January 2011  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 8 Issue 1  www.offassist.com

It's a New Year!

It's January. I'd like to be brilliant, talk about the new year, new beginnings, anything really, except 1099s or W-2s. But, it's January and I'm a bookkeeper, so those are pretty much my life until the post office closes at 5pm on Monday January 30th. Not that I'm counting down the hours or anything.

Every business has busy seasons and Spring is mine, thanks to the IRS. I'll just have to be brilliant next month. Or tell you about my kid's birthday for the umpteenth year in a row. Tune in next month to find out!

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Lower Social Security Taxes!

Employees: Remember, only 4.2% will be withheld for SS from your checks soon! - great blog here

Employers, this may be a hassle for you to change in your accounting and payroll systems, which is why Uncle Sam gives you until January 31, 2010 to implement it. See the article above for more details.

In this issue...


This month's article is aimed at those building a consulting practice, but the general ideas are sound for any solo entrepreneur who wants to grow their business---because, really, no one can do it all.

Grow Your Small Business Consulting Team
By Kyle Tully


It may only take one person to start small business consulting firm but having a team can make that business grow. Owners of sole companies initially engage in multiple tasks to save on costs particularly before revenues start pouring in.

This may be possible at first when operations are limited to only a handful of activities and clients. But as more clients and projects enter the picture, doing everything yourself can take up much of your time, attention and energy, preventing you from taking more work and eventually burning you out.

In the end, your income either remains the same while you work more hours or your income declines from reduced efficiency.

The small business consulting solution -

Organizing a team to perform specific tasks in your business is the best way to grow your client base. With more hands and minds at work, you can delegate the ordinary functions to your team so that you can focus on more important aspects like business planning, marketing and expansion.

How to use teams in business

Contrary to the usual practice of starting solo, you should consider setting up a team early on in your consulting business. You need not hire personnel to be your employees to form a team. A good team can be composed of skilled free lancers who, just like you, are looking for more clients.

You can easily find qualified people to take care of the following:

* Content writing
* Website creation
* SEO
* Research
* Programming

Changing your mindset

If being a perfectionist is one of your traits, you may have to learn to change this mindset if it prevents you from trusting others to do most of the hard work for you.

This is often the problem with business owners who possess highly specialized skills. Their tendency to do everything by themselves increases as they feel the need to produce only the best and nothing less.

Bear in mind, however, that clients who rely on your expertise won't be able to tell the difference between a grade A or B output from you, and will pay you the same amount regardless.

Setting up a team of experts can be a time-consuming effort requiring extensive search and screening. Turning to outsourcers with a ready stable of qualified service providers will significantly reduce the time it will take to build your team and should be a regular activity in your business of small business consulting.

Check out http://www.ConsultingTycoon.com and register now for your FREE "Fast Start Kit" and "Consulting Success Secrets" interview to get started right away in the small business consulting industry.

Article source: Ezine Articles

QuickBooks Tip

This is bookkeeping tip rather than a QuickBooks tip this month.

Q: With the new year starting, I’ve determined to stay in better control of my business bookkeeping. What can I do so I’m not scrambling at the end of the year to catch everything up?

A: As with many areas of your business, January is a great time to look at your procedures and make any necessary adjustments. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of reviewing your finances regularly so you know where you stand and can make necessary adjustments when possible.

Depending on the volume of your business, I highly recommend setting aside one day a week (or at the very least one day a month) to update all your financial records. Personally, I set aside Fridays in my business to work on my business records and review where my business stands. It may seem overwhelming to work on your finances every single week but, when you get in the habit, it becomes routine and can actually become very easy. Believe me, it’s much easier to remember where that weird debit charge came from when it was only three days ago rather than six months ago.

January is also a good time to review how your business did last year. Was your income level where you thought it was? Are there areas that aren’t as profitable for your business as you thought they’d be? Are there expenses that surprise you? Are there services that you’re offering that you need to evaluate their profitability? In most cases, it’s too late to make changes for 2010 but you can see areas that you can make changes or improvements for 2011.

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

Humor

An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and so he decides to go to see his doctor. "Doctor, I just can't get to sleep at night," complains the man.

"Have you tried counting sheep?" inquired the doctor.

The accountant replied, "That's the problem, Doc. I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it!"

 
Tax Deadlines

January 17

- Individuals, Farmers & Fishermen Pay 4th Quarter Estimated Tax Payment
- Estates & Trusts 4th Estimated Tax Payment
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

January 31

- File Form 2290 - Heavy Highway Vehicles
- Furnish W-2s recipients
- Furnish 1099 MISC to recipients
- Furnish 1099 Interest to recipients
- Furnish 1099 Dividends to recipients
- 4th Quarter Payroll Reports
- File Employers Annual Payroll Reports
- File Annual Payroll for Agricultural employees
- 4th Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher

NOTE: 2011 Mileage Rates Released

Despite the fact that many predict that the cost of gas will inch up to $4 per gallon by the holidays, the standard mileage rates for 2011 are just slightly different than those for 2010. The IRS has announced the standard mileage rates for 2011 as follows:.

  • 51 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

Rates are adjusted by the IRS each year to account for increasing (or in some cases, decreasing) costs of operating a car, truck or van for various purposes. The one exception is the lower rate for miles for charitable purposes: that rate is fixed by Congress and hasn’t been adjusted since 1998.

Tech Talk With Tom...

Setting up a Wireless Network

I am always surprised by what my kids are learning in school. My 4th grader is learning all about animated slides in PowerPoint. My 2nd grader is becoming a speed demon on the keyboard. The other day I was lucky enough to sit in on one of the, “Computer Basics,” classes and I'm amazed at what is considered, “The Basics,” today.

So, I thought for this issue I’d take a step back and look at some tricks and tips that just about everyone could use to save time, make things easier, or save yourself some heartache.

Computer Basics:

  1. Whatever tech product you buy today will be obsolete within a year. I usually plan on this as a method to save money. Watch for announcements of new product releases and watch for sales on the outgoing technology.
  2. You do not have to type "Error! Hyperlink reference not valid" into your browser. Browsers know what they are doing (for the most part). You can also skip the "www." part of the address. I have even found that, for popular sites, if I type in the sites name (i.e., OffAssist), I’ll get the webpage I was looking for.
  3. Just like in real life, the Recycle Bin does not empty itself. After a while you will need to right-click it and select “Empty.” If you don’t, you’ll be slowing down your computer and using up valuable hard-drive space.
  4. You most probably do not have a deceased Great Uncle in Nigeria, Liberia, Nicaragua, or Kenya. It is even less likely that he is a millionaire and even LESS likely someone wants to give you $30,000,000 to move his money out of the country.

So there you have it! Some nifty “Computer Basics” tips and advice guaranteed to save you time, stress, or heartache. Now I’m off to empty the recycle bin (the real life one. It is overflowing, and taking up valuable office space).

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

Spotlight On...

The OffAssist Team

I'm the face of OffAssist. When you look at our Twitter account, you see me, Candy Beauchamp. When you look on the website, you see me. When you read our testimonials, most of them talk about, you guessed it, me.

But the truth of the matter is that is hasn't been all about me in a long time. Yes, OffAssist is my business and my baby, but it's been a team effort for a while now. Learning to delegate the things I did for myself that weren't bookkeeping or growing my business was hard. The decision to bring on additional bookkeepers so I could take on more clients nearly killed me. But, in the end, this whole team thing worked and continues to work. Without my team my business would not have been able to grow the way it has.

I added the "Team" page to my website in 2006 because I wanted to acknowledge the people who help me help you. If you've never looked it over you should, because these are the people who keep me organized, keep me sane, and make me look as though I am doing it all.

 



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.