OffAssist

 

May 2013
Volume 10, Issue #5

Summer Slow Down

How did it get to be May already?! My kids--and the teacher husband--get out of school at the end of this month. Already! Good thing summer is a little slower around here, so I can handle it when the kids come in here and tell me they are bored, or want a snack, or any of a myriad of other things that need my attention ~right now~.

Jamie and Cassie are getting older and, to a large extent, self-entertaining during the times when I absolutely have to work (payroll!). I do try to plan a few outings and special activities since we’re all home for a few months. If your office is also your home, how do you prepare for summer? Do you have any tips or tools that help you get through the months of increased temperatures and distractions? Email them to me and we’ll post them here or on the blog with a link to your site.

I also have exciting news to share!

The VA League Retreat was so successful this year that we’ve already started accepting registration for 2014! As a bonus for planning ahead, people who sign up now can take advantage of our six-month payment plan to spread the cost out. I’m excited that we’re able to offer this. The 2013 retreat was an amazing bonding experience - not to mention the sheer amount of work that we all got done. I can’t wait til next year!

Candy

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In this issue...

Article: How to Set (And Stick To) Your Business Boundaries

Bookkeeping Tip: QuickBooks Built-In Calculator Function

Tax Deadlines May 2013 / June 2013

Spotlight on VA Virtuosos Seminars

Tech Talk: Google Reverse Image Search

Humor

How to Set (And Stick To) Your Business Boundaries

By Tracy Lawton

It happens to all of us at some point or other... a client will ask us to do something different for them that is outside of our normal business practice. And, in the interest of keeping our clients happy, we will accommodate. The thing is, when you do make exceptions for one client, you're not being fair to all of your other clients. So it's really important that you have in place clear policies and processes, and that you have effectively communicated those policies to your clients. That way everyone is treated the same, and everyone knows where they stand.

The way this shows up in your business is that it can be anything from asking for a discount on a program, to running a program at a different time of day, to calling you on the weekend... or a dozen different ways that would take too long to mention here. But you get the idea!

And how you handle these situations makes all the difference in the smooth running of your business. Pushing of boundaries shows up in one of two areas:

1. Time

2. Money

Having come across just about every type of issue over the past 11 years, I have quickly created policies and processes that I adhere to when running my business. So let me share some of those issues with you, and provide you with a few solutions.

Pushing Time Boundaries: Just recently I was speaking with a client who scheduled our call because she said she had time management issues. She couldn't seem to manage her day effectively in order to get things done. Her work day was very haphazard, projects were slipping through the cracks, and she felt she was working in constant reactive mode. Sound familiar?

When we dug a little deeper and I asked her specifically what was going on, it turned out she didn't have time management issues at all; she simply didn't have any clear policies/guidelines in place for communicating with clients and getting projects completed. She had a time boundaries issue.

So, what was happening was that clients were calling and/or emailing her at all times of the day (including evenings), which meant she kept getting constant interruptions in her work flow. She, in turn, responded instantly to the client, so the expectation from the client was that she was available whenever they needed her. Just a few simple changes to setting boundaries around her business day made all the difference.

i. Provide clear guidelines to your clients on how you want to schedule and handle client calls. What's your procedure for scheduling calls? How much notice do you require? How often can clients schedule calls?

ii. Specify exactly how project requests are to be made to you, and anticipated turnaround time.

Pushing Money Boundaries: This presents itself in all kinds of way, from potential clients trying to get a discount on your fees, to asking for an extension to a special pricing plan you have in place, to having a credit card payment declined... and anything in-between. Again, you need to be really clear on what your policies are, and stick to them.

i. Create a Sales Policy page that you put up on your website. And for every product/program you sell via your website, add a link to your Sales Page Policy. Your Sales Policy is simply a statement which lets your clients and customers know what they can expect from you and how you handle your sales processes. How your sales policy is structured is entirely up to you; it's your business and you're the business owner, but once you've decided what those policies are you need to be strong in your implementation. Having a central page that clearly lays out your sales policies will make the implementation of them far easier (for you) and smoother, and will ensure that you're being fair to ALL of your clients.

ii. A very graceful and professional way of handling requests for discounted fees, is to have a lower-priced service/package that you can offer instead. Or, another option is take away a component of the package so that it better fits your client's budget.

Deciding in advance what your specific boundaries are, and having clear guidelines and processes for handling requests will make your business run much more smoothly. And clients LOVE boundaries too!

About The Author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don't constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Find out if you have the right systems in place for your business with the free quiz, "Is Your Business Set Up To Fail?" at http://bizsuccessquiz.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tracey_Lawton

Bookkeeping Tip: QuickBooks Built-In Calculator Function

One shortcut built into QuickBooks is one that many users don't know about but discover by accident. The amount field in any form has a built-in calculator function. So by using "+". "-". "*" and "/", you can enter an amount that may be a combination of transactions. This is very helpful when you're splitting transactions but don't know the total. You can combine your "split" amounts in the amount field and your individual amounts below in the transaction fields. To complete your calculation in the amount field, hit "enter/return" or "tab" in the desktop version of QuickBooks and "tab" in QuickBooks Online.

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

05/15/2013
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

06/17/2013
- Individuals, Farmers & Fishermen Pay 2nd Quarter Estimated Tax Payment
- Corporations - 2nd Quarter Estimate Tax payment Due
- Estates & Trusts 2nd Estimated Tax Payment
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month
- US Taxpayers Overseas Individual Personal Returns due
- US Taxpayers Overseas Claim Foreign Earned Income
- US Individuals Overseas Personal Return Extensions due

06/30/2013
- File Form TDF 90-22.1 - Report of Foreign Banks with $10,000 anytime during year

Spotlight: VA Virtuosos Seminars

Spotlight: VA Virtuosos Seminars

Since Candy is the closing speaker for the Spring session this year, we thought it was high time we featured Tawnya Sutherland’s awesome Virtual Assistant Virtuosos Seminars (VAVS). This Spring marks the seventh time Tawnya has offered her twice a year event. The VAVS offers live online webinars for a full week each Spring and Fall and covers a wide range of topics of interest to new and veteran virtual assistants.

Know the best part? It’s less than half the cost of similar events at only $27 for access to all twenty live webinars, live speaker Q&As, and bonus downloadable resources from the speakers. If you want to access the seminars anytime, or download some previous sessions, there are affordable upgrade options that allow for that possibility, too.

Candy will be speaking at 5pm CDT on Friday, May 10th on Thriving Through Transformation. You can find out more about her presentation on the VAVS page.


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: Google Reverse Image Search

Tom BeauchampBy Tom Beauchamp

So, say you have an image you grabbed off the Internet and you want to find a larger size, but you can’t quite remember where you got the image in the first place? What do you do? Where do you go?

There’s gotta be an easy way, right?

Yep, there is, and you can find it at Google. It’s called Reverse Image Search. Just head over to Google.com and click the Images button in the upper left-hand corner. The page should reload and you should see a little camera icon in the search box.

Now, you have options here – you can either browse to where your image is on your computer, paste the URL of an image from another site (right-click on the image and select Copy image URL) or even drag and drop and image from your desktop into the search bar.

Whichever method you choose, after you hit the Search button Google will scour the internet for like-looking images to the one you uploaded. You can also click on the link at the bottom and watch a short video that offers more explanation.

Resource: WorldStart

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

Humor

A poem, in honor of Candy’s webinar on the 10th

Every speaker has a mouth;
An arrangement rather neat.
Sometimes it's filled with wisdom.
Sometimes it's filled with feet.

~ Robert Orben

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.

Ink Think       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.