December 2010  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 7 Issue 10  www.offassist.com

December. December? December!

How on Earth did it get to be December already? Wow.

This is the time of year when I like to reflect on my business and what I've done well, like taking Fridays off to work on my business rather than client business; and not so well, like waiting so long to get a shredding company instead of doing it myself - so many lost hours!

I also like to reflect on my personal life and think back over the year. As many of you know, my aunt died of cancer this Summer. It was a tough time for us all, not just me, my sisters and my cousins, but, most of all, for my mother and her siblings. My aunt was the planner, the family historian as well as the family jokester. You never knew what she was going to say or do and she will be sorely missed during this season of family celebrations. We'll think of you, Aunt Myrna, this season and always. Thank you for bringing many smiles and much laughter into my life.

Don't tell the others, but you really were always my favorite. ;)

Which brings me to my point...

Take time for your loved ones this season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work and my own projects that I forget to reach out. This year, I want to make sure I make time to reach out to those important to me.

Happy Holidays from all of us at OffAssist!

In this issue...


This article was from 2009, but I think that these are some great resolutions for your business for any year.

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions For Your Home Business
By Pat Fenner

Tis the season, you know! As a home business owner I know there are a lot of demands on your time, energy and attention. This is all the more reason to be putting some focus on how to "work smarter, not harder" in 2009.

Many people typically fall into one of two camps regarding New Year's resolutions. There are those who don't even make the effort - usually because they're afraid of failure. You know, "I'm only going to drop them by mid-January, so why bother?" And then there's the firm, consistent, I-even-write-them-down, camp. I have to admit I've been on both sides - and now that I'm working at home, I tend to be more in the latter group!

Here, then, are my top 10 Resolutions for your Home Business...

10 - This year, I will make some Resolutions! "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." And failure is not an option in my life. Most importantly, I will write them down so I can review, revisit and revamp them (if necessary) throughout the year.

9 - I will spend some time to create a vision for my business. Is this the sole way I support my family financially? Is this a supplement to my spouse's income? Is this a way I use, develop, or build an interest or talent I have that also brings in some money? Take some time to think about how your business fits into the big picture of your family-life.

8 - I will develop a plan of action. What business goals do I have? This includes administrative, financial, creative, productive, etc. depending on what your business is. What will I have to do to reach those goals? Then break it down into monthly, weekly and (if you're really compulsive!) daily goals.

7 - I will get a handle on finances. Take some time to keep track of your money! Set up a simple filing system...establish a spreadsheet...whatever it takes that will make it easy for you to keep track of things. And definitely keep your checkbook balanced!

6 - I will take some time to continue my education. The recipe for success is "brains and motivation". Motivation comes from completing #9, but our brains always need to be developing as well. Are there 2 or 3 areas that would help your business grow by knowing a bit more about? Website development? Keywords? Generating leads? Time-management? Copywriting? There's always lots of potential for improvement in anyone's business. CAUTION: even if you can come up with a list of a dozen items, only pick 2 or 3 to start the year. It is SO easy to get frozen with information-overload - I've been there!!

5 - I will develop an organization system that works for me. Perhaps you're not the "organized type". What does that mean...really? Don't use it as an excuse for laziness! Being organized just means 2 things: you can find what you want when you want or need it, and you can meet deadlines (like bills!). My husband loves his piles, but is very organized. There's tons of help out there (both online and offline) to help you get organized, but if you like your piles this pile cabinet system may be just what you need! See this unique system in action here.

4. This is related to #8, but is much more detailed, and not something you would necessarily do just because you've got a "big-picture" plan of action. Get out a piece of paper and think about all the daily responsibilities you have. Write them all down and block out time for your business as well. Then talk it over with your family, tweak and review, and when you've completed it...post it somewhere that you'll see it!

3 - I will find someone to be accountable to regarding my resolutions. This could be your spouse or other family member, but it could also be a business coach or colleague. And sometimes it's easier to be accountable to someone with whom you have no other relationship, because when you're not quite working "up to speed" it's possible that your business issues can get in the way of those other relationships.

2 - I will try something new in my business. Start a new (free) blog; establish some new business relationships; learn a new skill (article marketing?); start a newsletter; get started on social marketing...the possibilities are endless. Just make sure that your new venture stays in-sync with your big picture (see #9).

1 - I will do a daily attitude check! There is nothing so attractive to people than gratitude. I always say "If you don't know what to say, say "Thank you"!" - you can't lose. And in this hurry-up society we live in, gratitude and conveyed appreciation are usually the first things to go. So an attitude of gratitude will definitely make you stand out. If necessary, keep an often-updated list for yourself of what you can be thankful for - people, situations, successes as well as challenges, perceived failures and difficult situations or people in your life. We can learn and grow from everything that's put before us - if we allow ourselves to!

So, there you have it! 10 steps to keep your business growing and healthy in '09. Make this year be "the year" for your business by resolving today to put them into action.

Here's to your success!

Article source: Ezine Articles

About the Author: Pat Fenner is a veteran homeschooler with 2 young adults in college and 3 elementary-age children at home. She publishes 3 newsletters, authors a homeschool support website and runs a network marketing business from home. Her passion is to see fellow homeschoolers plug into the skills and passions they already have to create a lasting income for their family. Keep up with her at her blog http://www.networkfromhome.squarespace.com and get a FREE e-book on working from home when you sign up for her newsletter Learning and Earning at Home!

QuickBooks Tip

Year-End Prep

Q: Since the end of the year is almost here, is there anything I need to do to be prepared for it?

A: There are a couple things you can do that will help you prepare for the end of the tax year and January's tax requirements.

1. Income Taxes – if you haven’t already, this is a really good time to schedule an appointment with your CPA or tax preparer to do a quick review of your tax situation before the end of the year. There’s nothing worse than a tax surprise that could have been prevented with some planning.

2. 1099s – now would be a good time to review your vendors and expenses to ensure you have all the necessary information for anyone requiring a 1099. Of course, the big question is: Who gets a 1099? 1099s should be issued to any business or individual who is not taxed as a corporation and you paid $600 or more for services. A few common exceptions are attorneys, who always get a 1099, and lanlords--if you pay rent to someone other than a corporation, you need to issue a 1099 for that, too.

Speaking of 1099s, there has been a lot of worry and talk and concern over the proposed new 1099 requirements. These new requirements do not affect any 1099s prepared for the 2010 tax year. It's not guaranteed, but there is a lot of talk that the new requirements will be repealed or modified before they go into affect. For the 2010 tax year the changes aren’t an issue.

If you’re really concerned about them, your congressional representative is the best person to voice your concerns or complaints to.

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

Humor

How do you know when an accountant is on holiday?

He doesn't wear a tie to work and comes in after 8.30.

 
Tax Deadlines

December 15

- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month
- Corporations - 4th Quarter Estimate Due

December 31

- Last Day to Open KEOGH account for 2010 deposits

Important Year-End Information: E-File Unavailability

- Social Security Administration and Intuit E-File Unavailability Dates
The Social Security Administration (SSA) and Intuit will not accept any W-2 submissions from December 3, 2010, through December 16, 2010. During this time, the SSA and Intuit will be preparing for the 2010 W-2/W-3 submissions.

The last day to submit 2009 W-2/W-3s through QuickBooks is December 2, 2010.

- Internal Revenue Service E-File Unavailability Dates
The IRS will not accept Forms 940, 941, and 944 via E-File from December 14, 2010, through January 3, 2011, due to year-end preparation for 2010 filings. Enrollments will also not be available via E-File during this time.

Please note that if you attempt to E-File through QuickBooks during the periods noted above, the filing will not go through and you will be advised of the next filing availability window.

Tech Talk With Tom...

Setting up a Wireless Network

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a client asking me to come help with some technical problems on his network. This client had just recently moved into a home office and needed to reconfigure the connection options on his computer(s). I noticed that although the client had a wireless router, all of his computers--including 2 laptops--were hardwired to the network.

After a brief conversation, it turned out that he really wanted the laptops to be wireless, but didn’t know how to get it all set up. No problem! It only took about 5 minutes and the client was up and running (figuratively speaking, of course) with wireless laptops.

Here is how you can quickly setup a wireless network in your home or office:

Step 1: Configure the Router
- Change the default password for admin access. This is usually located on the Setup screen.
- Change the network name so that you’ll recognize it when you attempt to connect your computer to the network.
- # Enable DHCP on the router.
- Enable wireless security. WPA is best, but if you have older computers, you may need to use WEP.

Step 2: Connect your computer
-
In the system tray you should see your wireless connection tool. Right-click that.
- Select “View Available Networks”.
- Select your network from the dialog box.
- Enter the WPA password you selected for the network.

And there you have it! Repeat step 2 for any computers on your network and in less than 30 minutes you can enjoy the freedom of a wireless network.

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

Spotlight On...

Carol Mikel, Next Level Office Solutions

How did you choose your business name?

When I started my business I went with what I knew how to do: secretarial work. I started a company called Precision Secretarial Solutions in November 2006. As my business grew, so did I. I had been thinking quite a while about changing the company name. Precision Secretarial Solutions wasn’t conveying the message I wanted it to any longer. I always had a line on my marketing materials that said “By working together, we can each take our business to the next level.” I thought using the phrase “Next Level” would be a great idea! So, I changed the name to Next Level Office Solutions. I believe this will be a more accurate representation of what I do for small business owners.

Is there an interesting or amusing story about the name of your business or the early days of starting your biz that you'd like to share?

I knew I wanted to incorporate the words “Next Level” into my business name. Little did I realize there were other VA companies who use that same phrase. I was convinced I was an original! I went through several different name variations before finding a name no one else had!

Tell us about your ideal client...

I like to say my ideal client is that person that spends their day in their car and uses it as their office. Usually it is that small one or two person business that needs someone to help them with proposals, spreadsheets, marketing materials, or special projects, including social media. Things that they don’t have time to do because they are not in an office for very long during the day.

Do you have something important that you would like to share?

Remember, before actually filing the name for your business, check to see if the domain name you want is available. I finally found a solution that worked for me but I think this is something that everyone needs to take into consideration before making that final decision on a business name.

To find out more about Carol, check out her website at Next Level Office Solutions. If you're into social media, you can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

 
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 Patty@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.