December 2005

All of your business needs. One easy solution.

12/08/2005       Vol 2 Issue 12

http://www.offassist.com

 

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 actively 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 our clients.

So don't be alarmed if a strange dude answers the office phone or you get an email from tom@offassist.com - he's ready, willing and able to help.

In this issue:

  • "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

I 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 candy@offassist.com

Are You Prepared For Your Own Success?
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 decisions.

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 www.TheRelief.com

Quickie 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.

 
 


Have 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 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.

 
 
 
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.

 

I R S   U P D A T E ! ! !

The IRS has announced that the new standard mileage rate for 2006, effective January 1, 2006, will be 44.5 cents a mile.

 

This 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 http://www.irs.gov .

 

 

 

Spotlight On... McGuire Pro

Taking the stage this month is McGuire Professional Services. 

McGuire 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.

Jean 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. 

When she 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.

Jean 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 Florida.

For more information about McGuire Professional Services, visit them on the web at http://www.mcguirepro.com.

 

Tech 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 good?

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 http://dban.sourceforge.net/

Eraser 5.7 http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/

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.

Happy Holidays!

Tom Beauchamp is the newest member of the OffAssist team.  He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.

 

Dear IRS,

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.

Sincerely,

A Satisfied Taxpayer

 
Update - Yahoo Identity Theft

 

Back in April, I wrote an article about my Yahoo ID being hijacked.

 

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...

 

It was 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 account-security-help@cc.yahoo-inc. If you email them, put your Yahoo ID in the subject line.

 

Remember 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. 

 

Be 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.

 

 

Please visit our affiliates:
(Note: I only refer those businesses I personally work with and have had good results with)
  Ultra-secure checks for Quicken, QuickBooks, etc. 


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..