April 2009  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 6 Issue 4   www.offassist.com
April Action Challenge

You know what I like most about April? April 16th!

That's when all of my tax preparer friends can breathe. Most of them take a day, sometimes even a week, off. My office is quiet and it's a beautiful thing.

Late April is my time to regroup. I'm able to stop working 14 hour days 7 days a week. I get to drag my kids to the park before it gets too hot here in central Texas to do anything but run from one air conditioned area to the next.

I also have the time to sort through all the random business ideas I've jotted down since the start of the year. Many of them find their way to the circular file. The good ideas, the ones that still look good after being being backburnered for months, those are the ones I start acting on.

Which brings me to my action challenge for each of you reading this this month.

Look at your list of ideas or random to-dos. We all have one, either on paper or in our heads. Take that list and mark off the items you have accomplished or that you've changed your mind about.

Now, take one of the ideas that are left and act on it. Figure out what you need to do to make it happen. Then DO it!

In this issue...

A lot of people start their VA Business part-time, so I thought this article might be timely.

Business Advice: Starting out Part-Time
Bill Bartmann

You will need to learn how to balance your time and commitments with your current employer and your family while you reduce financial risks by starting out part-time.

Advantages of Starting a Part-Time Business
You get a trial time, to see if business ownership is right for you and you are right for business ownership. If you should find it really is not for you, then you still have your job, which may not look so bad once you have experienced the other side of the coin.

Running a small business, part-time, reduces the amount of risk involved. Starting out small and making mistakes early in the game will result in a much smaller loss if the business should fail.
You still have your income from your job to pay the mortgage, car loan, groceries, child care, etc., while the business is being established. Once you begin to show profit, you will be able to leave the profits in the business to grow the business. The more money you are able to keep in the business, the faster the business can grow

Drawbacks to Running a Business Part-Time
When you're only working part time, it takes longer to grow a self-sustaining business. You are also at risk of experiencing “burn-out,” as you are working even more hours than you were before. What ever leisure time you used to enjoy with friends and family is being taken up by the new part-time business. Now, you work full time, run a business part-time and you still need to sleep.

Don't forget, you still have an obligation to your employer to perform your job, to be productive, to show up every day, on time and to put in a full 8 hours. You also have an obligation to your business to keep it operating.

You might lose your focus on the job, the business, or both if you continue too long at this pace. Eventually, you will become physically and mentally exhausted. A time will come that you will have to make a decision; work full time, or give up the job and run your business.

Time Management and Self-Discipline
If you should decide to turn to run your business full time, then you will need to have great time management skills. Your time off will be limited at first; plan to accomplish as much as possible as you stay focused on your business.
You will need to develop great self-discipline. Your boss will no longer be holding you accountable; you will have to hold yourself accountable. You will have to make yourself work hard to accomplish what you need to.

Lifestyle - Family and Friends
Strong support from family and friends is critical to your decision to go into business for yourself. Have a conversation with them; make them aware that your time will be committed to developing a business while you continue to work full time. Explain what you will need from them in terms of support and understanding. Assure them that this is only going to be temporary and they will likely be less resistant of the change in your routine and more tolerant of the fact that there will be no more “after-work drinks” or extra curricular activities with the family for a while.

Being skilled at managing your and other people's expectations is important in your success in life and in business. Managing the expectations of your friends and family will help you with the support system you need to begin your journey to business ownership.

Bill Bartmann is a self-made billionaire who went from homeless at the age of 14 to becoming a billionaire, going bankrupt, then bouncing back to do it again! Bill has had his self-doubts and even bouts of depression; he wouldn't be human otherwise. However, when self-esteem is strong and you're clear about your values, then you can bounce back from the lows; each time, you bounce back just a little bit higher. Bring out the Billionaire in you; visit www.billionaireu.com

Article Source: www.bestmanagementarticles.co


Humor
No More Tax Talk!
I am sick to death of taxes, even tax jokes. Here are a few a friend sent me this season to lighten the days. While tax season has not yet driven me to drink, I can appreciate some bad jokes about bars...

Did you hear the one about Alf, the dyslexic man, who walks into a bra?

A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, 'I'll serve you, but don't start anything!"

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm, and says, "A beer please, and one for the road."

 
 
Tax Deadlines
April 20 - State 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 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for April issued payroll
Tech Talk With Tom...
Searching Smarter

"Tom can you look up x,y,z for me?"

This is the number one question asked of me. Why? Well, I have a knack for quickly locating exactly what I am looking for, whether it's a review of the latest video card, the address of a prospective client, or a topic I am researching for school. I find what I need and find it in about ¼ of the time it takes other people.

No, I don't have access to some Top Secret Government Database of information. I don't even have a backdoor that allows me instant answers to my queries on Google or Yahoo! What I do have is a lot of experience using search engines and two little "secrets" that help me find what I need and nothing more.

When you know exactly what you are looking for the quotation mark is your friend. Let's say you were looking for articles about lil ole me. Of course you would look up Tom P. Beauchamp. But if you type it just like that in Google you will get an amazing about of records to look through. Over 10 pages. Now try typing this: "Tom P. Beauchamp". Wow, the first 2 results are actually about me!

Ok, one more trick. Let's say you need information on a topic that is easily confused with another. You want information about the Harry Potter books, but not the movies. If you search Harry Potter in Google you'll get a mixed bag of results with hits about the books, movies, and video games. Try "Harry Potter" –movie -game in the query window. This will remove any results that included the word movie or game on the page. (Another good one is java –coffee if you want the programming language).

So there you have it, my two best secrets for faster, more efficient searching. Just don't tell Candy or I may be out of a job!

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.
Spotlight On...
2 Minutes with a VA

I am so excited about my new project, the 2-Minutes with a VA blog. I get the chance to briefly answer many of the common questions people have emailed me over the years about becoming a VA.

As an added bonus, I want to include a some of my favorite VA books and links - the ones I refer people to when they ask me how they can become a virtual assistant.

Books

Secrets of Six-Figure Woman by Barbara Stanny

I reviewed this one in detail on my personal blog, here so I'm just going to say that so much of this is about attitude. You don't need to be big in your business to use the advice Stanny gives here. Re-reading this book was the main inspiration (other than the 100s of emails I get every month) for starting the 2 Minutes with a VA blog.

Entrepreneurial Freedom by Jeannine Clontz and Lauren Hidden
Even though I read it 4 years after I started my business I still came away with a lot of good info. It really is a great book! The authors were featured in the December issue of this newsletter.

The Virtual Business Startup System by Tawnya Sutherland
This is the woman behind VANF. I admit I haven't read through this myself, but I've heard great things about it! You can get a free 48 page sample here.

Virtual Assistant: The Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA by Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker
If you are just looking at becoming a VA or are starting to take those first steps, this is a must-read book. It has some very basic information about VAs and numerous tips quotes from leading VAs around the world.

Links

2minuteswithava.com - Yes, my baby. I answer common questions I get from aspiring VAs with short, 2-minute video blog entries. I also maintain a sidebar with links to other resources.

www.ivaa.org - They are the only VA organization that is not-for-profit. Of course, I'm currently the web coordinator and a past president so I may be biased. My largest client found me through the IVAA directory, so it's nothing to sneeze at.

www.vanetworking.com - Another wonderful resource. Take time to read through the posts, there is a wealth of information out there. Portions of the site have become paid access only, but there is still a ton of fantastic info to be found in the free areas.

There are other VA organizations and message boards, of course, but these are the two that I have gained the most information from and find to be the friendliest.
 
Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

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 limelight.


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.

The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the copywriting/editing skills of Ink Think VA, and the coding talents of VA Lab Designs.