May 2010  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 7 Issue 5  www.offassist.com

Using Twitter at Conferences?

Wow, I'm fresh back from the annual IVAA Summit, held in Phoeniz, AZ this year. I blogged about it, but wanted to mention again the thing that struck me most. I'm amazed by what the creation of Twitter has done to change these events--and I've been to my fair share of conferences...

I notice Twitter being utilized more and more each time I attend an event, no matter how big or small. This was a small conference and most of us already knew each other. Not only did we tweet about what the speaker was talking about, we also used Twitter to make plans and solve problems.

"Hey, a group of us are going for pizza; anyone want to join?"

"Anyone got any Advil in room 2?"

Some of the people I talked to found it a distraction. For me, it was an enhancement of my overall experience. No matter what you think, you have to admit it changes everything in that setting.

Imagine what this means for event professionals, too. No more waiting months for attendee surveys and hoping people return them. Twitter is a source of live, streaming, ongoing commentary about the event and its all logged online.

Next year the IVAA Summit will be held in Portland, OR. I'm interested to see what changes take place in a mere 12 months time!

In this issue...


US citizens overseas 2007 tax returns due (or file 4868)

If you hired someone after February 3, 2010 or plan to hire someone before January 1, 2011, you may be eligible for the HIRE Act tax credit if they had not worked more than 40 hours over the previous 60 days. To learn more about this, please visit my blog post about the issue.

Our payroll system will be ready to deal with backing in data for HIRE Act that was passed in March. If you have hired someone recently (Between Feb 3, 2010 and January 1, 2011) that has not worked for more than 40 hours the previous 60 days, you may qualify for a tax break. Basically, you do not have to pay the 6.2% social security tax for the first 52 weeks they are employed by you and you could be eligible for a $1000 tax break on your federal tax return.

For more information about the HIRE Act, please follow the links below:

     IRS site
     Intuit Site

If you have an employee that qualifies for this, please have them complete a W-11 and send a copy to me. When the system is ready to start handling these types of situations, you will receive full credit for all monies you may have overpaid. A copy of the W-11 form can be obtained at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw11.pdf.

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Managing People You Can't See

Whether you are a running a multi-VA practice, using virtual subcontractors, or have decided to hire remote employees, you are now faced with the task of supervising someone you can't see.

Even experienced managers and business owners can be confused when it comes to figuring out how to manage people who aren't in the same office. The people at Anchor Advisors and Life Meets Work get this. To help you have a better, more profitable relationship with your virtual co-workers, whether subcontractors or employees, they've created a 3-part webinar series called, "Managing People You Can't See."

We at OffAssist are excited to be able to offer our readers who want to attend this webinar $50 off when you register and use the Code IN50OFF.

For more details about this program, visit their information and registration page at http://peopleyoucantsee.eventbrite.com/.

QuickBooks Tip

Setting up two different chart of accounts

Q: Is there a way to set up two different charts of accounts, one for business and one for personal? My company has everything in one COA and it makes the list so long. I would really like to separate the accounts.

A: You really should have different files for different companies. You cannot set up a separate chart of accounts in the same QuickBooks file.

I would set your preferences to force a "class" and use business and personal "classes", but then the balance sheet will be off. Talk to your tax preparer - the problem you are going to run into is if you need internal financials for a bank or something.

To make it easier for everyone, open a separate QB file for personal use and make sure the funds are not comingled.

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

Humor

An accountant read the story of Cinderella to his four-year-old daughter for the first time. She was fascinated by the story, especially the part where the pumpkin turns into a golden coach.

When he finished reading, his daughter piped up, “Daddy, when the pumpkin turned into a golden coach, would that be classed as income or a long-term capital gain?”

 
Tax Deadlines

May 15

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for April issued payroll
- Texas Franchise Tax Return
- Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (if tax year end is 12/31)

May 20

- State Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers

June 15

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for May issued payroll
- 2nd quarter 2008 estimated tax payments due
- US citizens overseas 2007 tax returns due (or file 4868)

June 20

US citizens overseas 2007 tax returns due (or file 4868)

Tech Talk With Tom...

Monitor Specifications

So now that I’ve answered everyone’s questions on setting up dual monitors, it's time for the next step. Since dual means two, most of you are going to have to buy a new monitor. But how do you know which one is best?

I recently went to my local electronics superstore and asked the salesman which monitor I should buy. He, of course, wanted me to buy the monitor with the biggest numbers printed on the box. I pushed for more information and found that he really didn’t know what the numbers meant, just that bigger was better.

I looked it up, and want to share what I learned; a one-stop-shop for what the numbers printed on the side of a monitor box really mean:

Monitor size: Not to be confused with resolution. Monitor size is the physical corner to corner measurement of your monitor’s size. (A popular size right now is 21.5” or 22”.)

Response rate: Here you want a small number. This is the time (in milliseconds) it takes for a pixel to go from fully black to fully white. (4 ms and 8 ms response times are pretty normal. 2 ms is really fast.)

Resolution: This is how many pixels are on the screen. The more the better (larger monitors will usually allow larger resolutions).

Viewing angle: The angle that the screen can be viewed from before the contrast drops below a certain (low) value. This used to be much more important but today’s monitors support very wide viewing angles.

Contrast ratio: Basically put...“How black is the black your monitor will show?” Higher is better. (There is no reason to buy a monitor with a contrast ratio less than 1000:1.)

Brightness: How bright your monitor can be. Once again this is a pretty useless specification these days. A lot of monitors are reported as too bright at their highest setting and need to be turned down.

As you can see, higher numbers are not always better. Prior to buying a monitor, I always look at reviews of products in the same price range. There are some new vendors in the monitor market (Hyundai and LG being two good names that spring to mind) that are producing great products for a much lower price than their established competition (Samsung, Viewsonic, etc).

Check the numbers, check the competition, and check the price through Froogle or some other comparison shopping service/site/app. You'll see more with dual monitors, and save more by doing your homework.

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

Spotlight On...

Duck Duck Blue

Justin Ryan wasn't planning on starting DuckDuckBlue, a business catering to the hosting, Wordpress, and graphic needs of VAs and other virtual professionals; his clients made him do it.

In his own words, "I started up because of Crystal (Crystal Edwards, of Lone Star VA) and Candy."

"I did some work, as a friend, for Crystal. She was having a really hard time finding someone to do her logo. Even the pro design companies were sending back stuff that was truly awful, so I sat down and put something together for her. I intended it to be a pushing off point that she could take to someone else, but she really liked it, we made a few changes, and that's what she ended up keeping. Then she literally forced me to bill her for it - I wasn't doing any graphic or Wordpress work then and never intended it to be a business. I just did it to help a friend in need."

"Later, Candy needed help with the header for 2 Minutes With A VA. I saw her tweet about it, offered to help, and put together what she wanted. 2 Minutes is built on Wordpress, and when she needed some help with a few things later, I took care of it for her. At one point, Candy said, 'I should just give you the password pay you to fix my WP stuff,' and that's exactly what she did."

"That was when I realized there was a market for someone to do Wordpress and general web work for VAs, and I went from there."

This story is one of our favorites because Candy loves helping people find a way to work from home and, besides, we love Justin. He is one the many people behind the scenes who make sure OffAssist looks good, whether online or in print (he designed Candy's new business cards, too!).

For more information on DuckDuckBlue's service offerings, check out the website at www.duckduckblue.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 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.