February 2007  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
2/7/2007           Volume 4 Issue 2   www.offassist.com
Show a little love to your tax professional.

Whew. I love what I do, really I do, but I am always so very glad when January is over. It's time for a brief break before the other half of tax season kicks in, the March-April period.

Which reminds me. Those of you out there, you know who you are, the ones who feel sweat beading on their forehead at the thought of actually filing your business' taxes, who wait til the last minute to get started--don't. It really does make it more painful, for you, for your tax professional, for the people who have to live and work with you or your tax professional...You see where I'm going with this, right?

Make your life easier. Do like I do and take a breather after getting out all those W-2s and 1099s, then ease back into tax mode. Start the groundwork now and just get it done. Then, when everyone else is rushing to file in April, you can be out there growing your business.

Happy Valentine's Day, and Happy 4th Birthday to my Cassie Girl!

In this issue...
Creating A Business Plan That Makes Tracks

- by Roger Kramer

Creating a business plan is an important step. Often it is the step most often missed by new business owners that don't want to be bothered with paperwork. However, consider this, for those entrepreneurs that create a solid business plan success in business nearly doubles. With new business failures so statistically high in the first five years why wouldn't you want to increase your odds of success?

So why does a business plan matter? It's your road map to the future. Would you get in a car to go on vacation without a map to get you to your desired destination? Not unless you've gone the route a few times previously, right? And since this is your first go around with your new business, it's wise to create a business plan to increase your odds for success and give you a definite direction.

A business plan is also used for securing capital from banks, venture capitalists, investors and the like. None of which will give you the time of day unless you've done your homework. If you don't care about the future of your business, why should they?

So, as they say, "Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan". Beginning the business plan is often the most intimidating part so let us help you along. It's not so difficult and can even be quite fun. Imagine that? Building your business plan is a little like building confidence in your future and that always feels good.

Let's start with what elements are in a business plan.
  1. Executive Summary: This is a quick description of everything you will be outlining in detail below. A swift summary of the company, its products, services, and outlook for the future based on simple statistics.
  2. Table Of Contents: Just like a book, the Business Plan has a Table of Contents for quick perusal.
  3. The Company: This is a more in depth outline of the company, what it does, how it's organized, it's goals, direction, history, tasks, profits, etc.
  4. Products and Services: An in depth description of the product or service. Basically, exactly what your business will be offering for sale.
  5. Production: What is necessary to produce your product or deliver your service. This includes raw materials.
  6. Marketing: A detailed marketing agenda including what and how you will advertise. You can take this straight from your marketing plan outlined in the Marketing Section.
  7. Competition: A complete evaluation of your competition and how your business will meet the need in a different or better manner.
  8. Obstacles: What hurdles will your business be met with? How will these hurdles be overcome?
  9. Finances: Cost of the set up of your business as well as the day to day financial needs for overhead and marketing.
  10. Milestones: This is the future time line of your business.
These are the basic elements of building your business plan. Begin by making a rough outline for each section and then build to a finished product. There are many books that offer guidance for these important planning steps. When you take the time to plan your business your business will reward you with a long future of financial stability. So jump in and make your future happen today.

Roger Kramer is the owner of AlphaServices. Alpha Services is designed to assist you whether you are just starting a business, wanting to fine tune your bottom line, planning to expand or are in serious trouble with your internal operations or suppliers. Developing business plans is our specialty so be sure to visit our Business Plan Center. We help you move toward success!
QuickBooks Tip
Check Out Your Year–End P&L

Getting ready for taxes?

Before you ship your QuickBooks off to your tax preparer, why not take a cursory look at the detail in your profit and loss accounts. Here's how:
  • Click on "Reports" from the toolbar menu
  • Then click on "Company & Financial"
  • Then highlight and click on "Profit & Loss Standard"
  • Change the date range to 01/01/06 - 12/31/06
  • Scroll through each account and double click when you are over the dollar value for each account line.
This will reveal the detail behind that account and if you see a transaction that should be in a different account, you simply double click on that transaction and it will take you to the original entry where you can make any necessary changes.

For example, I'm reviewing detail in "Office Supplies" and I find a transaction for ExxonMobil that should be under "Fuel". I just double click on that transaction which takes me to the original entry where I can change to "Fuel" then "Save and Close" to return to the detail report.

You can also review the detail on the Balance Sheet in the same manner by selecting "Balance Sheet" instead of "Profit & Loss Standard".
Important Tax Deadlines
February 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for January issued payroll

February 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers

February 28
- Original/Copy A of the Forms W-2 and W-3 must be mailed/postmarked to the Social Security Administration

- Original/Copy A of the Forms 1099 and Form 1096 must be mailed/postmarked to the Internal Revenue Service
March 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for January issued payroll

March 15
- U.S. Corporate Income Tax Return
- U.S. S-Corporation Income Tax Return
March 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers
Spotlight On...
Lanel Taylor - Taylored Office Solutions

This month we wanted you all to join us in welcoming Lanel Taylor, of Taylored Office Solutions, to the OfffAssist team.

Lanel recently received IVAA's EthicsCheck and Certified Virtual Assistant designations, and has been working in bookkeeping, in one way or another, for 13+ years. When not working, Lanel enjoys camping and spending time with family and friends.

Find out more about Lanel, and everyone on the OffAssist team, on our website.

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.

An Accountant & His Frog

A accountant was crossing the road one day when a frog called out to him and said: "If you kiss me, I'll turn back into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again, saying, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for one week." The accountant took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to the pocket.

Then the frog cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for a week, and do anything you want." Again the accountant took the frog out, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.

Finally the frog asked: "What is the matter with you? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

He replied, "Look I'm an accountant. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but talking frog, now that's cool."

Tech Talk With Tom...
Computer Cleaning, Step-by Step

Ever woke up, made a nice cup of coffee, then sat down at the computer and...nothing.

You know you left it on the night before, but no matter how you move the mouse or tap the keyboard your lovely LCD screen stays black and empty. You know you defragged your computer last week. You've kept your virus definitions up to date and installed the latest security updates from Microsoft, so what is going on?

Well, computer fans pull a lot of dust inside the chassis. If left undisturbed this dust can interfere with ventilation. Things will eventually get very hot, quickly causing parts to fail. If you are one of the lucky ones who has a service contract that covers maintenance, have your computer taken apart and professionally cleaned.

Here are the steps for the rest of us:

Step 1: Check the manual. Some manufacturers will give you step by step instructions. If yours did: follow them.

Step 2: Gather your weapons: a can of compressed air, Endust for Electronics, a soft paint brush, and an anti-static rag.

Step 3: Shutdown and turn off the computer. Do not unplug the computer.

Step 4: Disconnect all peripherals. This includes: printers, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc.

Step 5: Remove computer cover. Your computers manual should provide instructions on this.

Step 6: Ground yourself to the computer with a professional grounding strap if possible. If you do not have one available, always keep one hand in contact with the metal case of the computer.

Step 7: Spray fans, power supply chassis, drive bays, and circuit boards with compressed air.

Step 8: Brush remaining dust out of the case.

Step 9: Spray Endust for Electronics onto the anti-static rag. Wipe the inside and outside of the cover.

Step 10: Replace cover and reconnect all peripherals.

WARNING: Never use a vacuum cleaner in a computer. Even if it says it is for computer or electronics.

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

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.