April 2007  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
4/17/2007           Volume 4 Issue 4   www.offassist.com
California Dreaming

Is it April already? Tax season is coming to a close - if you haven't filed your return, make sure you have an extension filed!

In OffAssist news, I started my 1 year term as President of the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) on April 1. I'm nervous and excited, I have so much I want to do this year for the IVAA and the VA industry as a whole. I'm looking forward to this year's IVAA VA Summit in beautiful San Francisco at the end of this month, too. It's all a little overwhelming, and I foresee a lot of long nights in my future.

As long as I'm tooting my own horn, I was also nominated for the Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award, for the 2nd year in a row. What a huge honor to be nominated not once, but twice!

In this issue...
6th Annual IVAA Summit

The sixth annual IVAA Summit will be held later this month, April 25-28, in San Francisco at the historic Sir Francis Drake hotel. This will be my second summit and I'm pretty darn excited. Okay, and a little nervous—I'll be speaking at the event as IVAA President.

I think any virtual assistant who can find a way to go to the summit should do it. Why? There are so many reasons I don't know where to begin. Number one, for me, is, believe it or not, the content of the conference. Since I'm on the IVAA Board of Directors I have some insight into how much hard work went into putting together a conference that could meet the needs of new and established VAs and cover a wide range of topics.

The 2007 summit includes sessions on building your business through relationships, the practice and pitfalls of determining service pricing for the VA industry, emergency planning for the self-employed, marketing and image, "Guerilla Publicity", and the importance of continuing education. The speakers are all pros in their field and have a lot to offer. For some people a book just isn't enough, but once they've heard someone speak on the topic it all falls into place and makes sense.

The summit is great for networking. Sure, we work virtually, but we are people, and, like anyone else, more likely to call on people we know for a referral or subcontracting. VAs with a wide variety of specialties can get together in one place and compare notes. VAs who currently don't know anyone else who specializes in their field can find peers in their niche. The summit helps remind us we are part of an international community of professionals and not alone in our offices.

The summit is only a couple of weeks away, and I can't wait!

NOTE: Non-refundable late registration is still available online, but the hotel rate is no longer available and registrants are responsible for their own transportation and accommodation arrangements.
Spotlight On...
Core Office Solutions

Center stage this month is Corie Stewart's virtual assistance firm, Core Office Solutions. In her own words, "The name Core Office Solutions comes from my nickname 'Cor', but also does describe the services that we provide."

Core Office Solutions is a true generalist VA company. Corie doesn't have a primary specialty and likes it that way. She says she thrives on the challenges and variety offered by being a generalist.

"My ideal client – the client that I seem to be able to help the most – is a small business owner or entrepreneur who needs an extra hand. That's where Core Office Solutions comes in. We provide the day-to-day core support services that are needed by an entrepreneur or small business owner... What I love being able to do is to empty the Inbox of my client so that they can focus on what they do best – growing and marketing their business rather than being so tied to the office."

To find out more about Core Office Solutions and Corie's service offerings, visit her on the web at www.coreofficesolutions.com. You can also read an article detailing how she started her business in the face of personal tragedy at Right Turn on Red.
 
Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

Let us help you fulfill that dream! OffAssist is currently seeking businesses who would like to be featured in our monthly spotlight column. A number of our past spotlight subjects have told us their business increased after the newsletter came out and their web rankings got a boost from the increased traffic.

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Candy@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the spotlight in 2007.

QuickBooks Q&A
Q: I have about 50 transactions a month that are from debit or credit card transactions. Do I have to create a new vendor for each and every transaction? Some of the transactions are one-time only.

A: It is most important to keep track of vendor names for vendors that you will have a tax reporting requirement for at end of the year, like contract services or deductible expenses.

For vendors that are rarely used, such as restaurants, create a vendor name "Restaurants". If you want to have a record of the restaurant name (always a good idea, just in case), you can type it into the memo section. Entering transactions this way will also reduce the number of data files in QuickBooks.
 
Important Tax Deadlines
April 17
- U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040

- U.S. Fiduciary Income Tax Return, Form 1041

- U.S. Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065
April 17 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for March issued payroll

April 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly and quarterly filers

April 30
- Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941

- Employer's Quarterly TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)

May 15 - Texas Franchise Tax Return

May 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for April issued payroll

May 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers
The 80,000 Riddle
What is the number that is double one-half of one-fourth of one-tenth of 80,000?

Give Up? Here's the solution

Tech Talk With Tom...
Windows Vista: Five Reasons to Stay Away!

Not too long ago Microsoft released the latest and "greatest" incarnation of Windows. I've taken a look at it and, I have to say, it is very impressive. The interface is simply amazing. It comes with lots of different and easy to use media tools. It is also one of the most parent-friendly operating systems you could ask for.

Even with all these benefits, I still haven't moved away from Windows XP. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I'm just going to give you my Top 5:

1.) Not Finished
Within a week, Microsoft announced that the first Service Pack was already in the works. While originally promised in April, it has now been pushed back to Q4 2007. Rumor has it a second service pack is in the works as well. I would wait until the first Service Pack was available to upgrade, at the very least.

2.) Expensive
There are more versions of Vista than of any of the other Windows family products. Windows Vista Home Basic is the cheapest, sure, but it doesn't include any of the bells and whistles that make Vista, well, Vista. Home Premium is roughly equivalent to Window XP Home, but most people will want to go for Vista Ultimate. It has all the toys and power user tricks that people want, and can be yours for only $400. If you don't mind keeping your XP CD around for the next 5 years, you can get the upgrade version for the bargain basement price of $259.

3.) Hardware Requirements
Many of the coolest features of Vista will require new computer technologies like special hybrid or flash hard drives, or a true 3D video card just to use the new Aero interface. The days of high end video cards just for gaming are over; now you'll need one just to boot up your computer.

4.) Upgrade Hassles
Installing a new operating system is almost always a pain. With Windows Vista, you have to learn the operating system and reinstall all of your hardware drivers. Speaking of which, is your old hardware compatible with Vista? Are there drivers available? As of today, AMD and ATI are at the forefront of driver compatibility and their drivers are in the early beta stage and still have many known "issues". I wouldn't recommend moving to Vista on any computer that your business depends on.

5.) XP is Still Great
Analysts say that by the end of 2007, Windows XP will be installed on 77.1% of the PCs in the world where Vista will only be on 11%. If you were creating new software, which operating system would you design for? Most software that runs on Windows XP will work on Vista as well. I expect Windows XP to be supported by Microsoft and many software developers at least into the next decade.

So, with all that having been said, who should upgrade to Windows Vista? If you're a die-hard believer in tying your computer into your home entertainment system, Vista is definitely for you. If you play a lot of computer games, but only the latest and greatest, then Vista is probably for you. If you are dependent on your computer for mission critical applications, I'd recommend staying far, FAR away for at least another year.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.

Fairy Tale of a Different Sort

An accountant read the story of Cinderella to his four-year-old daughter for the first time. The girl was fascinated by the story, especially the part where the pumpkin turns into a golden coach.

When he was done reading, she piped up, "Daddy, when the pumpkin turned into a golden coach, would that be classed as income, or a long-term capital gain?"

Solution:

Solution: 2,000. (80,000 divided by 10 = 8,000; divided by 4 = 2,000; divided by 2 = 1,000; times 2 = 2,000)

 
Have an article you'd 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.