Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook – Social Media Circle

Social media has become a hub of activity–literally! With multiple Likes/Dislikes, Follows and Pins popular social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are keeping the conversation going. The latest Mashable’s chart was posted on their blog, Tweeted about, Liked on Facebook and then also pinned on Pinterest. I’m sure Mashable has utilized even more social media sites–they are the masters at using social media tools and are a great resource for business owners on how they can market their products through social media. Here is Mashable’s latest chart about Twitter, which was recently pinned on Pinterest:

Responsive Web Design

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive Web Design”, is the buzzword of the year and we’re sure you have been seeing the term used a lot lately. But as catchy as it sounds, what responsive web design really boils down to is making sure a website will look good and function well no matter what hardware device is utilized.  For example, if a smart phone is being used to, say… order pizza through a restaurant’s website, then for a positive consumer experience the customer needs to be able to navigate and type easily on his smart phone without having to hunt and peck for how to process his order.

To be responsive, a website needs the following key items:

  • Context-aware images: fluid images, which appear larger or smaller, depending on the viewing mode. These are also known as responsive images.
  • A flexible, fluid grid: a layout that is easy to resize, designed in terms of proportions. It can easily adjust to the device where it’s being viewed.
  • Media queries: these queries allow you to collect data about the site visitor and apply particular coded styles based on the user’s device, or resolution.

As more and more consumers rely on mobile devices, iPads and tablets, many companies are having to build several sites for different platforms, or provide one hub for content that will respond to the user’s particular device. The challenge to web developers is building a website with long term uses in mind. This is an important step as–in our opinion–the demise of the desktop computer is probably not far off.

In general, Responsive Web Design is less about technology and more about design, and using a set of techniques to present the website content to the viewer based on his or her device of choice. To test if a site is “responsive” on your desktop, you can stretch the screen width back to be larger and smaller, and see the site layout adjust itself to fit to the new width. If it doesn’t, then it is fixed width and less likely to render well across multiple device uses.  If you have various devices, take a look at Gallop Web Services website to see how it adapts to different device uses.

Gallop Web Services | Responsive Web Design


Facebook Changes Default Email Addresses Without Permission

I like Facebook and understand it value as a social media tool, but I have a real problem with the company changing my contact information without asking me.  Facebook is in the process of making an across the board change to all 900 million users profile pages without telling or asking us about it. The social media giant is setting every user’s default email address to [name] I took a look at my own account and sure enough, my default email address had already been changed and was shown under my contact information.

In case you don’t already know, the default email address is the contact information other users see on your page if they want to send you an email.  Every Facebook user has automatically been assigned a free “” email account for a while now, but many people don’t bother using it.  As a  business owner, I know I prefer to publicize my business email address instead–it’s more professional. So, seeing the FB address in place of what was originally there is a problem for me.  I’m sure Facebook would love to take some of Google and Yahoo’s free email account business, but automatically defaulting its users contact emails is a bad idea. I’m not alone in this view… several other bloggers are also writing about the change, with many highly critical of the switch.

The good news is the setting can easily be changed to a user’s preferred email address by manually editing the “contact info” section of each user’s profile. I went ahead and switched my FB email address to hidden and my original email address back to public view:

On a positive note, I do like that when I changed my password Facebook sent me an email to make sure it was what I wanted. They also offered an across the board change to the applications I have tied to FB. It is reassuring to know they are taking serious strides to ensure a user’s Facebook account hasn’t been hacked into.


Grow Your Business Luncheon

Loudoun Chamber of Commerce
Grow Your Business Luncheon

Tuesday, March 20th at noon

You’ve set up your LinkedIn profile, established your contacts, and received terrific LinkedIn recommendations. Now is the time to explore the more robust advanced site features that are available with your free LinkedIn membership. Kathi Watts of Gallop Web Services will review applications that allow you to connect with your audience, share Power Point presentations, documents and more using your LinkedIn account.  Lunch is provided.

Join us for lunch, networking and some tips on using Advanced Features of LinkedIn.

Gallop Web Services is a proud member of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce

Building a Website Strategy through SEO

Building a Website Strategy through SEO

When business owners discuss search engine optimization with us what they are basically saying is they want to bring people to their website “now!” and it doesn’t really matter how they get there. Well, it does matter “how” you get people to a site and it also matters “why” you trying to drive them there in the first place. Read more

Which Browser Are You Using?

Keep Your Web Browser Updated for Better Security and Internet Experience

Old, outdated browsers can interfere with how a website looks and–more importantly–may be a security risk.  Check to make sure you are using the latest browser versions installed on your computer.  Current versions of the major browsers are Firefox 3.6,  Safari 5, Google Chrome 7, Internet Explorer 8 and Opera 10.63.  If you are using an old version of Internet Explorer and are blocked from updating your browser yourself, try the Google Chrome Frame plug-in. It will bring into IE some of the capabilities of Google Chrome.

Short-term Tax Relief for Small Businesses

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010

On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297). The legislation contains several provisions designed to ensure that small businesses have access to adequate credit. The Act also contains targeted short-term tax relief for small businesses.

Specific tax changes include:

  • Increased IRC Section 179 expense limits — Effective for 2010 and 2011, the maximum amount that a business is able to expense under IRC Section 179 is increased to $500,000 (without the legislation, the expense limit would have been $250,000 for 2010 and $25,000 for 2011). The $500,000 limit is reduced if capital expenditures exceed $2 million. The Act also temporarily expands the application of Section 179 to up to $250,000 of certain real property (for example, qualified restaurant property).
  • First-year “bonus” depreciation extended — The Act extends the additional 50% first-year depreciation deduction that was in effect for 2008 and 2009 for one year, to qualified property acquired and placed in service during 2010.
  • Small business stock exclusion increased — The Act temporarily increases the exclusion percentage for qualified small business stock purchased by individuals to 100%, and does not treat the excluded gain as an alternative minimum tax preference item. Therefore, subject to certain limits, you’ll pay no regular tax or alternative minimum tax on the sale of qualified small business stock acquired at original issue after September 27, 2010, and before January 1, 2011, provided you hold the stock for at least five years.
  • Small businesses get enhanced general business credit — Eligible small businesses (generally, non-publicly traded corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships with gross receipts averaging $50 million or less) will be able to carry back excess general business credits up to 5 years (instead of 1) in 2010, and will be able to use the general business credit to offset both regular and alternative minimum tax liability.
  • Health insurance costs will reduce self-employment tax — If you’re self-employed and pay health insurance premiums for you or your family, you get a break on your 2010 self-employment tax (the tax that you calculate on Form 1040, Schedule SE). That’s because, for 2010 only, the deduction you get for the cost of health insurance for yourself and your family will apply in calculating your earnings for purposes of self-employment tax as well as in reducing your income for income tax purposes.
  • Cell phones no longer listed property — Effective 2010, cell phones are not considered listed property, significantly reducing the substantiation rules and depreciation limits that apply when cell phones are used for business purposes.
  • New reporting requirements for rental property expenses — With some exceptions, starting in 2011, if you receive rental income from real property, you’ll be required to file an information return (Form 1099) when you make payments totaling $600 or more to a service provider (such as a plumber, painter, or accountant) for rental property expenses.

Portion of nonqualified annuity can be annuitized — Beginning in 2011, if you have a nonqualified annuity (an annuity that is held outside of a qualified retirement plan or IRA), you can annuitize only a portion of the annuity, provided the annuitization period is for 10 years or more, or is for the lives of one or more individuals. The portion of the annuity or contract that is annuitized will be treated as a separate contract, and the investment in the annuity will be allocated on a pro-rata basis.


Google Search Engines

How Google Search Engines Work

It’s so important to have well written, website content that is written not only for your intended audience but the search engines as well. Here is a short, very good explanation of how Google search engines work.

Health Insurance for Small Business Owners

Health-Care Tax Relief for the Self-Employed

If you are self-employed and your business is a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC, or sole-owner S-corp, you can indeed deduct your health insurance expenses for 2010. This one-year provision is not a part of the health-care reform bill that passed in March, however. It was included in the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act that President Barack Obama signed into law just last month.

“In this economic climate, any kind of bottom line tax savings is helpful,” says Kristie Arslan, executive director of the National Association for the Self-Employed, a Washington-based lobbying group. “This is one of the few small business provisions that’s been passed where business owners will actually see lower taxes on Apr. 15, 2011.”

Her organization has championed the deduction for more than eight years and unsuccessfully tried to get it included in the health-care reform law.

he new provision corrects what Arslan calls a fundamental unfairness: Self-employed individuals cannot deduct the full cost of health insurance premiums as a business expense on their payroll taxes, as other business entities can do.

Although the new law authorizes the deduction only for 2010, Arslan says it’s “a foot in the door” for self-employed individuals, who pay both the employer and employee portions of the payroll tax—a self-employment tax totaling 15.3 percent. Employees typically pay half that amount (7.65 percent) and their employers cover the other half as part of their payroll taxes. The new deduction exempts solo business owners from paying self-employment tax on the portion of their income that they spend on health premiums. “This is a step in the right direction. We’re hoping to extend it and make it permanent,” Arslan says.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Starting a Small Business

Why You Should Hurry Up and Start a Small Business Already

If you’ve been thinking about starting a small business, you might want to take the plunge before the end of the year. Why? Goodies in several recently passed new laws offer tax breaks that were previously unavailable to entrepreneurs.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the breaks you and your investors could take if you start a business in 2010:

  • Only this year, you can deduct $10,000 of startup costs, double the previous figure.
  • Write off 100 percent of up to $500,000 in equipment costs your first year. If you have costs beyond there, you can write off 50 percent of them right away under the bonus depreciation clause.
  • Investors can sell qualified business stock between March of this year and January 2012 tax-free. Any profit is also exempt from the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Take a 35 percent tax credit on your company’s health-insurance premiums.
  • Your local community bank may have more money to lend you, thanks to $30 billion in new federal funding for small-business loans.
  • Take a $2,500 hiring credit if you hire a qualified worker this year, or $5,000 next year.
  • Get a credit up to $5,000 if you hire

There’s more, but this gives you some of the highlights. Consult your tax professional for details on all the many ways your startup can benefit from the tax breaks in new federal laws.