January 2013
Volume 10, Issue #1

Staying Sane in the Crazy Times

Not sure where 2012 went, but welcome to 2013!

Anyone who knows me knows that January is my crazy time! It gets a little nuts for bookkeepers helping clients prepare for tax season and there’s those dreaded W-2s and 1099s to get out by month end. This year I decided to make a conscious choice not to let it be so crazy. I’ve made regular plans that will get me out of the house and away from my computer (dinners with friends, book club meetings, workouts) so that I can be at my best when I am working.

I also did something a little sneaky :-)

In addition to closing out the bookkeeping for clients this month, I’ll also be preparing for the VA League Retreat coming up next month. February isn’t high season for much of anything except florists and chocolatiers, so it’s a good time for a lot of VAs. For me, it’s a PERFECT TIME to run away. The retreat is going to be great! I’m excited because this is a planning retreat, one that will allow everyone there to come with a goal and execute that goal while there. Scheduling it right after the end of January was Lanel’s and my treat to ourselves, giving us something to look forward to when we think we may lose our minds this month.

What about you? What strategies do you use to get yourself through the times when your business takes over your real life? Shoot a note to me or our editor and if we get enough answers we’ll put them together in a tip column next month.


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In this issue...

Article: Are You REALLY Ready to Grow Your Service-Based Business?

Bookkeeping Tip: Customizing your Preferences

Tax Deadlines January 2013/February 2013

Spotlight on 2013 VA League Retreat

Tech Talk: Computing on Your Phone

Humor: Buzzword Builder

Are You REALLY Ready to Grow Your Service-Based Business?

By Carrie Sharpshair

Are you constantly wishing your business would grow but you just can't find the magic fertilizer?

You know that as the chief everything officer you must juggle multiple roles. These roles typically break down into three categories: the entrepreneur (vision, brainstorming, new ideas, etc.); the technician (this is the "thing" you do - the service your provide); and the manager (the taskmaster). It's that third and often times elusive role that stumps new business owners the most. Let's face it, it's the least fun role of all.

But if you really stop and think about it you know deep down you can't do it all alone. You do know that, right? If you think you can (and that's totally cool), are you prepared to accept the consequences? Last I checked we each get the same 24 hours in a day, and at some point even the hardiest of us needs sleep every now and then! Being able to plan for and work with your resources is a great way to begin flexing that managerial muscle.

The next few articles will give you four specific steps to G-R-O-W your "crew" - this is your team of go-to people. Whether you are hiring employees, bringing on independent contractors, working with specific specialists, etc. being ready to bring them on is really important. Starting off on the right foot will help to ensure a great transition as well as a great outcome.

In this first article we're going to explore how to Get Clear (this is the G in G-R-O-W).

Getting clear is the valuable first step. If you aren't clear in your own mind what you need and why you need it, how can anyone help you grow? Here are three steps and action items you can take right now to help gain clarity on what you need right now:

Step 1: Identify What You Need

Action! Hurry - pick ONE thing you want to change in your business to help it grow. You got it? Write it down. Be very concrete here (X% more revenue, X# of new clients, X# of new visitors to your website, X% customer satisfaction rating, reduce your expenses by X%, keep working hours to X# per week, etc.).

Step 2: Outline Why It's Important

Action! Next - write down why it's important. Don't think too much about it. Just write it down.

Step 3: Determine Requirements

Action! Now - write down what your requirements are. Here's where you are combining what you both need and want. For example if you identified the need to establish a monthly newsletter to go out to your clients. In your requirements you might consider things like: how your customers will receive the newsletter, when it will go out, what content areas you want to include, what the look and feel should be, who is actually doing the work, etc.

Following these three simple steps will assist you in gaining clarity so that you can begin communicating with others what you need and why it's important. In the next segment we're going to look at what it takes to Realize Your Strengths and Limitations (the "R" in G-R-O-W).

Until then, enjoy a bit of clarity!

About The Author:Are you a chief "everything" officer struggling to keep all the plates spinning and worried that details are falling through the cracks? How would you like to take the first steps towards planning and acting more strategically, so you can truly enjoy a smooth and profitable business? Visit http://yescarrie.com for a FREE audio class and guidebook "Success Essentials for Chief Everything Officers". Discover the #1 strategy to fuel your motivation, learn the key to having your family and friends take you seriously, develop a healthy success mindset, and more!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles .com/7331771

Bookkeeping Tip: Customizing your Preferences

After starting a new QB file (desktop version), save yourself a lot of time when entering transactions by customizing your preferences. Go to Edit> Preferences> General> My Preferences. Make sure you check the box next to "Automatically remember account or transaction information". You may then choose either: Automatically recall last transaction for this name OR Pre-fill accounts for vendor based on past entries.

Using QuickBooks Online? Not to worry. Go to Company> Preferences> Company. Make sure you check the box next to "Enable AutoRecall". You can always change the transaction before you record it. This is a major time-saver when entering data. It only takes a minute to set these preferences and well worth it!

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

Susan Kovalesky is the owner of Balanced Bookkeeping Solutions and is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, a certification updated annually. She is also a team member of OffAssist. Follow her on Facebook.

Tax Deadlines

January 15
- 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

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

February 28
- File W-3, W-2's with Social Security Admin
- File US transmittal of US information Returns
- Mortgage Interest file Form 1098s with IRS

Spotlight: 2013 VA League Retreat

Spotlight: Set Your Intentions at the 2013 VA League Retreat

The Virtual Assistance League is the brainchild of Candy Beauchamp (our fearless leader) and Success Solutions coach Lanel Taylor. Started in 2011, the VA League is dedicated to helping VAs at all levels build their businesses by building the relationships that are vital to success. Next month Candy and Lanel are realizing a new vision - holding the very first VAL Retreat. The retreat, an intense, results-oriented event, will be February 6-8, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.

What this retreat IS:

  • A casual “down and dirty” working retreat for VAs looking to make a positive change in their business
  • For VAs who want to set a goal and make real progress towards that goal during an intense 2 day retreat
  • VAs that are new or “old” – goals at this retreat are VERY personalized.

What this retreat IS NOT:

  • A “sit in your seat and listen to a speaker” conference
  • A “party all the time” conference
  • For VAs who just want to get away for a while

They want attendees to set a single specific goal for this retreat. Why? So that by the time they leave they’ll have a plan with actionable steps for achieving that goal. The goal of the VAL retreat is to help every attendee move from idea to action to accomplished.

Maybe you’re a new VA who needs to develop a business plan. Maybe you’ve been around for a while but need to develop a marketing strategy. Maybe you’re an experienced business owner who needs to reevaluate your work/life balance. Whatever your goal for your business in 2013, attending the VAL retreat can make it happen.

This retreat is NOT for the faint of heart or for those that just want to have a party with their friends. That’s not to say Candy & Lanel don’t totally plan on having some fun, but this is a working retreat.

You can find out more about the 2013 VAL Planning Retreat at VALRetreat.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 Patty@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

Fine print: We do reserve the right not to feature anyone and a request is not a guarantee that you will make it into the newsletter. Also, if your news, announcement, etc. is time sensitive or tied to a specific date, please let Patty know in your email.

Tech Talk: Computing on Your Phone

By Tom Beauchamp

I read an article yesterday that said there will be only one winner in the PC vs. Tablet vs. Console war. That winner will be the Smart Phone. I have to say that I can really see the truth in this. I only have to look at my e-mail. Every single one ends with "Sent from my <smart phone type here>."

Yes, there is still a ways to go before a smart phone manufacturer truly replaces your desktop or laptop. However, many features that used to only be available on larger machines are now common place on our phones:

Screenshots: (A picture is worth a thousand words)

On Android: Press the power button and the volume down button at the same time. An image of your current screen will be saved to your image gallery.

On iPhone: Press Home and Sleep buttons at the same time. An image will be saved to your Camera Roll.

Folders: (Desktop organization)

On Android: Drag an app icon on top of another and a folder will pop up.

On iPhone: Tap and hold an app till all apps start shaking. Then, pretty much the same as Android.

Voice-to-Text: (For hands free note taking)

On Android: On any screen where you could type, hit the microphone icon instead. Then, talk clearly to the phone. Your text will appear as if you typed it.

On iPhone: Dragon Dictation looks to be the best choice here. It is also free. You can get it from the iTunes store.

While these three things may not seem like much, it wasn't long ago that Voice-to-Text software packages went for hundreds of dollars. Whoever would have thought we would have enough applications on our phone that we would need to organize them? As for screenshots, where would all those text message fails be? (You could also use it as a quick way to share part of a conversation.)

While I’m not ready to give up my two 21” monitors yet, I can definitely see a trend here...a trend toward more mobile power, accessibility, and options.

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

Humor: Buzzword Builder

Ever wonder where marketers and managers come up with the terms they like to bandy about? We think we found the answer (see below).

Pick a random three-digit number and create a new term from the lists below:

0. balanced
1. total
2. integrated
3. compatible
4. synchronized
5. optimal
6. responsive
7. functional
8. parallel
9. systemizes

0. Management
1. Organization
2. reciprocal
3. monitored
4. digital
5. modular
6. transitional
7. Incremental
8. third-generation
9. policy

0. contingency
1. Hardware (or software)
2. projection
3. time-frame
4. concept
5. programming
6. mobility
7. capability
8. flexibility
9. options

Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to you; it won’t mean anything to anyone else either, but no one will want to admit it. Propose systemized reciprocal options (929) at your next meeting. Tell folks you want to achieve optimal transitional flexibility (568)! Offer to create an integrated monitored projection (262). The possibilities are endless--and meaningless, but golly you’ll sound smart!

Our editor insisted we tell you that OffAssist doesn’t endorse this sort of writing :-)

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.


This newsletter is published monthly by Candy Beauchamp of OffAssist. © 2013

Much of the advice in this newsletter is based upon the research, professional and personal experiences of the authors. If the reader has any questions concerning any material or procedure mentioned, the publisher and authors strongly suggest seeking the advice of a qualified CPA or other professional.