April 2010  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 7 Issue 4  www.offassist.com

April showers bring May flowers, right?

April showers bring May flowers, right? It's no wonder, then, that this time of the year is conference time in many industries. Getting showered with all that knowledge and data usually causes both me and my business to flower and grow in new and unexpected ways.

Last month I attended my first South By Southwest Interactive. I've attended my fair share of conferences but this one was a bit different; the only unifying theme was 'tech' or 'geek.' It was different, too, in that I had to accept that there's no point in even trying to make plans. You just have to go where the wind blows you. If that's a late dinner with people you just met, or skipping two sessions to hear a guy pitch one of your clients the strangest, yet possibly most genius, thing you've ever heard, so be it.

I'm a planner by nature, so my new goal for the upcoming IVAA Summit is to not take myself so seriously and give myself permission to just go with the flow a bit more. If I learned anything at SXSW it was that sometimes the most interesting opportunities are the ones you never anticipated. Occasionally you just have to say, "Yes."

In this issue...


5 Ways to Use Video Marketing to Capture the Market
by Carlana Charles

In a market where there are so many people offering the same services that you do, video marketing can help you stand out from your competitors, convey your message and help build your brand. I know that the concept of video marketing can be intimidating at times, but tools like Vimeo, Viddler, YouTube and even digital cameras and video phones are great for marketing your brand or service without having to incur the expense of high tech or expensive gadgets.

As with all campaigns, when starting your video marketing campaign, you need to set the goals you wish to attain. Here are a few ideas on how you can use online video for the promotion of your brand.

  1. Adding a welcome video to your website. You can connect with your site visitors at the very moment they land on your website. Be sure that your message is brief (under three minutes, you don't want to bore them), has a call to action and highlights what you are all about. It is always a nice thing to go to a site and see the face of the person behind the business, as it helps establish trust and a connection.
  2. Start video blogging (vlogging). Adding a video blog post is a great way to spice up your blog. For the person who blogs regularly, adding an occasional video post helps add a new dimension to your blog and gives your readers something different to look forward to.
  3. Put together a video-tips series and post wherever you share videos. By posting video tips on your preferred video sharing sites, you help present yourself as an expert and leader in your niche. When your viewers are in the market for services and products that you offer, you will definitely be the first one they think of.
  4. Create video tutorials. You can make some simple, yet powerful training videos that you think may enlighten or be of interest to the people in your community and audience. I use Jing Pro, ScreenFlow and Camtasia for Mac to create video on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn that my clients have found useful and interesting.
  5. Post client video testimonials on your website. Don't be shy or too modest! Toot your own horn. Your clients loved the job you did and are willing to let you share that on your website, go right ahead. Video testimonial are very powerful and compelling and go way beyond text in cementing your visitors belief that you are competent in what you do.

Don't get caught up in your fear that your looks aren't for cameras or people will find you boring or unappealing, just grab your camera or open up your screen-sharing software and DO IT.

Article source: Carlana Charles is the Virtual Assistant behind Carlana Charles VA Service, a Virtual Assistance practice that specializes in Internet Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Customer Support and Service and Online Live Events. You can visit her site at http://www.carlanacharles.com and grab yourself a free copy of the Social Media Do's & Don'ts Guide, just for visiting.

Article courtesy of Ezine Articles

QuickBooks Tip

Removing checks from Quickbooks

Q: For the first 2 years that I had Quickbooks I didn’t reconcile my checkbook or credit cards in the program. Now, when I do those reconciliations, all of those checks, deposits, and credit transactions show up. Is there a way to hide them without messing up my records?

A: If you can reconcile your bank account WITH these old (presumably cleared) checks showing incorrectly as outstanding… and if you used QB to prepare your tax filings for previous years…then
this issue involves what you reported on those prior years. You most likely have some duplicated disbursements in your books and over-reported expenses during those years. You should check with a tax professional to determine if you need to file amended returns.

So, let’s give you a fresh start. I recommend:

- Using the last QB Reconciliation report, mark and add up the checks you need to clear. KEEP THIS LISTING as support and in case any checks ever do clear the bank.

- Enter a Journal Entry (dated 12/31/09 if you have not closed 2009, or 1/1/10 if you have) debiting “Checking Account” for the total amount of the checks, and offset with credits to appropriate expense accounts for each check amount, coding in a best faith effort.

- Run 12/31/09 QB Reconciliation and select the checks and the offsetting JE.

Repeat process for each bank account.

Note: Check with your accounting professional before doing this to be sure that's how they'd like it done. YMMV!

Humor

In this life I'm a woman.

In my next life, I'd like to come back as a bear. When you're a bear, you get to hibernate.

You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that. Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup... gonna be a bear.

 
Tax Deadlines

April 15

- US Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040

- US Fiduciary Income Tax Return, Form 1041

- US Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065

- 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

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for April issued payroll

Tech Talk With Tom...

Me and My Netbook

Last year I had a problem. I needed remote access to my server plus the ability to check my e-mail and get on the web while on the go, but I didn't have the budget to buy a laptop. A little research showed me that even the smartest of smartphones still wouldn’t cut it for someone like me, who needed to spend a lot of time online.

Fortunately for me, that was about the time that Netbooks really started making headway in the marketplace. I’m what computer salespeople typically call a power user when it comes to computers. Faster, bigger, and more screen space are what I look for when computer shopping. The economical price point encouraged me give a Netbook a chance; a year later I couldn’t be happier with the freedom and flexibility it offers me.

Are you thinking about getting a Netbook? Or do you think they're just another gadget to take up deskspace? Before you make up your mind, let me tell you some of the things I use my Netbook for:

Microsoft Office: Word processing, check! Powerpoint, check! Giving a presentation using someone elses projector connected to the Netbook? Check!

E-Mail: Thunderbird runs without a hitch. Outlook comes pre-installed. I personally use Gmail and this works like a dream.

Remote Desktop Access: Since the Netbook runs Windows XP, it's a cinch to connect to my home computer or server. Plus, since the remote desktop automatically sizes the screen to fit the connecting computer, everything runs and looks great.

Web Browsing: Firefox and Internet Explorer both run great on my Netbook. Text websites are easily readable and streaming video works with no problems.

Movies: OK, this one takes a little technical know-how, but I’ve got a nice selection of movies saved to the Netbook. No more lugging a laptop or a dedicated DVD player on planes (or family road trips).

Gaming: This depends heavily on the game. The screen resolution is not one of the standard ones supported by most games. In the case of older games you can sometimes work around this problem. Many newer titles (like Wizard 101 and Torchlight) come with a built in Netbook Mode to allow for gaming on the go.

Staying on the move: Laptop battery life tends to be overstated on the box. In my experience, the 7-hour battery life advertised for my Netbook is pretty close to the truth. Even a year later I can leave my Netbook off the charger for a week and still expect it to carry enough charge for a couple hours of use.

Are Netbooks for everyone? Probably not. I don’t think I know anyone that would only use a Netbook. But there is a time and a place for everything. My Netbook has been on business trips, vacations, and even short trips to the local coffee house, and has treated me well. I look forward to many more years with it.

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

Spotlight On...

Hickory Wind Ranch

Like many people the world over, Polly Parsons lost someone close to her to a destructive addiction to drugs. When she was seven, her father, 26 at the time, died of a morphine overdose.

This life-altering event is the inspiration behind Parsons' Hickory Wind Ranch. Hickory Wind Ranch is a sober living center for patients transitioning from inpatient or detox centers back into the world. Studies show that the longer a person spends in a healthy recovery community the greater their chance for long-term success and sobriety.

The staff of Hickory Wind Ranch create an individual treatment plan for each patient based on their unique needs. In addition to adherence to a 12-step program attendees are expected to work, attend school, and volunteer in the community as part of their re-integration.

For more information on Hickory Wind Ranch and their services, check out their website at www.hickorywindranch.com.

 
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 Time Is Of The Es-Cents.