October 2011  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 8 Issue 9  www.offassist.com

I Love October

Wow - October already?! It was over 100 degrees outside the last week of September here in Austin. That might explain my confusion as we jump from high (temperature!) Summer to Halloween decorations springing up in the neighborhood.

I have a confession. October is my favorite month of the year! Why? Well, because at heart I'm still about 9 years old and I adore Halloween! Thankfully Tom and the kids do too, since I tend to go all out on the decorations.

Oh, and because 11 years ago (omigosh where has the time gone?!) this October I became a mom when Jamie was born!

This year, October also offers a ton of exciting professional development opportunities for me and my team.

I sent an email earlier this week, but wanted to remind everyone that OffAssist will be closed or operating with a skeleton (heh -- that wasn't meant to be a Halloween reference, it just worked out that way. I Love October!) staff on the following dates:

  • October 11-16: Lanel and I will be attending a conference from October 11 through October 16. We'll have very limited access to email/phone/etc. While we are gone, please contact elaine@offassist.com if you have any major accounting issues. If it can wait, it's best to email us and we will get back to you.
  • October 20-21: Most of the OffAssist team will be attending a virtual conference. We'll be checking email and voice mail regularly and are available if something urgent comes up, but please know things might be a little delayed.
  • November 3-5: I'll be in Houston for yet another conference and a client meeting. For accounting issues, please contact lanel@offassist.com (she'll also be monitoring my email). I will be mostly out of pocket for those two days.

What about you? What are you doing for your your business this Fall?

In this issue...

Does Your Company Tag Line Pass These Five Crucial Tests?
Copyright © 2009-2011 Marcia Yudkin

Judging from the many disastrous slogans that state tourism boards have happily paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for, even marketing professionals often use totally subjective criteria to select tag lines. Do we like it? Is it catchy and memorable? Does it make us feel good?

I suggest replacing the "feel-good" test with five much more grounded criteria. When you're trying to decide on the best tag line to accompany your organization's name on the web site, brochures, business cards, stationery, ads, mugs and mouse pads, make sure your winner passes these five tests.

1. Does it apply to you and not to competitors? Few people would match "Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations." to any other state than Idaho. But there's nothing in "Worth a Visit, Worth a Lifetime" to indicate Maine any more than Minnesota, Michigan or Montana. If your tag line does not highlight something distinctive about your company, it's not making much of a difference to prospective customers, either.

2. Does it have nothing but positive connotations? I'm baffled about how "Seize the Day Off" is supposed to reflect well on Maryland. Are all the jobs in that state so horrible that everyone there lives for the weekend? Likewise, "Things Look Different Here" could equally be taken as a bad thing as a good thing about Oregon, which used that slogan for many years.

3. Does it have emotional oomph? "Greatest Snow on Earth" is certainly an energetic advertisement for Utah. Similarly, Kentucky's "Unbridled Spirit," which refers to its horse-related traditions, has emotional strength. Your tag line should convey energy rather than being flat and factual.

4. Are the tone and content appropriate for the target market? The District of Columbia has had "Taxation Without Representation" on its license plates, which functions well as an activist slogan for its own residents. But for tourists, that slogan would come across as bombastic and irrelevant. Always keep your target market firmly in mind when generating and screening tag lines. You are not writing it for yourselves but for those you want to attract.

5. Do you have good reasons for wanting to replace the previous tag line? Don't toss it in the trash just because you are tired of it. Remember that because you undoubtedly hear and see your own tag line much more than your target market does, you may get tired of it years sooner than they will. It's very rare for a state to keep a successful slogan alive for more than a decade because politicians and tourism officials get more and more itchy to put their mark on their entity's branding. That's a very bad reason to change. If the audience has stopped responding to it, or it has begun to be ridiculed - those are good reasons to look for a new tag line.

When you weigh your favorite tag lines with these five tests, you reduce the chances of choosing one that exposes your organization to ridicule. You boost the chances of coming out a winner.

About The Author: Marcia Yudkin is Head Stork of Named At Last, a company that brainstorms creative business names, product names and tag lines for clients. For a systematic process of coming up with an appealing and effective name or tag line, download a free copy of "19 Steps to the Perfect Company Name, Product Name or Tag Line" at http://www.namedatlast.com/19steps.htm

QuickBooks Tip

Payments not showing in check register

Q: When I receive a payment, why is it not showing in my check register?

A: If you receive a payment through the “receive payment screen” they usually go to an “Undeposited Funds” account.  You will then need to prepare the deposit.  To do this, go to “Record Deposits”, a list of your undeposited checks will show up, select the checks included in this deposit and choose OK.  Make sure you have the correct account you are depositing to and the date you made the deposit.  The checks should be listed.  Choose “Save & Close” (or “Save & New” if you have more deposits to make) and the deposit will show up in your check register.

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


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Tax Deadlines

October 17
- Personal Returns due - Nonresident, US income, etc. - FINAL DEADLINE
- Personal Returns due - Easy - Final Deadline
- Personal Returns due - Not Itemizing - Final Deadline
- Deadline for Schedule C filer to fund SEP-IRAs for previous year
- Net Operating Loss - Eligible Small Business carry back loss
- US Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return - Final Deadline
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month
- Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500
- Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500-EZ

October 31
- 3rd Quarter Payroll Taxes Due
- Employer's Deposit Federal Unemployment (FUTA)
- 3rd Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher - Form 720

Tech Talk With Tom...

3 Monitor Blues

Recently, one of my colleagues decided to go from a 2-screen setup to three screens. It sounded like a great idea to me! Hooking up two monitors has been a breeze: plug in one cable to the onboard video card, plug in the other cable to the add-on video card and “Presto!” it worked no problem.

Since most third-party video cards now have two ports, surely three monitors was just one more “plug and play” away, right? Ummmm… not so fast.

We had several technical difficulties getting the third monitor to work. At first, only two monitors would work, but not consistently. One power up we’d get two monitors, the next two different monitors, then another time, only one monitor. Frankly it was driving us a bit crazy. (Did I mention I was troubleshooting from a thousand miles away?)

We finally discovered one of the cables was bad. After replacing the cable, at least our results were consistent: Monitor 1 and Monitor 2 would work….OR…Monitor 1 and Monitor 3. Monitors 2 and 3 were apparently not on speaking terms.

Well, it turns out if you want three monitors, you can’t rely on your onboard video to support it. About half of computers shipped today have an Intel video chip as the onboard default. It turns out, Intel only supports a max of two monitors with their drivers. It doesn’t matter what your other two monitors are plugged into, only one of them will work with the Intel monitor plugged in.

So, just in case any of you are thinking of going to three screens, you basically have three options:

  1. Make sure you have Nvidia or Radeon onboard graphics.
  2. Purchase an extra add-on video card.
  3. Use some type of USB or “Multi-head” video adapter.

I am happy to say that my colleague got her third screen working using option 3. While it was frustrating, it was a learning experience for both of us. And, as I always say: If I am not going to learn anything today, why bother getting out of bed?

Hopefully our little adventure (read “learning experience”) will help you make your third screen addition quick and trouble free.

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

Spotlight On...

Spotlight: Janet Goldstein Enterprises

Janet Goldstein helps people make their dreams come true.  Really.

How many people have you heard say they want to write a book someday?  What they really mean is that they want to write the book, get it published, and sell lots of copies. Janet Goldstein, through her boutique publishing and strategy firm, Janet Goldstein Enterprises, helps people with a story to tell or a message to spread determine the best way to make that dream a reality.

Janet is a wealth of information.  One of the most enjoyable things about interviewing her for this column was her advice for entrepreneurs in general. There was a lot of good stuff, but it boils down to a few essentials:

  • You need to go public with your work and share what you're doing -- online and in real life.
  • You can get clients before you have business, or a website, or a name. Get started, grow, refine.
  • Serendipity can lead to success, but it requires work, too.
  • Be passionate about working with people you can learn from, people who have ideas that excite you.

Janet is the chief executive of the firm that bears her name, but has recently adopted a title that a client bestowed on her: Idea Doctor.

Want to learn more about Janet and how Janet Goldstein Enterprises can help you with, "taking ideas to the next level?" Check out their website at janetgoldstein.com. Feeling social? You can also find Janet on Twitter at @janetgoldstein.

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.

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.