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Monthly Archives: January 2014

College student or CEO- we can all prepare for the best TAX RETURN possible…

Cut Your Tax by Being Organized and Educated

Cut Your Tax by Being Organized and Educated

I’ve always considered myself a pretty middle-class / average type of person. I’ve had the office job, the mortgage, the cars, and the kid. I was never super high on any one totem pole yet I did choose to be homeless after losing that corporate job. So, I know for sure that what I’m about to tell you is something you already know and is something that can help any ‘tax bracket”.

Quite simply, with so much technology at our finger tips these days, it’s so easy to be organized even if that is not your specialty. Being organized with your finances is half the battle in figuring out what you can and cannot claim on your taxes. So if you are just leaving money on the table, send it to me – if you want some of that money back, you have to be organized and it’s easy.

Here are some suggestions that may help make your organization and preparation a lot easier during the year.

  1. I absolutely love Quickbooks Online. Their secure servers and protection make me feel good about my experience and I can do everything I need for my personal and small business finances from anywhere, anytime. From here, I use other options…
  2. I have linked my bank accounts to my Quickbooks so all my transactions load when I update my QB. This makes life so much easier than ever before. Now, I merely have to categorize these transactions however, over time if you repeat the same vendor and category, QB will pre-fill this, getting even easier as you go.
  3. From QB or my bank account, I can setup automatic bill payments so nothing is ever late. Regardless which way I setup the payment, the are linked so the info will transfer to the other with little effort on my part.
  4. I have an app on my iPhone called BizXpenseTracker. Now for me, I don’t generally use the app for recording receipts that I acquired using my debit card because that will show on my bank statement which feeds to QB. I do use it a lot for cash receipts because I can snap an image of the receipt and trash the paper. I can also categorize those receipts. Further to this, and I like this best personally, I can record time I spend on each client in this app and download my report at the end of each week. It’s like a touch button time-clock. In my dream of 2013 and pending re-start in 2014, mileage is my life but I dare not try to calculate it and it is not “really” required for my work – but if I wanted to record mileage per client, I could do it in this app; just sayin’.
The Dreaded Tax Envelope

The Dreaded Tax Envelope

I realize that everybody isn’t going to suddenly switch their whole life around to this extreme, though I think it’s a smart process. I can’t tell you how many people (men) I have been around that have an old tattered and torn up envelope that they brutally shove every receipt into whenever they return from the gas pump, restaurant, or Home Depot.

There are some more simplified ways you can help yourself and I know this from growing in my own processes.

First of all, no matter what process you use and what you do with your smart phone I highly suggest that everybody subscribe to some type of cloud based storage for your contacts and photos plus all the other goodies on your phone.

That being said, I used to have photo albums in my old iPhone called: Biz Receipts, Medical Receipts, Bike Receipts, etc… you get the ‘picture’. In these albums I saved images of receipts for just those things that I thought would be beneficial come tax time or something I may need for warranty purposes (so clearly I didn’t save receipts for water and cigarettes at Citgo). Every so often I would download those images into folder in my DropBox and record them in a spreadsheet with categories.

This article is intended to put your mind around the organization and preparation that you will need to make tax time easier each year, because face it; we have to do it – how can we make it a little less painful?

Back in those days I didn’t think I had much to claim if I itemized, but after the past two years, I have learned many valuable lessons and have been able to claim things I didn’t know I could and I correct some mistakes I had made in the past. I can easily keep tabs on all my expenses during the year easily and so can you. Don’t forget, a lot of these types of tasks can be managed in partnership with a great virtual assistant. I know one; just sayin’…

The Write Hand

The Write Hand

 

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Virtual Assistants: Everyday Uses for Everyday Folks

Always the To-Do List

Always the To-Do List

Don’t we all have nagging little tasks that we’d love to get done, but just keep putting off? Some of these tasks are simple yet time consuming. Some perhaps are not your specialty and just aren’t appealing. In any case, a Virtual Assistant can often be a good source to help with a lot of tasks from simple to elaborate.

Now a Virtual Assistant typically has extensive background in administrative tasks. As such, he or she should be very organized, time disciplined, and savvy with a myriad of technology. The list of skills could truly go on forever because every assistant excels or enjoys certain tasks more than another or is educated higher in some areas than others. Virtual Assistants often rely on each other as a network to accomplish a client’s vision. Let me give you a very small sampling of how a Virtual Assistant can help men and women in their daily lives.

»Creating a searchable document with all those recipes you have collected over the years and have to scrounge through every time you need that special one.

»Entering your contacts for those business cards you collected at the last conference because goodness knows you can’t reach them if you don’t have the info handy.

»Keeping your family or business QuickBooks accounts in order and reconciled, plus reporting, payroll, and more.

»Researching travel plans for family or business travel.

»Help you sell all those car and bike parts in the garage you just haven’t gotten around to listing on eBay.

»Creating a website for your small business whether it’s a main source of income or a hobby with potential. Similarly – helping manage your social media for optimal success.

»Refresh Your Resume, build a new resume for a high school kid, or even a college student.

»Checking your email and actually UNSUBSCRIBING to ads you no longer want. Come on, we all do it – we delete it and say we’ll unsubscribe later and just never do.

»Research dern near any topics you have in mind perhaps you simply haven’t had the time. A simple list of some of the better search results on your topics can make your reading and research a little less painful.

»Setup reservations for dining, theater, travel, and more. Along with extensive help with scheduling.

»Clean-up and organize all those digital photos you have collected over the years. There are also great storage and backup platforms that they can suggest as well.

…the list could really go on!

VAs can help unjuggle your life

VAs can help unjuggle your life

Just think of it this way, “Is there somebody I can just give this to for a reasonable price and have it off my plate?” If you don’t physically have to see this person, a Virtual Assistant can and most likely will be your most trusted and most economical means of support for miscellaneous tasks throughout life.

The nice thing to keep in mind is that if you establish a relationship with a VA, you don’t have to use them every week for a guaranteed number of hours. Make sure you interview your VA and ask how they function and be sure it suits your needs. You will find after that one simple task is completed, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment even if you didn’t have to do a lot. From there you will be searching for tasks to give to your Virtual Assistant to help make life smoother and free up some of your time.

 

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Website vs Social Media vs Blog for My Small Business

Website vs Social Media vs Blog for My Small Business

With so much of our communication going viral these days, it is with increased vigor that small businesses are trying their hand at marketing online. There are many platforms with many benefits, and if used effectively together can actually be a painless and fluid process to boosting your business and online presence.

Website:

Connect to the World w A New Website

Connect to the World w A New Website

I like to start here because your business should have a website where you own the domain name. This is somewhere that all other things tie back to in the future. Your website is going to be your client’s one place to find everything they could ever need to know about your business. From here all your other media and communications will stem outward.

Blog:

Using a blog can work in many business scenarios. For most of my clients I write blogs that are mostly information sharing in the general field of their business. In most of these cases our goal is to keep the potential client engaged until they need us. A blog is also a great way to build your business portfolio of activities. You can show and write about the latest refurbish job you did on that 1902 Hoosier cabinet to highlight your restoration skills; etc.

Many small businesses have turned to free blog platforms to set up their “website” for their business. While these platforms can work and do work, I find that over time a client ends up paying more for adding on this, that, and the other thing; than if they had paid for an annual website designer specifically for their business purposes. Use caution!

LinkedIn:

We are going here next because as a small business owner you can get a lot of great news and information to help with your business plans on LinkedIn. You can seek like-mind professionals with whom to collaborate, groups that work like think-tanks, and so much more. LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your skills, your business, and connect with others on a socially professional level.

Facebook:

Social Media Galore

Social Media Galore

When used properly for business, Facebook can be a very useful marketing tool. Many businesses make the mistake of setting themselves up as a person or a fan page rather than a business. All varieties of pages on Facebook have a purpose and built in features that will help you get the best experience out of the platform. Being setup properly, finding and building followers, and keeping your audience engaged without being pushy are just a few of the keys to effectively use Facebook for marketing a business.

Most folks are familiar with ‘Mayhem’, the troublesome character in the insurance commercials that effectively reminds us of our human flaws. If you visit Mayhem’s Facebook page, you will see he has over 1M followers and people are engaged on the page, but nowhere do you see the insurance company advertising their products; but I bet you remember them…

Twitter:

I like to think of this as the social encyclopedia of everything and nothing. Quick snippet searches can often lead a client right to your front door, so Twitter is not without its benefits. There is some time involved in using it continuously, but for small business purposes we start by focusing on getting your name out there first.

So many places, So little time...

So many places, So little time…

So what does all that mean?

What I like to tell my clients is to make things as automated as possible and start at the beginning whenever possible. Here’s a very basic social media marketing plan that I implement more and more with my clients this past year…

·         Establish a Website

·         Establish a Blog (perhaps)

·         Establish all social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube…)

Use the website to hold all content. Use a blog to send a periodic detailed message to followers or share continuously useful information. Use social media to send out frequent posts to engage followers. Keep your name ever in their presence and when they need you, they will remember you. Give them something for nothing; information is free!

By starting at the beginning we are able to establish your website and use the verbiage therein to build the other media as we go along. Once the site is established we begin to distribute communications on a regular schedule to maintain automation and time savings, uniformity and professionalism, and constant online growth and presence.

We do have other options for growth, but that’s a great foundation on which to build. Virtual Assistants are perfect for helping small businesses implement these types of plans as well as to manage other tasks that take up valuable time when you should really be focusing on the products or services that make the wheels spin.

So many Options... Let's Get Started Now!!

So many Options… Let’s Get Started Now!!

Where ever you need help within your business, let’s have a conversation and see where I can help you free up some of your time to start with and to also get your business headed in an organized and vision oriented direction.

Ursula Wachowiak – The Write Hand – Virtual Assistant – the_write_hand@yahoo.com

 

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