March 2010  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 7 Issue 3  www.offassist.com

Already March? Where does the time go?

I'm going to South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) this year. Tom went last year and now it's my turn. Yes, it's my first year to attend any of the South by Southwest events. Yes, I realize I live in Austin. I know, I'm sad!

The event looks to be a great time! If any of you folks reading this will be in town for the event, drop me an email and we'll try to hook up for lunch, or coffee, or something. I'm sure I'll be tweeting as well.

Just in case that isn't enough to wear me out during tax season, I'll be heading to the IVAA VA Summit in Phoenix, Arizona, in April. I like attending these things. I admit it. I'm a bit of a conference geek--although, and people who've known me for years laugh when I say this, I'm terribly shy at these things.

I'm excited! Not only am I attending two cool, educational events this Spring, I'm also fulfilling one of my business goals. I made a commitment to myself to attend two conferences this year. That's one resolution done, and school's not even out yet!

How are you doing with your business goals this year?

In this issue...


Have you been to the OffAssist website lately? If you haven't, you should swing by www.offassist.com and check it out -- we've got a brand spanking new look and loads of new content and expanded VA resources.

Are you thinking about changing up your online image, too? Here's a few words of advice on the matter from the web firm (whom we are not clients of or in any way affiliated with), 3imagine:

Questions to Ask Before a Redesign
by Garry Marshall

It is essential for business owners to monitor whether their investment in a website is providing a good return. Are the products or services you provide easy to buy through your website? If the answer to your question is a no, you’re wasting a lot of your money and resources, causing more harm than good.

These are five important questions you need to ask yourself to figure out if it is time for a redesign:

  1. Does the design of your homepage match your core business objective?
    Does your website successfully communicate the main idea of your business? If you have recently changed the focus and line up of your products or services, it is important to change the face of your website to represent the accurate image to your visitors. A re-design becomes necessary in such a scenario .
  2. Are you keeping the most important information and content buried in the deeper pages of your website?
    What you need to carry out is an audit which checks whether the products or services you are providing are easy to buy for any visitor on your website. You need to ensure that all the pertinent information and call-to-actions are easily visible to visitors. This might seem like common sense but we all have experienced frustrations buying online.
  3. Has the size of your website grown significantly?
    If your website is growing continuously and changing at a fast pace, you need to re-consider if your business objectives and missions are being communicated successfully to your target audience. If you have added a new line of products or services, your information needs to be organize a certain way. You can also greatly benefit from adding multimedia information to enhance your message.
  4. Has the content and information on your website become outdated or unnecessary?
    You need to make sure that your potential customers are seeing up-to-date content at all times. Updating specification pages, service pages, promotions and adding new content is a must. If your website seems static, it may appear that you are not an active business.
  5. Have you made sure that your website it up-to-date with the latest design technology?
    If your website has a basic old design, you should probably consider a technology update. Contact a website agency which can suggest the latest, most beautiful and practical designs for your company website.

Any gift to a charity is better than no gift. Start at a level you're comfortable with now. Increase if, or more likely when, you feel able and willing to. Look at what your generosity does for others, and also observe the good that it does for you.

Article source: 3magine is a http://www.3magine.com Toronto Web Design and web development agency specializing in beautiful and usable web design, development, wordpress and cms integration, flash, ajax, social network design and development.

Article courtesy of ArticleRich.com

QuickBooks Tip

QB creating two different entries into my check register

Q: When I enter my customer payments into QB, and then download my banking transactions, QB creates two different entries into my check register. My income looks like the kind of money I would like to make, but alas, it isn’t so.

A: When entering deposits, check that you are depositing funds to the “Undeposited Funds” account and not directly into the bank account.

When you are ready to make your deposit to the bank, click on “Record Deposits”, check all the pending payments to be deposited, ensure the bank account is correct, compare the “deposit total” to your deposit slip and save. When your transactions are downloaded from your bank, the balances will agree and QB should automatically “match” them. This will eliminate the duplicate entry. Unfortunately, you will need to go back to any prior duplicates and delete the entry that is NOT associated with a customer account to avoid “unmatching” payments to invoices.

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

Humor

In honor of St. Patrick's Day:

McQuillan walked into a bar and ordered martini after martini, each time removing the olives and placing them in a jar. When the jar was filled with olives and all the drinks consumed, the Irishman started to leave.

"S'cuse me," said a customer, who was puzzled over what McQuillan had done. "What was that all about?" "Nothing," said the Irishman, "my wife just sent me out for a jar of olives."

Don't forget to wear your green on March 17th!

 
Tax Deadlines

March 15

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for February issued payroll

- U.S. Corporate Income Tax Return

- U.S. S-Corporation Income Tax Return

March 20

- Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filer2

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)

Tech Talk With Tom...

Sharing a Network Drive

Storage. We all either a) want more, or b) need more. Whether it's for clothes, the kids' toys, your mp3s, or your business' files, it needs a place to go. While I can’t help you with the clothes or toys -if you have an easy solution there, please let me know-I can help you with storing your pdf files, documents, mp3s, and the other electronic files that seem to stack higher and higher every day.

Two months ago (Dec 2009) we talked about external hard drives … what to look for and how you can use them. Today we are going to talk about how to set that hard drive up so that it is accessible from any computer on your network.

Sorry, Mac folks, I’m only covering sharing for XP and Win7.

Windows XP

  1. Open "My Computer" and right-click on the drive you want to share.
  2. Select "Sharing and Security…" and click.
  3. Note: If you share the entire drive, Windows will show a warning. It’s ok to share an entire drive, but some people prefer to only share specific folder(s).
  4. Select the “Sharing” tab and click the "If you understand…" statement.
  5. You might need to click a second "I understand…" statement (depending on your configuration).
  6. When you see the "Enable File Sharing" box, click "Just enable file sharing" and hit OK.
  7. You can then assign a share name for the folder.
  8. Other computers on your network can now search for the shared drive using the assigned name and the "Mapped Network Drive" dialog inside "My Computer" under "Tools.".

Windows 7

  1. Most of the above will work for Windows 7 as well. However, there are a few initial steps that must be completed if you are tempted to share files with older systems (ie, Windows XP).
  2. Make sure both computers are on the same Workgroup. This is found under the "System Properties," "Computer Name" tab.
  3. Go to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Network and Sharing Center and click on "Change advanced sharing settings."
  4. Verify the following is turned on:
    a. Turn on network discovery.
    b. Turn on file and printer sharing.
    c. Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files.
    d. Select whether you want sharing to be password protected or not.:
  5. If you keep the password enabled, you will need to create an account and password for each person accessing the folder..

Ok, so now Allen (in Accounting) can access Charlie's (in Sales) invoice from last week. Engineering can now see Marketing’s current datasheets for the next generation of products. Oh, and Mom can also play all those nifty movies and mp3's that the kids have been stockpiling. Sharing a network drive isn’t just about storage. It’s about bringing people together!

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

Spotlight On...

South by Southwest interactive (SxSWi)

There is way too much on the SxSW website for anyone to navigate easily. Below we've culled a few links that we found interesting and hope you do too.

History of SxSWi

SxSWi main page

Candy's schedule for SxSWi

Top 10 Reasons For Your Boss To Send You To SXSW Interactive

FAQ for SxSWi

 
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.


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.