Expanding and Growing
A big "Welcome to the OffAssist Team" is going out to Tom Beauchamp this month!
Tom, having recently closed his computer gaming center, has agreed to join the
team on a full-time basis.
As many of you know, Tom is my husband of 12+
years and has owned his own business for the past three years. His background is
in computer technology and sales and marketing. We are
developing the marketing side of OffAssist to enable us to offer even more services
to our clients. He is also available for off- and on-site computer assistance
in the greater Austin area.
We have worked together closely for the past few
years while developing our businesses (haven't killed each
other yet!) and think this is the best way to move OffAssist into the
future. I am excited to have him join the team full time--with him helping out, I will be able to focus more on the big picture for
So don't be alarmed if a strange dude answers
the office phone or you get an email from email@example.com - he's ready,
willing and able to help.
- "Tom's Tech Tip" teaches
information security in the season of giving
- Learn about handling NSF checks in
the QuickBooks tips section.
- Our spotlight this month is on McGuire
Professional Services--a VA firm with a graphic slant.
- My usual collection of quirky office and bookkeeping humor.
- ... and those ever important upcoming tax deadlines
hope you enjoy this year-end issue! I'm always on the lookout for articles, so
if you'd like to contribute, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are You Prepared For Your Own
By Danielle Keister
“Self-employment is about freedom. I don't have
to kiss ass, sit through stupid meetings, or play political games. I can shift
my professional focus without having to get permission from anyone. I can work
whatever schedule I want, charge what I feel like charging, and take off for a
walk whenever I want. I get ahead primarily because of the quality of my work
and not my hairstyle, my lifestyle, my politics, or my personality. My age and
gender are not issues in any way. I have never heard of any job where all those
things are true. Give me self-employment or give me death.”
A colleague posted this quote, attributed to author Marcia Yudkin, on an
industry forum I belong to. I love it! And it got me to thinking…
self-employment is indeed about freedom. Freedom to pursue work that most
energizes you and brings greater meaning and fulfillment to your life. Freedom
to work according to the pace and style that best suits your talents, tendencies
and values. And freedom to make choices about the direction of your life, and
how well you live and enjoy that life.
At least that’s what people envision when they first open their own business.
In reality, the truth is often much different for small business owners. They’ve
all heard and taken to heart the mantra that “one should make a living doing
what you love.” And they start their business full of those good intentions.
Unfortunately, they too often fail to realize just how many roles there are to
fill in a business, and how each of those roles requires its own expertise.
For example, there's the technician. That's the person who works IN the business
as its employee performing the actual work of the business. Then there's the
manager, who must organize and supervise the work. And there's the owner or
entrepreneur, the mastermind who must work ON the business and is in charge of
setting goals, thinking creatively, mapping out plans and making strategic
Depending on the size of the business, it may take more than one person to fill
each of these roles in order to get the job done. No one person can be an expert
in every single area.
You may be an absolute genius at marketing and networking, but a complete dunce
when it comes to bookkeeping or word processing. Or perhaps you have brilliant
ideas that will take your business to the next level, but are an absolute mess
when it comes to translating your vision into a presentation or spreadsheet. Do
you really want to waste precious hours and days hunting, pecking and
desperately struggling with software mechanics?
And even if you are capable in those areas, as the owner and chief visionary, is
that really the smartest expenditure of your time and energy when you could be
out there creating revenue?
For these reasons, roles are divided into further specializations to ensure that
specific functions are performed properly, efficiently and by the right person.
Unfortunately, however, small business owners commonly attempt to wear all these
hats themselves in the beginning. Sooner or later, though, they arrive at the
inevitable truth - that it is simply not humanly possible to do everything
themselves. Nor should they! Trying to be all things breeds inefficiency. It
inhibits creativity. It drags down your productivity, and compromises your
ability to deliver quality to your customers.
All of this costs your business dearly in more ways than financially. Going it
alone does nothing to prepare you for your own success. Success, after all, is
the natural progression and implicit goal of any business. Tragically, too many
business owners never think to prepare themselves for the day when their
business grows beyond what they can handle on their own. And business owners who
are spread too thin come to resent and dread their business, and wonder what
they’ve gotten themselves into.
All is not lost, however. The fact is, the small business owner doesn’t have to
wait until the boat is sinking or already sunk. Even just a little strategic
assistance can work miracles, and allow you to start running your business
(instead of it running you) with more intention, clarity and greater results.
The Virtual Assistance profession exists to meet this need of the small business
owner. Virtual Assistants provide those administrative services that, in turn,
give business owners the freedom and flexibility they need to take care of more
important demands, and allow them to direct their time, energy and expertise
where those commodities are most intelligently focused.
So be prepared for your own success! Safeguard your freedom to live and enjoy
your life as a self-reliant, independent business owner by planning ahead and
hiring the help you need right now - you can't afford not to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Danielle Keister is owner of The Relief, a
successful virtual assistance practice in Tacoma WA that has been delivering
expert, personalized office support
services to small businesses since 1997. Ms. Keister has over 20 years
administrative experience in both the private and public business sectors. Her
areas of expertise also include
bookkeeping, desktop publishing and web design. For more information, visit
QuickBooks Q & A
S.C. from Washington asks:
Q: I had a client's check
come back NSF, so the amount was withdrawn from my account. How do I record this
in QB? I'd rather show it was returned, vs. just removing the original payment
from my QB.
A: Instead of writing up a
detailed answer, I'm going to send you to the source, the help file. It's
actually pretty good for this question, just make sure you print out the
instructions and follow them exactly:
1. From the top menu, click on Help and then QuickBooks Help
2. From the box that pops up, click on the Receiving Money folder
3. Under that folder click on Handling A Bounced Check From A Customer
Again, make sure you follow the directions EXACTLY and all will be well.
an article you’d like to write for our monthly newsletter? Would you like to be
spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the
A special thank you to our copyeditor and
all-around-language-geek, Dyanna Larson of
Think - visit her website for more information about her services.
|Important Tax Deadlines|
December 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for November
December 15 - (Corp) 4th Quarter 1120W is due
December 20 - (Texas) Monthly sales tax filing due date
December 31 - Last
day to set up a Keogh account for 2005.
January 15 - 4th Qtr estimated tax payments due
January 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for December
January 31 - Last day to mail 1099s and W2s to recipients
January 31 - Last day to file 941s and 940s.
R S U P D A T E ! ! !
IRS has announced that the new standard mileage rate for 2006, effective
January 1, 2006, will be 44.5 cents a mile.
is 4 cents per mile higher than the 2005 rate, and 4 cents per mile ~lower~
than the emergency increase for the last four months of 2005. For more
detailed information, check out the
announcement on their website at
stage this month is McGuire Professional Services.
Professional Services is a full-service virtual assistant firm started in April
2005. While fully capable of doing it all, they specialize in graphic design in
support of sales and marketing professionals; presentations, brochures, business
cards, flyers, marketing collateral, and even promotional products.
McGuire, founder and principal of McGuire Pro, brings to her business an
extensive background in graphic design, marketing, sales, and public relations
including brand strategy and launch work for a Fortune 100 company.
decided to go into business for herself earlier this year she originally planned
to be McGuire Office Express. After it was pointed out that this would make her
“MOE” for short she decided McGuire Professional Services was the way to go;
McGuire Pro for short.
Medinger McGuire is a 4th generation native Panamanian and a direct
descendant of one of the Mayflower passengers. She holds dual citizenship in
both the US and Panama and returns there frequently. Thanks to this cultural
mix Jean is also moderately bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish; a big
help when your business is based in
For more information about McGuire Professional
them on the web at http://www.mcguirepro.com.
Talk with Tom...
Keeping Your Personal
Information Home for the Holidays!
The holidays are a time for giving and what better
thing to give away than that old computer? Every year thousands of PCs go to family
members, charities, and the local PC repair shop without ever
being properly wiped clean. Everything stored on your PC is on the hard drive
and getting it off is a little harder than you might think.
Most people believe that deleting data and then
emptying the Recycle Bin does a sufficient job. This is NOT the case. When
you delete something in Windows, it just marks it to be overwritten at a later
date, it doesn't actually erase it. Then there's
the misconception that formatting a hard drive permanently erases stored
data--also not true. Formatting the drive just reconstructs the allocation table and
checks the blocks on the disk, it does nothing to actively remove the data, it
just leaves it "unprotected". With both of these scenarios anyone with the
right software you can recover data you thought unrecoverable.
So, how do we erase this data on a hard drive for
You can physically destroy the drive but that's not as easy as you think
and you would be amazed at what people can recover data from. There are cases
where people have drilled holes in the platters and it could still be recovered.
You can take it to a PC repair store that has a Degausser that removes the
magnetism from the drive and leaving it useless, but this can be way too
expensive for the general end user. You can write Zeros to
the drive with the utilities at the hard drive manufacturer site and that will
stop most people but an experienced user can still recover it.
If you don't want to destroy the drive, and are
concerned about keeping your privacy then check out these two free programs that
can make your hard drive data unrecoverable:
Boot and Nuke
Using these tools takes time and effort,
but it's definitely worth it in the long run. Unless, of course, your social
security number, mothers maiden name, and drivers license number were supposed
to be part of the gift.
Beauchamp is the newest member of the OffAssist team. He
can be reached at email@example.com.
Enclosed is my 2004 tax return showing that
I owe $3,407.00 in taxes.
Please note the attached article from USA
Today, wherein you will see
the Pentagon is paying $171.50 for hammers and NASA has paid $600.00
for a toilet seat.
I am enclosing four toilet seats (value
$2400) and six hammers (value
$1029), bringing my total remitted to $3429.00.
Please apply the overpayment of $22.00 to
the "Presidential Election Fund" as noted on my return. You can do this
inexpensively by sending them one 1.5" Phillips Head screw (article from
USA Today detailing how HUD pays $22.00 each for 1.5" Phillips Head
Screw is enclosed for your convenience.)
It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill
this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.
A Satisfied Taxpayer
Update - Yahoo Identity Theft
Back in April, I wrote an article about my Yahoo ID
I get a fair number of inquiries as to how I managed
to get my account back, so I thought I'd give share the information here.
Consider it an early Christmas present...
pretty easy to get fixed, but took about 4 days. A couple of good places
to start are with Yahoo Customer Service, 408-349-3300 and/or 408-349-1572.
On the second number I think it is option 2, then 2 again, but listen to the
menu to make sure. You can also email account security directly at
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email them, put your Yahoo ID in
the subject line.
to be polite on the phone. I think that's why I got so far when so many others
do not. I called them and explained that my LIFE was My Yahoo and that I screwed
up and needed their help.
prepared to give them your city/state, date of birth and when, approximately,
you first signed up on Yahoo along with your original zip code from that time
period. Oh, you also need to tell them what your alternate email address is on
the account. I think I had forgotten my alternate email, so I called and guessed
a few times and the lady let me know when I had the right one.