October 2007  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 4 Issue 10   www.offassist.com
Boo!

Around here, October means one, well, okay, two things. My firstborn is an October baby, and this year my big first grader is going to be seven! Where do the years go? Oh, and an indulgent shout out goes to Jamie: Happy Birthday!

The other thing? Halloween. We are huge Halloween fans around here. Yes, we are those neighbors, the ones that decorate the entire yard with pumpkins, ghouls, and fake blood dripping from the windows.

Think about it though, how often do you get to just let go and be silly? Chase your kids around the neighborhood, hand out candy, or scare a kid or two with something they aren't expecting on your doorstep?

This month, do something crazy or silly - just because you can. After all, the rest of the holidays are just around the corner from Halloween. Now that is scary!

In this issue...
Monkey Management:
3 Simple Solutions to Reclaim Your Time, Focus, and Sanity

by Melanie Benson Strick

Do you ever feel like you are carrying the weight of a thousand people on your back? Somehow no matter how good you think you are at delegating it still feels like you have a thousand things to do. It's a feeling many entrepreneurs, managers and business owners have. William Oncken, author of Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey, calls it "the monkey on your back."

Here is how it happens.

With all good intentions, you have a conversation with your webmaster. You lay out all the steps necessary to get the website up. You identify when it needs to be done by. The next thing you know, the date comes and goes and the website project isn't done. What happened?

As you discuss with your webmaster why it wasn't done, she tells you she is waiting on the auto-responders for your website opt-in page. In your mind, you never heard that you were going to have to create these auto-responders. Now you have another urgent, unplanned task on your desk.

Bahm! A monkey just got planted on your back.

Then you have a meeting with your marketing consultant. You receive a list of issues that must be handled before he can move forward with your marketing plans. You truly thought that these were things he had committed to taking care of but now he says they are your responsibilities.

Wham! Another monkey landed on your back. No wonder you feel so weighted down.

If you find that tasks, projects and deliverables that you delegate to other people don't get accomplished and somehow end up back in your lap to complete, then you have a monkey management challenge.

A monkey is any idea, opportunity or task that when you try to delegate it lands on your back. Typically it happens when a project gets stalled because the other person doesn't have the authority or knowledge to solve the problem.

You probably have a Monkey Management problem if you find yourself trying to delegate but say things like:
  • Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it (or I'll handle it.)
  • If you have problems, just give me a call.
  • If you can't do it I'll figure out how to get it done.
  • You don't have time? OK, well I can knock it out pretty fast.
  • I'll find someone to do it for you.
Monkey Management is by far one of the great reasons entrepreneurs get overwhelmed! And with good reason too. Here you think that you've successfully delegated but somehow that monkey ends up on your back.How do you solve the Monkey Management challenge? As a recovering Monkey Manager, I've got three simple solutions for you.
  1. Make sure that the person you are delegating to understands how much authority and autonomy they have in completing the task. Do they need to check with you or can they use discretion to complete on their own?
  2. Determine a specific date to get a check in on the status of the project. If there is no "deadline" to communicate progress, other projects will somehow become more important.
  3. Never hand off a task without a complete and thorough plan of how the project or task will be accomplished. Be sure to check for knowledge, resources and time availability by the person assigned to the project.
Now imagine what your life and business will be like when you hand off a project to someone and can feel confident that the monkey won't land on your back again. Now you can really get on the fast-track!

Melanie Benson Strick, The Entrepreneurís Success Coach, teaches entrepreneurs how to stop feeling overwhelmed so they can create more money, more freedom and more prestige.

If youíre ready to stop working in your business and start working on your business, go to www.virtualteambuildingsecrets.com to learn the secret to growing your company to a six and seven-figure success without employees or a 90-hour work week!

Source: articlecity.com


QuickBooks Q&A
Q: I have been working on the same company information since we set up QuickBooks years ago. There are many accounts that we no longer have or use. How can I make them "turn off"?

A: QuickBooks will allow you to make an account "inactive" but retain the historical information - you cannot delete an account unless there is no historical information/transactions.

To do this, click on "Lists" and then select "Chart of Accounts". As you scroll through your accounts and find the "inactive" accounts, you can simply right click your mouse or click on the "account" box at the bottom left, then select the "make account inactive".

You will notice there is also a box with "include inactive" at the bottom as an option. If you put a checkmark in this box, you will then be able to view the accounts that are active and the inactive accounts will be denoted with a bold x.

Once you make an account inactive, QuickBooks will not allow you to use it for any new transactions.
 
 
Important Tax Deadlines
October 15 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040 final due date

October 15 - U.S. Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065 final due date

October 15 - U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, Form 1041 final due date

October 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for September issued payroll

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

October 31 - Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941 and TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)

November 15 - Texas Franchise Tax return final due date (if extension filed 5/15)

November 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for October issued payroll

November 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers
Spotlight On...
Natuba

Natuba is a web-based service that allows you to integrate content from several different personal sites all over the web into one single source page.

For example, say you have a Blogger blog, a Myspace page, and a Flickr account and friends who keep up with all of them. Wouldn't it be easier to have just ONE place to send them to for the latest on all your pages? Natuba does that.

If you have a page on a site with feed capability Natuba allows you to integrate the content from them all, with a brief note as to which source it came from and who posted if it is from a multi-contributor feed.

Candy, who got to beta test the service, was kind enough to share the link to her Natuba page, to give our readers an idea of Natuba's potential. Check it out at www.natuba.com/candyb. Find out more or sign up at natuba.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 in 2007.

Tech Talk With Tom...
The Great Debate: Mac or PC?

This month's column is in response to a recent reader letter.

Hi Tom,

My 17 year old son wants his own computer. He decided that he wants an Apple. He found a desktop at Fry's that is being discontinued for $750.00. It comes with no programs pre-loaded, which the salesman said hardly any computer has pre-loaded software any more. It looks like we would have to buy $150.00 worth of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.

Could you help me make a decision on what to get? He needs the above mentioned programs at a minimum. He also likes working with photos and editing them. That's one reason he wants the Apple, because he said that it has a good photo editing program.

BTW - I really enjoy reading your newsletter!!

- Nancy


Nancy,

A lot of people are having your problem these days. Mac or Windows? Much of what your son says USED to be true; Mac was the leader in photo editing several years ago. Many people who do photo editing still swear by their Mac. Fortunately for Windows users, the people that made Mac's photo software started making it for Windows as well.

Another big question: Are you SURE you want to get him a notebook? Does he need to be able to carry it everywhere he goes? Portables are VERY expensive when compared to similarly powerful desktop computers. They are also difficult to impossible to upgrade, as are a lot of Mac desktops. The upgrades you see for sale at the computer store are almost all for Windows-based computers.

Basically, with a Mac or a notebook computer, you have to make sure it has enough power to last him 3 or 4 years. If he is really into photo and video editing, most $700 notebooks are NOT going to cut it. A $700 desktop, however, can probably do exactly what he needs right now and in a year or 2 he can pop in some more memory or a new processor and keep on going for another year or more.

NOTE: Windows software does NOT work on a Mac, and vice versa. There are some open source alternatives that support both, however.

OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org): Supports both Mac and Windows. It is a good full-service office suite comparable to MS Office.

The Gimp (www.gimp.com): An amazing photo editing suite, very comparable to Photoshop's most expensive version.

Blender (www.blender.org): Very flexible 3D art tool, comparable to 3D Studio Max.
  • Are you willing and ready to make the transfer to these alternative programs if you need to share data?
  • Is the computer powerful enough to last?
  • Is your son able to develop the skillset required to run a new operating system in the house?
If so, then there is no reason not to switch to Mac. However, there is really no large reason TO switch, either. It all comes down to personal preference.

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

Insomnia

An auditor is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor.

"Doctor, I just can't get to sleep at night."

"Have you tried counting sheep?"

"That's the problem - I make a mistake and then spend hours trying to find it."
 

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.