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) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. N.J bank acquisition means more competition for business loans.

The proposed takeover of

Hudson City Savings Bank


, one of the oldest savings and loan institutions in the country, by

M&T Bank


could mean good news for small business owners looking to get a bank loan, according to

The Star-Ledger


Hudson City, which was one of the few banks to escape the financial crisis because it did not make subprime mortgage loans and did not need a federal bailout, has now found itself in a bit of a business model pickle. Since its bread and butter was residential mortgages, the bank had decided to expand into the commercial banking arena. The takeover by M&T will simply speed up that process. M&T plans to hire 100 bankers in New Jersey to go after new commercial business relationships. That will put pressure on other banks in the area to fight for business.

"We would like to be the number-one small business lender in New Jersey," M&T's CFO Rene Jones said in a conference call on Monday.

2. For female entrepreneurs, maternity leave and other long breaks aren't an option.

Building a business is hard for anyone but women have added challenges, particularly if they have children. Taking the typical 12-week maternity leave is usually not an option, especially if you're a sole proprietor or, in the case of Jessie Randall, a shoe and handbag designer, the prime producer in a business.

Crain's New York Business

offers examples of women entrepreneurs who have decided either to take shortened maternity leaves or none at all and how they have compensated.

3. What to do with a loyal employee who no longer has the right skills for the job?

It's one of the hardest decisions facing business owners. What may have been needed at business launch -- someone who is independent and has a can-do-all attitude -- might be different than what is needed when the business is in growth phase and in need of a manager that can delegate, coach, motivate and hold employees accountable. Business owners have four choices, according to Doug and Polly White of

Whitestone Partners

. Either "layer the person," by adding a manager over the employee, which should include discussions long before a new hire is placed. Or you can move the person into another role at the company, where their skill set may be more applicable. Of course there is the option of just letting the employee go, but perhaps a preferable position is to "grow the person into a new role."

The article cautions that the "new role" option can "be fraught with difficulties," since the problems are typically discovered after it affects the company's bottom line and it can be time consuming to get the employee up to speed in his or her new role.

--By Laurie Kulikowski

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:


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