March 2008  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 5 Issue 3   www.offassist.com
Looking Back and Marching Forward
Is it really already March? Am I the only one who looked at the calendar and just stared? Is it REALLY 2008? Wow.

It's been a whirlwind year already. February was so nutty I completely forget to mention that last month marked OffAssist's 6th anniversary. How far we have come from our first single client to what we've built today. To say that Tom and I are proud of what we have grown would be an understatement. I am very proud of myself. Oh the places we've been and the places we'll go! (with apologies to Dr. Seuss).

Now, to show you how crazy my February really was, I forgot to say a big newsletter-y Happy 5th Birthday to Cassie Girl!

Now then, back to March. Nine years and one child into my and Tom's marriage OffAssist was born. Yes, this month marks our 15th wedding anniversary and, yes, the man is a saint! After all, he's put up with me all these years :)

It's also my birthday, but we won't talk about that - Dy still has blue sombrero pics from the last time I confessed to this - or the new grey that is showing up... :)

March also marks my final month as president of IVAA. It's been a wild, intense year and I am so proud of the things the Board and I have accomplished in the last 12 months.

Happy Spring, everyone! And don't forget Daylight Savings Time starts extra early this year, on March 9.

In this issue...
  • Do expectations influence outcome? Read this month's article and decide.
  • March tax deadlines and correction.
  • 5 Questions with the authors of VA: The Series in the Spotlight.
  • Maximize your mileage with help from our Quickbooks Tip.
  • Find computers your network has lost with Tech Talk.

What Do you Expect?
by Kevin Eikenberry

When something goes wrong (anywhere - in your office, at headquarters, in the national news, even around the dinner table reviewing your family's day) have you ever heard (or said), "Well, what did you expect?" Usually that question is followed by a knowing glance, a wistful shaking of the head or an ironic laugh.

Yet when something goes right, people don't ask the same question. Instead those successes typically are chalked up to hard work, or even to luck.

Is it possible that expectations (i.e. "what did you expect?") play a role in only those things that go bad or less than desired? I don't think so.

At some level, we believe expectations matter, or we wouldn't ask the question when things go badly.

In reality, we have known for a long time that expectations matter - consider this:
"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being."
That was written by the German writer and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - a long time ago (he died in 1842). Why would we treat people in a certain way if we didn't expect they could live up to it?

So let me ask you a question.

What do you expect...

...of your co-workers?
...of your team?
...of your Customers?
...of your boss?
...of your relationships?
...of your family?
...of yourself?

Interestingly we always have expectations. Perhaps yours are generally positive, perhaps they are positive in some situations or with some people, or perhaps you keep your expectations low because "you don't want to be disappointed" (if the latter is the case, I'm guessing at some level you still are disappointed). Or, maybe your expectations are completely subconscious - you never give them a thought, one way or the other.

Once we believe, or are reminded, that expectations can play a powerful role in modifying the outcomes of events (even if that role is invisible), we can determine what we are going to do about it. So, it makes sense to be more conscious about our expectations so we can examine and modify them as desired.

I believe there are two steps in this process: choose your expectations and create a habit.

Make a Choice
Once your expectations are conscious, you have a choice to make. And that choice really comes down to answering the question "What do I really want?" and then creating an expectation mirroring that desire. Create the expectation and then think about it regularly. If you are noticing a small (or large) voice of doubt in your mind, you haven't set the expectation clearly or firmly yet.

Remember you can expect great success, and still be happy or satisfied when the outcome isn't perfect. Expectations alone (with our effort, action, etc.) aren't a golden ticket or a guarantee, but everything else being equal, positive expectations will positively impact your outcome. So why not choose positive expectations?

Create a Habit
Perhaps your conscious (or subconscious) expectations have been low for a long time, or maybe you have never considered this as a choice before. Either way, when you make the choice to have positive conscious expectations once, you can then make that a new habit. Regularly consider a future event, small or large (how the meeting will go, whether the project will be a success, if your kids will get in before curfew), and set your expectations of that situation positively.

Create the habit of a positive expectancy and you will be surprised how quickly your results will change for the better.

This invisible, almost magical, process is real. Your expectations are already impacting your results. My challenge to you is to raise your level of expectations as a way to improve your results, satisfaction and happiness.

The choice is yours.

Article courtesy of www.articlesbase.com

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, "Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill" at RemarkableLeadershipBook.com.


QuickBooks Tip
Tracking Vehicle Mileage
Did you know that QuickBooks can help you track mileage for the vehicles used in your business? The mileage reports can be used to help determine tax deductions at year-end or help you track mileage to be billed to your customers.

To get started using this handy feature:
  1. Choose Enter Vehicle Mileage from the Company menu.
  2. Enter the current IRS mileage rate by selecting Mileage Rates. Enter an Effective Date and the IRS rate, currently .505 for 2008, then select Close.
  3. Add a vehicle by selecting Vehicle List, then New.
  4. Press OK when finished and your set up is complete.
To enter mileage once you've set up all your company vehicles:
  1. Choose Enter Vehicle Mileage from the Company menu.
  2. Select the vehicle to record mileage for.
  3. Enter the trip start and end dates, the odometer readings or total trip mileage.
  4. This is also where you can assign the mileage to your customer and select the billable checkbox.
  5. Record any reference notes, then select Save.
Several reports can be run from this entry screen by selecting the Mileage Reports dropdown box. Billable mileage can be accessed from within your sales form by selecting the Add Time/Costs button, choosing the Mileage tab, then marking the mileage to be billed.

QuickBooks offers this convenient solution to ensure business owners don't miss out on billing their customers or deducting their business-related mileage.

Home Auction Live!

I am happiest when I am working. I genuinely enjoy helping my clients find the time to do what they love and get excited when I see their businesses grow and prosper.

A few years ago we featured Robert Grunnah's Castle Hill Investments in this newsletter. Well, Robert's business has grown and prospered to the point where he is expanding into new areas. This month marks the inauguration of Robert's newest venture, Home Auction Live!

Home Auction Live! is a website and live auction that helps motivated sellers sell their properties. It can also be a great way for a first time buyer or real estate investor to acquire property, since auction prices are typically lower than listed prices for the surrounding areas.

For more information, check out their website at www.homeauctionlive.com and FAQ.
 
 
Tax Deadlines
March 17*
- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for February issued payroll
- US Corporate Income Tax Return , Form 1120
- US S-Corporation Income Tax Return, Form 1120S
March 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers

April 15
- US Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040
- US Fiduciary Income Tax Return, Form 1041
- US Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065
- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for March issued payroll

April 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly and quarterly filers

April 30
- Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941
- Employer's Quarterly TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)

*Yes, we said it was March 15 in last month's newsletter, and normally it is. This year the 15th is a Saturday so the deadline is Monday, March 17. Enjoy the weekend!
Tech Talk With Tom...
Help! I lost a computer!

No, it's not what you think. This time of year I seem to get a lot of calls about connectivity. Even networks that have been running for years with no problems can suddenly have one computer become invisible to the network and inaccessible to other computers on that network. Here are some quick tips to help your network find that computer and makes it, and its files, usable again.

First the really obvious:

1. Is your network card installed and the appropriate drivers in place?
  • Check under Control Panel > Device Manager
  • Open the computer and make sure the card is properly seated.
2. Is the computer plugged into the network?
  • Make sure cords are not in traffic areas.
  • Bundle cords so as to not look like snacks for your favorite pet.
  • Check the router/hub end of the cable as well.
3. Do both the computer you want to see AND your computer have a shared drive or folder?
  • You must have something shared to enable sharing which lets you see the other computer.
Once you've checked the obvious and it is still broken, ask yourself:

1. Is there a firewall installed?
  • Zone Alarm, Windows Defender, etc.
  • Open Network Connections. Is there a little closed padlock on the connection to the network?
  • Be warned: turning off firewalls completely can open your computer to external attack. Always keep a firewall between your network and the internet.
2. Are the two computers on the same network?
  • Do the two computers have a similar IP address?
    i. Go to Start > Run
    ii. Type Cmd press enter
    iii. Type "ipconfig" (minus the quotations marks) and press enter
    iv. Compare the first 3 numbers of the IP address of both computers.
  • Can you communicate at all with the other computer?
    i. Go to Start > Run
    ii. Type Cmd press enter
    iii. Type Ping XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX where the X's represent the IP address for the other computer (that you got in step 2).
These steps will not find all of the problems with an XP network, but they will give you a good starting point from which to call a technician if needed. In most cases someone has installed a program or accidentally changed a setting and following the above will let you reconnect right away.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.
Spotlight On...
Five Questions with the Authors of Virtual Assistant: The Series

Here at OffAssist we recently got lucky enough to have a chance to pick the brains of two of the most successful VAs in the business: Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing and Kelly Poelker of Another 8 Hours, the authors of Virtual Assistant: The Series. We asked five questions and here's what these bright ladies had to say.

Q: What made you decide to write a start-up book for virtual assistants?

A: Virtual Assistant - The Series (VAS) is actually the 3rd edition, the original was released back in 2001 as an e-book. At the time there was...a huge need for consolidation of information in a simple to follow format - start up to daily operations and beyond. With each release we've made enhancements to continually offer a comprehensive how-to guide in a motivational and inspirational way. VAS is also utilized by a rising number of colleges that are implementing virtual assistant certification programs into their business and office technology curriculums. We've been instrumental in helping a few of them get approval for their programs.

Q: How long did it take once you decided to write the book, from concept to publication?

A: That's hard to say. Based on the original e-book, it took roughly eight months. We are currently planning the 4th edition.

Q: What did you learn in the process? Is there anything you would do differently?

A: We learned how to utilize technology and have faith in each other. Looking back at the first edition of the printed book there are definitely things we would have done differently, and we continue to implement those discoveries with the release of each publication. When you write a book like this it comes under great scrutiny by its very talented audience. And for us, it's kind of like your new computer--as soon as you crank it up for the first time, it's out of date and we have to start working on the next edition. Kelly recalls doing a book signing at the 2003 VA Conference when we released the second edition in paperback. She was utterly amazed at the people who brought their old, dog-eared copies of the first comb bound book with post-it notes stuck out in every direction to have it autographed. It was then we realized we had accomplished what we set out to do; we just needed to continue to do it better. The transformation from original e-book to where the books are today is incredible.

Q: Is there an amusing story or anecdote from the process of putting it all together you would like to share?

A: Probably the greatest story to tell of our writing experience is that we wrote four books together without ever having met in person. We first met at the 2005 VA Conference in St. Louis. Diana walked up to Kelly and started talking to her and Kelly had no idea who she was for the longest time. Finally, the light went off and she realized it was Diana. Janet Jordan was standing there with them and that was one of her favorite stories throughout the conference. We've become great friends and colleagues over the years. It's been an incredible journey and we look forward to a lot more.

Q: Lastly, is there anything you want to tell our readers that I haven't asked you about? A: Most importantly, we'd like to say thanks to everyone who owns a copy of one of our books. Our original goal was not to achieve fame and fortune as authors. We set out to share knowledge, expertise, and resources with those looking down the path of Virtual Assistance. Along the way we're also able to help VAs find a new path to revitalize their business. As authors, we are thrilled when VAs recommend our book to others searching for all the right information. And when we get unsolicited recommendations in national press like The Wall Street Journal, it's a huge rush. But nothing compares to the personal satisfaction we feel when a VA contacts us just to say thanks and share their success story, whether it be from reading our books or following advice we've offered in coaching or one of our presentations. So keep believing in yourself and never give up on the dream of starting your own business, or taking your business to the next level.

We invite readers to visit any of our sites at:

www.va-theseries.com
www.virtualassistantstartups.com
www.virtualwordpublishing.com.

And keep watch for future announcements on the grand opening of Academy of Virtual Professionals, Kelly's new online learning center that will offer a 16-week program based on the Virtual Assistant - The Series publications.

Thanks for taking the time for us ladies.

We said it as recently as last month in this column, and we'll say it again: If you have not read this book, you need to!
 
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.

Humor: Customer Service
I'm not saying that the customer service in my bank is bad or anything... It's just that when I went in the other day and asked the clerk to check my balance, she leaned over her counter and pushed me!

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 VA Lab Designs.