September 2008  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 5 Issue 9   www.offassist.com
The Sound of Silence

Do you hear that sound? Me either.

Why? Because there is nothing to hear except the sound of complete quiet. Both of my kids are in school for the first time ever. Tom, PTA president and SuperDad, has taken on a part-time job at the kids' school - mostly so he can talk to other grown-ups without Skyping. He will still be handling our servers and technical support, but on a part-time basis. Yes, we IM each other in the house - separate offices and all. Now, suddenly, I'm spending a lot of time in near-complete stillness.

The good? A lot of things get done in a shorter amount of time since I'm no longer stopping to search for snacks or art supplies every hour or so. The bad? It is seriously quiet. I started OffAssist to be able to stay home with my kids, so they have always been around, making kid noises, while I was working. To say all this silence is a strange sensation in my office is a huge understatement! I've actually had to add background noise, it's that quiet!

Of course, I've always been a bit of a hermit, so while the change is taking some adjusting, it's still right up my alley. I think this knack for handling change is what has made OffAssist successful. We've always been able to adapt to changing circumstances and markets, and help our clients do the same.

In this issue...

The Holiday Season, A Ripe Time to Market
by Gabrielle Melisende

Ideally in marketing you want to use every opportunity to educate, promote and sell your business. The holiday season (mid-November to January 3) offers entrepreneurs and small business owners the opportunity to promote their business, stimulate sales and spread good cheer all at the same time.

Marketing to your current customer base ought to be a priority for every entrepreneur and small business owner during the holiday season as well as throughout the year. If not, you are overlooking one of your best markets for repeat sales and referrals.

Five Ways to Market to Existing Customers:
  1. Place a coupon or savings offer on your invoices during this period
  2. Use direct mail or email marketing to promote holiday specials
  3. Send a personal greeting or holiday card (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's)
  4. Give away promotional items with your company information on it
  5. Use any of the above methods as an opportunity to introduce new products or services with an introductory offer (valid during the holiday season or in January)
  6. Customers like to know they are valued. Sending a personalize message, savings coupon or a free gift to a customer communicates that you value their business and loyalty.
The holiday season also offers an optimum time to network, cold call and reach out to new prospects. Using the same concept as above, instead of saying thank you, it is an opportunity to introduce yourself, product and service. The strategies remain the same, the message changes. Holiday parties offer an added bonus marketing strategy during this period to network. Take advantage of them or consider hosting one yourself.

Lastly, if the holiday season, January, or both, traditionally present a slow down for your business, consider offering limited time specials to expire during these months. Also revisit the tips published in the December 2006 issue of Eye On Leander, titled Getting Through a Seasonal Slump. (Online title, 5 Ways to Master Any Seasonal Slump - Every Time).

Gabrielle Melisende, owner of Destination Graphix, is a publisher, editor, writer, award-winning graphic designer and marketing specialist. She works with entrepreneurs, small business owners, non-profit and government entities on projects ranging from identity design, web site design and maintenance to marketing campaigns. She was recently named a finalist for Marketing Campaign of the Year by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Article courtesy of EzineArticles.com


QuickBooks Tip
Able to Leap Multiple Categories in a Single Check
(note to self: stop listening to Superman theme while writing headlines!)

Q: I made a single payment to a vendor for multiple items that belong in different categories. How can I break this out so my reports will accurately reflect my business expenses?


A: Go to Enter Bills and complete the entry in the normal manner, until you get to the Account section. Apply the different amounts to the different expense categories using the Account section. QB will not let you save the entry until the total of all the individual entries matches the total you put in Amount Due.

If you've already entered checks in the past without breaking them out like this, don't worry, you don't have to cancel and re-enter everything! Just find the transaction in your register and double-click to open it. You can change the amount for the existing account and add the others to correct the entry from here.
Humor
Why younger generations need calculators and a financial advisor:

1. Teaching Math In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of timber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

2. Teaching Math In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of timber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1990
A logger sells a truckload of timber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 2000
A logger sells a truckload of timber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 2008
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)
 
 
Tax Deadlines
September 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for August issued payroll

September 15 - Final Deadline for Corporate Tax Returns

September 15 - 1040ES Estimated Taxes due for 3rd Quarter 2007

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
Tech Talk With Tom...
5 Neat Tricks for Windows XP

This month we are staying away from the "useful" and the going straight for the, "Yes! I knew it could be done!"

What do I mean? Well, sometimes you want to do something just because you've seen other people do it. Maybe you're just one of those people who knows there must be a way (to maximize, make custom non-Internet favorites,etc.), but you could never find the right commands to make it happen.

Get ready for 5 neat little tricks that might not make you more efficient, but will definitely add a little "cool factor" to your computer.

1.) Is Maximize not Maximum enough for you?
Hold the Ctrl Key - Double Click the Title Bar - PRESTO! The window is now the size of your screen

2.) Create your own "Favorites" toolbar in My Computer
Click Start > My Computer
Now right-click the toolbar > Click Links
You should now see the Links toolbar in the window.

To add an application or file, browse to the application and drag its icon to the Links toolbar and drop it there. Repeat for additional links

3.) Display 2 windows Side by Side
No it's not Candy's dual 22-inch monitors, but its still pretty cool.

Click on the first window you want to open (minimized in the Taskbar). Press and hold the Ctrl key and right-click the second window. Now Click "Tile Vertically," and you can work in both windows at the same time!

4.) 2 Ways to Easily Arrange Files
Open the folder you need to (re)arrange and right-click in any empty place in the window. Select "Arrange Icons By" then click "Show in Groups".

To arrange the icons, right-click in an empty place and select "Arrange Icons By" and your choices are Name, Size, Type, or Modified (meaning the date the file was last modified).

5.) Make Icons
C'mon, you know you always wanted to know how to do this!

Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > Paint
Once Paint is open go to Image > Attributes
Set the height and width to 32 pixels and put your artistic talent to work!

To save your new icon:
Go to File > Save as and choose the location you want to save your file to. Name the icon whatever you want, but make sure you end the name with ".ico" and click "Save."

My personal favorite is number 5. Being able to make your own icons for your favorite programs is just too cool not to try at least once. Probably the most useful is number 3. I love having the two windows side by side; it makes editing and data entry a lot easier. Try them all for yourself - just don't be surprised if everyone starts asking "How did you do that?"

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

Jean McGuire didn't plan to be a promotional marketing guru, it just sort of happened.

She opened her virtual assistance firm, McGuire Professional Services, in February 2005 and initially offered a wide-range of services. After a few months of work, Jean realized she wanted to focus on her strengths, desktop publishing and graphic design. Not long after, Jean learned that her designs were being used to punch-up her clients' promotional items and she thought, "I can do that!" With that thought, McGuire Pro Marketing was born.

Jean has come far in the three and a half years since she opened her doors. She recently received her Certified Advertising Specialist designation. There are over 45,000 promotional product distributors out there, and only a little over 1,000 of them have earned this designation. Jean did it in record time. McGuire Pro was also recently nominated for the Palm Award for Best Client Promotion (in Florida) by the PPAF (Promotional Products Association of Florida). The award was yet to be given out when we went to press, so we'll just wish her luck!

When asked why a customer should choose McGuire Pro over the competition, Jean said:

"What I offer my clients is my experience and knowledge, amazing personal customer service, and 100% guarantee on orders. Anyone can shop online for promotional products, but they won't get the expertise or personal service that I offer. I attend supplier shows throughout the year - this allows me to see the latest and greatest in the promotional products industry and offer my clients new ideas for their businesses. I love marketing and the creative nature of it - it's so much fun to start at nothing and create a unique marketing idea that no one else has thought of yet."

McGuire Pro has also recently added a subsidiary called ThinkGreenPro that concentrates on environmentally responsible, earth-friendly promotional products.

For more information about McGuire Pro or to find out how they can help you with your creative marketing, visit them on the web at www.mcguirepro.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 VA Lab Designs.