PAUL AND SARAH EDWARDS: LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
MARY ANN HALPIN PHOTOGRAPY
Paul and Sarah
are the co-authors
of a new edition of
Home-Based Business for Dummies
and 16 other small-business books.
UPGRADING A COMPUTER’S operating system
is on our list of things that will disrupt an
office nearly on a par with a fire or a move.
Experience has taught us to upgrade only
with caution or when buying a brand-new
computer. However, sometimes upgrading
becomes as inevitable as death and taxes.
When that time comes, here are some ways
to reduce the pain and maximize the gain.
• Make sure your computer has the
memory and speed to handle the new
gee-whiz systems. In the case of Windows
7, that’s a minimum of 1 gigabyte of RAM, a
microprocessor that runs at least 1 giga-
hertz, 16 gigabytes of available hard disk
and a graphics processor. Without all this,
it’s new-computer time.
is a program-compatability tester and wizard
that troubleshoots settings and automatically makes some older programs, such as
our 2008 version of Quicken, work. We had
to get a new version of QuickBooks, though,
and QuickBooks 10 is better than ever.
The upgrade did take time away from
getting our work done—time to get used to
new ways of doing things and master new
capabilities. But there are usually books to
help this along: in our case, Windows 7 Plain
& Simple, by Jerry Joyce and Marianne
Moon (Microsoft Press, 2009), which has
lots of screen shots to help make the nonobvious obvious; and Windows 7: The
Definitive Guide, by William R. Stanek
(O’Reilly Media, 2009), with 900-plus pages
of detailed explanations.
Would we do it again? Yes. In fact, it
was easier this time, but upgrading remains
high on our list of disruptions, so plan for
the inevitable costs and downtime, and then
enjoy the rewards. C
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THE U.S. DEPARTMENT of
Labor has renamed and
relaunched its Web site,
Disability.gov. The new site
integrates content from 22
federal agencies and was re-
vamped with social media tools to
encourage interaction and feedback, and
offers new ways to organize, share and
receive information. Disability.gov is not
just for those with disabilities, but also
for parents of children with disabilities,
employers, workforce and human-
resources professionals, veterans, educa-
tors, caregivers and many others. C
HOT web site
ACCORDING TO ALICE BREDIN, small-business adviser to American Express
OPEN, there are still things you can do to
help improve your 2009 tax preparation.
• Be proactive. Schedule face time
with your accountant to review 2009 to
ensure that you are taking advantage of all
possible business-related deductions.
• Think green. Federal and some state
governments offer tax credits to business
owners undertaking green initiatives,
including using alternative energy sources
or lower-energy appliances.
• Understand extensions. You can
take advantage of an IRS allowance for a
six-month or longer extension, but understand that it is an extension to file only; you
start accruing interest and/or fines on the
day your taxes are due.
• Manage cash with taxes in mind.
Savvy business owners recommend setting
aside a certain amount of money each
month, based on your previous year’s tax
liabilities. Budget for owing taxes even if
your company is not profitable.
JUPI TER IMAGES
• Don’t rely on memory. Experts say
people who rely on their memory to estimate expenses almost always underestimate the actual amount. Deductions such
as local business travel and fees for professional associations, events and subscriptions are often overlooked. Record expenses
as they occur. Smartphone apps are available for recording on the go.
• Resolve to do better. Once you complete 2009 taxes, take time to establish better habits for 2010. Work now on better
tracking of income and expenses to make
next year’s tax season go more smoothly.
Use a technology-based tool for billing,
tracking and collections.
Find more tax-related small-business