July/August 2010  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 7 Issue 7  www.offassist.com

School's Out!

Earlier this month I was invited to lunch by a friend. Another friend of hers was thinking of buying a Kindle and he wanted a chance to check it out. She has a first gen device, but knows that I have both a Kindle 2 and a Kindle DX. I, of course, jumped at the chance. I love showing off my favorite toy (plus it was Greek food-yum!)

We gave the Kindles to the guy and sat and talked and raved about certain books we'd both read... He asked some questions; we answered as well as we could and talked about what we like best about the device. Then my friend said something that got my attention, "Candy and I are basically Kindle evangelists."

She's right. Amazon has certainly done something right. Talk about your word of mouth marketing! But why? What makes them so special? !

Oh, the device is great, don't get me wrong, but ya know... I think it mostly has to do with Amazon's customer service. Anyone who's ever had a problem with an order knows what I'm talking about. The Amazon folks will do darn near anything to make their customers happy.

This experience made me realize that our clients are OffAssist's evangelists. Nearly all of our new business these days comes to us because someone told them how great we are. You can't buy that kind of marketing.

I also realized that, as we go through another one of those awkward growth cycles companies tend to go through, I need to work more on my own networking and marketing to get more of those evangelists. Because it really is all about the client--AND what they tell their friends!

In that vein, I'll write more about my trip in July to the eWomen Network conference in Dallas, but it was a really great time and I'm glad I went. More soon!

In this issue...


Feeling at Ease - Coping With Presentation Nerves
By EN Jio

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that I've started attending Toastmasters. I've never liked public speaking (who does?!) but feel that, as a business owner, it's a skill I need to cultivate. With that in mind...

Even the most experienced public speaker will still feel the butterflies flutter before a big presentation. Nerves are an important part of our instincts - and they help drive us to perform at our best. Nevertheless, if your stomach is doing major flips and flops before your big speech, here are some ideas on how to calm your nerves before you take the podium:

Go ahead and be nervous

Worrying about worrying is just plain silly. A little bit of nervousness will help you feel energized, which helps your presentation come alive. Accept your nervousness and use it effectively rather than trying to stifle your feelings. The latter can make your speech seem dull and lethargic.

Breathe

Take a deep breath, take many of them. Breathing gives life to the cells in your body and will help you relax. Breathing also ensures you keep a steady pace throughout your presentation - it'll help you slow down and speak more clearly.

Pace Yourself

Go slower than you think you need to. It will allow your audience more time to absorb and interpret the information you've presented and it also gives you the ability to collect your thoughts and think about what comes next. Preparing for the next step is an essential part of maintaining a calm and controlled exterior.

Hold on to something

Having something in your hands helps you feel more grounded and centered. A minimal amount of fiddling won't impact the effectiveness of your presentation and can help calm you down. Take something simple along that won't be distracting (avoid clicking pens!).

Be Yourself

Trust yourself and your management training to deliver a successful business presentation - don't try and be someone else. Communicate in the manner you're used to - words and expressions that aren't yours come out sounding artificial and awkward and will increase your level of discomfort.

Boost your confidence with a quick brush up on your presentation skills. Don't bite off more than you can chew - practice making presentations to smaller groups before you tackle larger audiences.

Practice really does make perfect and the more experienced you become, the easier it'll be to work your audience and feel at ease.

Article source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=EN_Jio

QuickBooks Tip

How do I track my profitability with a new client contract?

Q: I just signed a contract with a new customer. I will be incurring expenses against that agreement and I want to be able to track my profitability on the contract. Is there a way I can do that in QuickBooks?

A: Definitely! When you enter expenses that are job or client specific expenses be sure to use the “Customer: Job” column on the check expense area, bill expense area, time entry area, or the name area if you are entering a journal entry. This will allow QuickBooks to track all your job-related expenses.

Now the fun part. At any time you pull a Profit & Loss by Job report and it will show you specific income and expenses related to your jobs so you can view your profit with those clients or on specific jobs.

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

Humor

You know you've been spending too much time online if...

* You wake up at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom and stop to check your e-mail on the way back to bed.
* You spend your flight with your laptop on your lap and your child in the overhead compartment.
* You start using smileys in your snail mail.
* You find yourself typing "com" after every period when using a word processor.com
* You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.
* You can't write your mother because she doesn't have email.
* You check your mail. It says "no new messages." So you check it again.
* You don't know the gender of some of your friends because they have neutral screen names and you never bothered to ask.
* You tell the cab driver you live at http://1000.edison.garden/house/brick.html
* You start tilting your head sideways to smile :)

 
Tax Deadlines

August 2

- 2nd Quarter Payroll Taxes Due
- Employer's Deposit Federal Unemployment (FUTA)
- Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500
- Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500-EZ
- Employers File request for Extension filing Employee Benefits Plan Return
- 2nd Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher

August 16

- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

August 31

- Time for businesses to consider setting up retirement plans

Tech Talk With Tom...

Portable Storage

Once upon a time there was a 5.25” single-sided floppy disk. He used to be enough to store, not only our day-to-day files, but also the operating system for our computer. Then came the 3.5” floppy….and the Zip Disk (a bit of a joke there). Now we’ve moved on to CD’s, DVD’s, and the ubiquitous “thumb drive” or USB memory stick.

So, this brings me to this month’s question:

Will a flash drive allow data (such as Quickbooks files) backed up to transfer from my computer to my client's computer or is a CD the only option?

Simple Answer: Yes, it sure will!

Longer Answer: In today’s computers, a USB drive (thumb drive, USB memory sticks, flash drive) is seen as just another hard disk. You plug it into your computer and, in a few seconds, a new drive letter appears. You can then click on that drive letter and browse the files just like any other drive.

In most cases, you can then unplug this drive and take it to any other computer. Plug it in and you once again have access to your files. There is a slight caveat to this: the computer must be able to read those file types. If you are opening a .docx file, the computer must have a .docx reader.

Unfortunately, Intuit and some other companies use a different format for the PC and Mac versions of their software, making your data incompatible. You’ll need to do a little checking just to make sure.

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

Spotlight On...

Libra Fitness

One of the biggest challenges of working virtually is reminding ourselves to get up and move. With our livelihood so deeply attached to sitting at our desks, sometimes we even feel guilty if we DO get up and move around. Making the decision to do something about this vicious cycle is how Candy met Chris Heidel of Libra Fitness.

Chris admits on her blog that she's always been skinny, but she hasn't always been fit. She wasn't active as an adult until a group of friends convinced her to train with them for a triathlon. When the time came, she completed the triathlon and has been hooked on fitness since.

When asked about the name of her business--no, she's not a Libra--Chris explains that it's about the symbol for Libra, the scale. Her goal is balance on multiple levels. Exercise alone is not the key to fitness, nor are dietary changes alone the key to weight loss. She strives to help her clients balance body and spirit and even partners with other holistic health professionals in the Austin area toward that goal.

One of the reasons we think Chris is great is that she's not perfect, and she doesn't expect her clients to be either:

   "People assume that I don't understand what it's like not to want to work out. My clients apologize for missing workouts that they were supposed to do on their own.

   I get it.

   I love it once I'm done, but I struggle as much as the next person to find the motivation sometimes. Having a gym in my home makes it that much harder. It's so easy to say that I'll do it...later."

For more information on Libra Fitness, check out her website and blog at librafitnessaustin.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.