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

1. Starbucks raises the exposure of CDFIs.

CDFIs, or

Community Development Fund Institutions

, are getting increased exposure ever since


(SBUX) - Get Report

launched a fund in November to raise money for the programs. CDFIs, which make loans primarily to small-business owners in communities considered underserved, could be a good option for those who can't get financing elsewhere.

Yet small-business owners should beware of the application process one has to go through in getting a loan from a CDFI, which includes "lots of face time, sitting down and talking and help and suggestions and advice," according to a source in the



The interest rates on CDFI loans are typically higher than bank loans, the article warns.

2. Who gets the small-business vote?

That would be

President Barack Obama, followed by Mitt Romney

, according to the

Huffington Post

, which cited a



The survey, released Tuesday, asked 1,022 business owners about their political views. Tax policy topped the list when pollsters asked which political issue would have the biggest impact on their businesses. When asked a presidential choice for November, Obama garnered 34% of the vote, with Romney coming in second with 17%.

3. Lessons from abroad.

NY Report

, which caters to business owners in the New York City area, offers a great firsthand piece by Wendy Kaufman, founder of

Balancing Life's Issues

, a national corporate training company, on how

incorporating cultural elements from foreign markets

can improve customer relationships in the U.S.

Kaufman shares several insights after a recent business trip to China, including:

  • Pitch with passion, meaning that the more pride you have in your products, especially your high-end goods, the more customers are likely to appreciate them (and buy from you).
  • Money isn't everything. Take pride in your work.
  • Bargain, bargain and bargain more, meaning be "assertive, firm and open to negotiation" with vendors and clients.
  • Deliver superior customer service.
  • Honor and cherish your parents. "In the Chinese culture, family is so valued there is always someone caring for the family member. This type of work/life balance helps improve quality of care in both business and family interactions," Kaufman says.
  • Work harder than you already do, but know when to prioritize family over work.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:


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