there that might want to cause harm to your computer or files.

 

2.)  Unless you specify otherwise while setting up your shared files, anyone on your network will be able to edit the file and even erase it.  Make sure you back up regularly to ensure your important files stay safe.

 

Ok, folks, that's it for this month.  If you have any questions regarding File Sharing or your computer in general, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at daystar@lansedge.com .

Tom Beauchamp is the owner of LANís Edge in Austin, TX. LANís Edge is a computer gaming center that offers PC and Xbox gaming as well as a high-speed internet connections, and PC sales and repair.  He can be reached at daystar@lansedge.com. Visit http://www.lansedge.com for more information.  

 

Q: What's the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? 

 

A: The accountant knows he is boring.

 

 


Have an article youíd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

 

 A special thank you to our copyeditor and all-around-language-geek, Dyanna Larson of Ink Think - visit her website for more information about her services.

 

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(Note: I only refer those businesses I personally work with and have had good results with)
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This newsletter is published monthly by Candy Beauchamp of OffAssist. (c) 2005
Much of the advice in this newsletter is based upon the research, professional and personal experiences of the authors. If the reader has any questions concerning any material or procedure mentioned, the publisher and authors strongly suggest seeking the advice of a qualified CPA or other professional..