OffAssist

A Note from Candy

September,  2015
Volume 17, Issue #1

If you have procrastinated on filing your personal taxes, raise your hand. Come on, get ‘em up. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Truth is that I’m guilty as well. I’m usually so busy during “tax season” helping clients get their stuff together for their returns that I often leave mine until last. Then my CPA sends me a nice note in late August asking me for my business books and forms, then again in mid September for my personal stuff.

 

Every year I say I’m going to do mine right after I’ve taken care of everyone else, but it never seems to happen that way. By the time I’m done with everyone else’s stuff, the last thing I want to do is go digging around for more forms. I’m super organized so anything that has come in the mail is in it’s own little special folder… but so much is only available via download that I forget to go looking for it.

 

For some reason, the kids heading back to school and everything getting back to “normal” in my home office gives me the idea to break a habit I’ve had. This year, it’s figuring out how to NOT turn my taxes in so late. They are always going to be a little late, that’s just my reality and how I do things, but perhaps I can aim for with a month of the extension? Hmmmm. I’ll have to think about that.


We all have those little business habits that we need to reign back in. What’s yours?

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In this issue...

Article: Use Your Mistakes to Create a Better Speech

Bookkeeping Tip: Receipt Scanner

Tax Deadlines: September 30, 2015 through October 15, 2015

Spotlight: Pecan Street Festival

Tech Talk: Password Tech Tip

Humor: Ever Happen to You?

Article: Use Your Mistakes to Create a Better Speech

By 

What do you do when you make a big mistake? Do you tuck your tail between your legs and try to run away from it, and hope nobody notices?

What is the likelihood that you're going to go undetected?

A piece of advice from one of my mentors encouraged me to not only admit my mistakes as quickly as possible, but turn those into a memorable message.

Just a few days ago, I created a marketing video for an organization to which I'll be giving the keynote address at the end of September. They loved the idea of the marketing video.

And, true to the recommendation of my friend and mentor, Darren LaCroix, I visited this organization's website. I included all of the key ideas that I could in this brief, two minute video.

I sent an email with the link to the video to the organizer. I was positively expectant about what she was going to say after she watched the video.

Shortly after, I received a voice mail message from her. It started off exactly how I expected. She said, "Michael, loved the video." I thought, "Of course you did." She said, "I particularly like your story, because it supports the message you're going to be conveying to the group." I thought, "Naturally."

The message continued. "There is one problem though."

"What?"

"You put the wrong web address for people to register for the event."

My first thought? "I did not!"

I rewound the message, Played it again. Despite my irrational hope that the message would be different, it wasn't.

I thought, "How could you be so dumb to not verify the website?"

I picked up the phone, dialed Meghan's number and said, "Meghan, I am so sorry that I put the wrong web address on that video."

She said, "I really hate to ask you, but can you do something about that?"

I said, "Here's what I can do. I can completely re-shoot the video, or, let me see if I can fix it."

She said, "Look, I don't want you to put a lot of extra time into it. I appreciate what you've done so far. If there's a way we can get that corrected, I'd appreciate it."

After we hung up, I thought about a question that Darren had planted in my head years ago. He said, "When you have a problem, ask: 'What can I do with this?'"

After some creative thinking, I returned to my video editing program and added new verbiage at the point where I had made the mistake about the website address.

After the re-editing was completed, and the video re-loaded to YouTube, Meghan was sent the new link.

Within 20 minutes I got a text message. "Loved the video! It's hilarious! Our members will love it!"

Thanks to the advice of a very smart mentor, I was able to take a mistake and turn it into a memorable moment.

My end-result video is better because it gives more insight into my personality, my sense of humor, and a sense of fun that I have when I give a presentation. I think it'll set a more positive expectation for the audience when I step on that stage next month.

The next time you make a mistake, what will you do?

Flip out, get upset, scrap the project and start over?"

Or, ask the question, "What can I do with this? How can I make this even better? How can I turn it into a meaningful and memorable moment?

Try this the next time you make a mistake.

You'll love the results. Until next time, always remember, you have a unique story. Tell it. Even if it's full of mistakes, others need to hear it.

When you give presentations, do you get frustrated by lack of response from your audience, are you stressed out by the process of creating your talk, or do you feel your presentation skills are harming your career?


'THE Book on Storytelling' provides tools and processes from the best speakers, storytellers and presenters. Learn how to develop and deliver stories that immediately grab audience attention, keep them on the edge of their seats, and inspire them to act on your message. According to Ed Tate, World Champion of Public Speaking, 'This book is outstanding! It will be my new #1 Storytelling resource.'

For more details, and to order the soft-cover version, visit: http://speakingcpr.com/the-book-on-storytelling-tips/. For the Kindle version, visit: http://amzn.to/1JqHfej.

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

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9163597

Bookkeeping Tip: Receipt Scanner

We all know the importance of scanning and keeping receipts for tracking expenses and having back-up but, let’s be honest, it’s a hassle.  We’ve found a solution and it’s simple.  Scanbot can be set-up to auto-upload to your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and a load of other cloud storage services.  The best part is that it’s simple.  Open the app and put your receipt in the camera window – the app will crop and take a picture on it’s own (if it can’t detect the receipt you can click the picture), then hit save.  You can preview the receipt to make sure it’s good then hit the cloud button and it’s uploaded.  Simple – two steps to get your receipts saved.  You do have the option of changing the name but, we’re keeping it simple right now, so two steps to get that receipt filed.

 

There’s a free version and a pro version.  The free version will get all those receipts (and other scans) filed quickly and easily.  The pro version has some added features like text recognition, naming templates, edit and signing capabilities so check those out if you think you’ll use them.  The pro version is $5 for a one-time fee, $0.99 for a monthly subscription or free with ads.

 

Scanbot is available on Android and IOS https://scanbot.io/en/index.html.  Honestly, I have used a lot of scanning apps and this is the easiest and most convenient one I’ve used.  Want to make it really simple for you?  If you’re an OffAssist client ask Candy about sharing your Dropbox folder with us and we’ll file those receipts for you.

 

Tax Deadlines

9/30/2015 Last day to establish SIMPLE plans for current year

9/30/2015 Time for businesses to consider setting up retirement plans

10/15/2015 Personal Returns due - Nonresident, US income, etc. FINAL DEADLINE

10/15/2015 Personal Returns due - Easy - Final Deadline

10/15/2015 Personal Returns due - Not Itemizing - Final Deadline

10/15/2015 Deadline for Schedule C filer to fund SEP-IRAs for previous year.

10/15/2015 Net Operating Loss - Eligible Small Business carry back loss

10/15/2015 US Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return - Final Deadline

10/15/2015 Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

10/15/2015 Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500, if on extension

10/15/2015 Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500-EZ, , if on extension

10/15/2015 3rd Quarter Payroll Taxes Due

10/15/2015 Employer's Deposit Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) - if total due is more than $500 through Sept 30th.

10/15/2015 3rd Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher - Form 720

 

 Spotlight: Pecan Street Festival

 

 

The Pecan Street Festival is a free two-day arts festival held twice yearly in downtown Austin’s Sixth Street Historic District. Taking place the first weekend in May and the last weekend in September, the juried festival attracts hundreds of local and national artisans offering original handcrafted creations in a variety of mediums, from metal, wood, fiber, clay, leather, glass and stone to repurposed materials of all kinds.

Like Austin itself, Pecan Street Festival attendees are diverse. Some come to buy art, others come for the food or the music, but they all come to take part in a tradition that is 100 percent Austin and has been known for more than three decades as a great way to spend a weekend. The festival has been managed by Special Events Livesince 2006.

– More than 50 of Austin’s top musical acts, from up-and-comers to renowned veterans, perform on three stages, located on Trinity, Neches and Red River streets.

– Thirty food vendors located throughout the festival offer both indulgent and healthy options from crepes, funnel cakes and regional cuisine, to smoothies and fresh squeezed lemonade.

– Kid-friendly activities include rides, a petting zoo, face-painting, interactive workshops, street magicians and more.

The Pecan Street Festival takes place in the Sixth Street Historic District between Brazos Street and Interstate 35 in the heart of Austin’s business and live entertainment district — the very stretch that contributed the city’s designation as the Live Music Capital of the World. Lined with many of Austin’s oldest and most storied structures, some of which date from the 1800s, Sixth Street is populated with entertainment venues, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and retailers. The area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: http://pecanstreetfestival.org/

Tech Talk: Password Tech Tip

Tom BeauchampBy Tom Beauchamp

Boy am I tired of websites telling me my password is not “strong” enough. Or how about when they require you to create a password that is so complex that the only way to remember it is to write it down. When every browser has to have a built in “Remember Password” function, just how secure is even the more complex password?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a password that is so strong that it would take a dedicated hacker over 300 years to crack, yet is easy for you to remember? Amazingly enough, this is so easy to do that I wish I could take all the credit for it!

Ok, so a little background: Hackers will mostly try to hack your computer in two ways: 1.) trying dictionary words and 2.) random character generation.

Let’s use and example: Fred decided to use his favorite fruits as his password. He really loves grapes, apples, and bananas. In the case of grapes and apples (both 6 characters long) a hacker would have access to his account in about 30 seconds. Bananas is a little better, taking a grand total of 13 minutes for the hacker to gain access. This is assuming the hacker went the random character route, if he’d used a dictionary scanner, access would have been almost instant.

Example 2: Fred decided to get more complex after reading stories of hackers on the web. His bank had specific requirements, so he decided to use those for the rest of his passwords. His new password: 7OnmBwe1. 8 characters, a mix of capitals, lower-case, and numerals. To put it lightly, there are 218 trillion combinations possible, seems pretty “strong”, right? Well, 1 hacker with 1 computer would take 253 days to break that. I would say that is pretty good, but we can do better and STILL be able to remember it!

The key here is combinations. If you use random length words and string them together, you can create a password that will take over 300 years to crack and yet you will be able to remember it! The key is to create a nonsense phrase that will still create a picture in your mind. Once you have that picture you are set.

Check out some of these:

·        iceredbanana (302 years)

·        spellmintysix (over 300 years)

·        keyboardfleesfire (over a trillion years)

·        radiowarpathatjumper (63.1 trillion years)

Of course, this won’t help you for websites that require a specific formula for a strong password. For those, you’ll have to continue using your preferred method for keeping those passwords handy but safe. But for those other sites, the ones that give you the freedom to choose, you now have a handy method for not only creating a secure password, but also remembering it!

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

Humor: Ever Happen to You?

 

 

 

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 the coding talents of Next Level Digital Solutions.

 

This newsletter is published monthly by Candy Beauchamp of OffAssist. © 2015

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.