It’s time to catch up! I’ve missed you all.
I love the fall. It’s easily my most favorite time of year.
Living in Ohio most of my life and now Tennessee, I truly appreciate the change of seasons.
The cooler days, falling leaves, and colorful hillsides — all put me in a thoughtful frame of mind and ready for new beginnings.
I dusted off my goals list from earlier this year. It’s time to take inventory.
You know how much I love making and (love even more) crossing off my to-do’s.
I’m happy to see that many things I wanted to accomplish have happened.
But there are still a few big goals that are sitting out there – neglected and half forgotten. Counting today (Monday October 10, 2011) there are 83 days left in this year.
Plenty of time to tackle a few things on the list.
Maybe your list needs to be re-written. As you make accomplish and learn new things, what you want to be, do and have change as well.
In case you need it, you have permission to scrap the old and write a few new ones.
Take time to do a quick inventory. Pick one or two things that you can commit to focus on for the next 83 days. When you have a deadline, you can use the work backward method.
Pull out a calendar and figure out the steps required to get to the end result. Schedule mini-deadlines for each step along the way. Breaking a large goal into small manageable steps helps me keep on track and also prevents the overwhelm that you feel when you want to tackle something new.
I’d love to know what is next for you as we finish 2011.
What have you crossed off your list?
What’s changed for you?
What are you excited to see happen in the next 83 days?
Emailed by Phyllis Nichols on October 11, 2011
For business owners and freelancers facing the new year, creating a highly detailed and excruciatingly organized system for organizing tax-related info from this year may not be the first thing on your mind. But you’d be wise to cobble together at least a simple way of collecting and storing the many bits and pieces of info you’ll need when it comes time to prepare your return to minimize the chances of hitting early April and having a total freak-out.
So if you do nothing else in the coming weeks, tackle these tasks:
Create a tax info organizing system of some sort. If most or all of your tax-related info (such as bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, and the like) is in paper form, go for file folders, an accordion file, or even a giant envelope–any container large enough to hold all of the 2011 records you’ll need. If you’ve got info stored electronically, create at least one basic folder (“2011 Taxes,” say) on your computer, and stick it on your desktop if you think you’re likely to forget about it.
Gather stuff up. Once you’ve got a place to store your tax-related info, go through your files, piles, drawers, and what-have-you to gather into it the documents you need. As new stuff arrives (think 1099s, end-of-year summaries, mysterious forms from the IRS), add it to the mix.
Deal with your receipts. Tax deductions can be a huge boon for business owners, but first you need to figure out what you actually spent on your business and what all you can deduct. (the IRS doesn’t so much want you to guesstimate, and especially not without some sort of documentation to back up said guess.) This means, yes, it’s time to deal with that wad of business expense receipts. If you work with a tax preparer, he or she can tell you the best way to sort these suckers–by month, by quarter, by expense type, etc. If you’ll be doing much (or all) of your tax prep yourself, consider sorting receipts by expense type, using the same categories you’ll use on your Schedule C. Really, really hate the prospect of having to sort and organize all those little slips of paper? Now is the perfect time to hire someone to help you through the task.
Calculate your mileage. If you’ll be taking a business-related driving deduction, save yourself some anguish and calculate your mileage now. Been using a mileage log? You have little but some
simple addition ahead of you. Been maybe a little lax in the tracking department? Use Google Maps or the like to determine the distance you’ve been traveling, and consider creating a basic spreadsheet to tally up your miles.
Figure out your 2011 business income. Finally, we turn to that little thing called income, a.k.a. the purpose of your business in the first place. The ways of determining your total 2011 business income are as varied as the ways of billing your clients and customers, so there’s not one method that will work for everyone. Whether you run a report in your bookkeeping program, do a final tally in the spreadsheet you’ve been using, or do some good old-fashioned calculator-based addition if you’ve been invoicing clients on paper, figuring out your final number now means one less things to deal with later
A list of common deductible business expenses follows. You’ll likely have expenses that are not on this list. If they are ordinary and necessary for your business and you have the appropriate back-up materials (i.e. receipts and/or canceled checks), they are deductible:
• Accounting and bookkeeping fees
• Bank service charges (If you have only one bank account, these fees must be prorated between business and personal use.)
• Car and truck expenses
• Computer supplies and software
• Conferences and seminars you’ve attended
• Contract labor, including subcontractors and consultants
• Credit card annual fees for cards used in your business (as with bank charges, these fees will need to be pro-rated if you use the same card for business and personal expenses.)
• Education related to your business (but not to enter a new occupation)
• Entertainment and business meals (these are 50% deductible)
• Equipment, including computers
• Furniture for your office or home office
• Gifts to business associates (up to $25 per person per year is deductible)
• Home office expenses (To qualify for the deduction, you must have a space that’s used regularly and exclusively for your business)
• Insurance (liability, malpractice, etc. but not disability.)
• Interest on business credit cards and loans (like bank charges, these fees may need to be pro-rated)
• Legal and professional fees, including costs for preparing the business portion of your tax return
• Licenses and fees
• Magazines and books that you need for your business
• Maintenance and repairs on equipment and office/store space
• Office supplies
• Online fees (these need to be pro-rated between business and personal use)
• Payroll taxes paid on behalf of your employees (not the portion withheld from their paychecks)
• Printing and copying
• Rent of equipment or store/office space
• Small furnishings and equipment
• Small tools
• Telephone (You can deduct long distance business calls made from home even if you don’t qualify for an office-in-home. Monthly service charges on a home phone are deductible only if you have more than one phone line.)
• Uniforms or special work clothing (e.g. steel toed boots or coveralls)
• Wages paid to employees
© Jan Zobel 2010
Jan Zobel is a Bay Area tax professional (enrolled agent) who specializes in working with self-employed people. She is the author of Minding Her Own Business: the Self-Employed Woman’s Guide to Taxes and Recordkeeping.
Many business owners wear lots of hats: from answering phone calls to meeting potential clients, there is a lot to be accomplished. If you are spending the majority of your time promoting your business by writing sales letters, designing newsletters, updating your facebook or twitter account, making sure your bookkeeping is in order – Who is meeting with your prospects and clients?
By delegating some of the day-to-day business functions to a virtual assistant, a business owner can actually get back to what matters: GROWING the business!
Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who provide off-site administrative, accounting and technical support to individuals and business owners.
According to the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA), the average small business owner spends up to 40% of their time on routing administrative tasks.
What are some of the tasks you would consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant?
N.U.V Solutions, LLC
Your Online Office Manager
via How Entrepreneurs Receive Support from Hiring Virtual Assistants? – EAV Networking Group (Atlanta, GA) – Meetup.
People will invest in betterment, and success is among the most attractive factors that a business can possess.
When your business has reached that highly-anticipated stage where you transcend management into industry mastery, you should consider it your next step to turn that success into a book for others to learn from. You’re good. You’re smart. You have a system in place. But how do you attract an audience?
The answer lays in how fads — or memes — catch on like fire in dry brush these days. I often advise my clients to play into this as best as they’re able. Consider the following examples:
* The 17 Day Diet
* Think and Grow Rich
* The 4-Hour Workweek
* The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
What do they have in common? They don’t leave much guesswork to the audience. You know immediately what they’re about. They’re also catch-phrases that tickle curiosity and carry well through word of mouth, which are central components of strong memes.
The key to creating a catch-phrase is to be creative in how you communicate. Make it easy for your readers to remember your message, then make it easy for them to spread it to others. The catchier your title is, the more likely it will burn the barriers between your business’ present place in the market and that industry-leading position you crave.
When you take the essence of your business and turn it into an incentive for change, you will create a strong public presence for yourself. And if you can capitalize on creative approaches and clever terminology, then people won’t simply want to follow, they’ll encourage others to try it out for themselves. Such support is invaluable, and you can only attain it by redefining your message and turning it into a book.
I have been asked many times during my 26-year tenure, “How do you stay motivated?” I say I hang with positive people, teach my friends and family how to give me positive support, read books, journal and take part in positive activities. This month The Black Doll Affair (BDA) is journaling positive motivation to each other. It is so wonderful to see the positive comments and the goals that our dolls are setting. Come take a look at what one thoughtful person, Dana Hill, has given to hundreds of black dolls, their porcelain pals, and our brothers. What a fanatical job, Dana! Thank you Mama Doll.
Sunshine Secretarial Services
Microsoft and QuickBoooks Certified
Referrals are welcome
I read the above article and just had to post it. Not only do I think that the economy has forced us to rethink our income resources but has helped us realize that we are in control of our lives to some extent. While struggling with resumes, job application, and interviews, the disappointment in not finding suitable opportunity or pay has pushed many people to consider their own business. In the pursuit of survival we have considered our likes, dislikes, skills and talents to sell to our peers. With the discovery of actually being paid directly for our services or products we have began and maintained funding to live on. That I feel is success with a different definition. Click on the link above and discover a ladder climber who decided that relaxation is a better option. Find your passion and live a new definition.
Terri Holley, Sunshine Secretarial Services, www.terriholley.com, 404-402-6979 “Customized to Satisfy”
It is said handshakes are exchanged more the currency. It takes only five seconds to make an impression, so why not make it right! Your handshake speaks volumes – it may say, “I’m standoffish,” “I’m overbearing,” “I’m insecure,” or “I’m confident and glad to meet you.” The handshake that is confident and positive is one that is a web-to-web shake. In other words, the web between your thumb and index finger should touch the other person’s web. It should not be a fingertip handshake or a limp handshake. It should be firm but not bone crushing. Send the professional impression from the start by following these simple steps to a great handshake.
by Christine Chen, Founder, Global Professional Protocol
OK, I started this conversation, so I decided to dig out some information that was relevant. Here is an article that may be helpful. Please let me know what you think…comments are welcome.
7 Social Networking Websites Your Business Should Be Involved In
Date Submitted: 8/15/2008
Social networking for businesses offers a couple of major advantages. Not only does it help you build a list of contacts and leads directly through the site, but it can also help to build your search engine link profile, ultimately giving you greater search engine results and an increased level of search engine traffic. Because social networking is one of the biggest phenomenon to hit the Internet there are many sites that you can use to promote your business and becoming an active and useful member of these communities will help to increase exposure for your website and business.
1 – LinkedIn – a social networking site geared solely towards professionals and businesses. It is also structured in such a way that when you add a new member to your list of connections, it also adds their connections to your list, and the connection of their connections. This three tier structure can help you build a mammoth list of new contacts to greatly improve your exposure.
2 – Facebook – While Facebook is not geared solely towards professionals and businesses, the audience it attracts is a more mature one with a heavy slant towards business relationships. Some of the unique features and opportunities, including the Facebook marketplace and Facebook applications, also make it a powerful addition to a social media optimization campaign.
3 – MySpace – MySpace was one of the first social media websites that was tapped into by the business community. Unfortunately, it is also largely frequented by unethical advertisers meaning that you have to be extremely cautious to offer genuinely valuable content otherwise users will ignore your messages and your efforts. The MySpace Groups are, however, a genuinely useful pool of information and contacts.
4 – Reddit – Reddit is a social bookmarking website. Members can add stories, news pieces, and articles that are then read by other users and bookmarked if they are good. The more pieces you submit and the more bookmarks you receive the greater your exposure and the better you will fare with your social media optimization and your search engine rankings.
5 – Squidoo – Squidoo is similar to Reddit in that it is a social bookmarking site. There is also a section that enables registered users to answer niggling questions posed by other users, further promoting your profile as being an expert in a particular field. Set up a profile page that answers users questions that they are likely to have (in your field of choice) and then set about answering questions and joining conversations that are relevant to your business.
6 – Newsvine – Newsvine is a social media website that lets businesses register and then post to the general community. Employees of your business (or you) can post regular pieces and insights into your business further promoting what you do and how you help clients and customers. Newsvine isn’t as popular as other social media websites but it does have a strong following that is growing.
7 – YouTube – It would be remiss to ignore YouTube in any article pertaining to social networking and social media. Virtually any business that wants to be successful in social media optimization, or in viral marketing, has created a video and posted it to the YouTube community. Videos can be instructional, informational, educational, humorous, or commercially based. If they’re good then they will go viral to some extent and you can count on some good traffic for your efforts. Why Social Networking Online Promotes Businesses? The key to social networking is activity. You need to be regularly active and that activity needs to provide benefit to other members of the community. By doing this you can effectively promote any website or any business and generate more traffic to a website and improve conversion levels, income, and profit.
That was a very interesting article. I really didn’t know there was so much available in 2008. Don’t you wonder how much more is out there NOW! I advise you to take some time and find out. With just this small amount of education, I have learned a lot. Let me know what you find and we’ll collaborate online. TTYS.
Sunshine Secretarial Services
QuickBooks and Microsoft Certified
All referrals are appreciated.
Everyone is hounding us about becoming a part of social media. This blog is based upon my own feelings, no statistics, or proven facts, just how I feel about the social media hype. OK, here goes….
First of all what does the word “Social” mean. Let’s see, OK, Wikipedia says, “In the absence of agreement about its meaning, the term “social” is used in many different senses and regarded as a fuzzy concept.” Dictionary.com says, “Friendly Companionship.” The Merriam-Webster online says something about allies or confederates, pleasant companionship, relating to human society, interdependent.
I am sure you get the message now. We are supposed to be friendly and form a relationship. So does that mean that we are suppose to be friendly and form a relationship through media?
I’ve been on Facebook for over a year and not everything is so friendly and I haven’t really formed a “Companionship,” through it. I have kept in touch with business and personal associates, friends, and family, but those relationships were already formed….I think, lol??? So are we being hounded to make friends and be friendly to strangers, through social media? I don’t remember exactly where, but I’ve seen comments that say, “If you are not on Facebook, then your business will suffer. Whoaaaa….my business will suffer…really!!!
I keep asking business owners how much business have they gotten from FREE social media, and so far the answer has been very little or none at all. I know you are suppose to form relationships with people that you meet, to make them your customers in the long run, but isn’t that what happens naturally? How many people have you met that have actually boosted your bottom line, without you targeting them for business? Yea, think about it.
I am not saying, “Don’t partake of social media.” I am just posing the question to business people and individuals, a like. With all there is to do, do you really have time for social media as a business chore, and if you don’t partake of social media, will your life or business really suffer.
I’m just askin……………………..
Terri Holley, Virtual Assistant
Sunshine Secretarial Services