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

1. Best small and midsize companies to work for.

This week the

Great Place to Work Institute

announced its annual winners for the ninth annual

Great Place to Work Best Small & Medium Workplaces


The lists, which ra n in


magazine, welcomed 18 newcomers to the list and saw five companies that have made the list every single year since the inception of the rankings, CEO Susan Lucas-Conwell says.

The U.S.-based companies span industries and regions and pay between 50% and 100% of health care premiums for their employees, among other traits.

There is also an increasing trend toward flexible work options; 43 of the 50 ranked offer some form of flexible working hours; while 80% allow employees to telecommute some or all of the time, Conwell writes in her


of the rankings.

2. Should you join an accelerator?

Joining a start-up accelerator requires time and a substantial commitment, between the long hours and a requirement to give up a percentage (usually around 7%) of equity in your business. Depending on the accelerator you join, you may also be required to move to a different city. Before plunging, heed these considerations, according to the Kauffman Foundation's

Startup Weekend


Make sure the accelerator's reputation is sound, including connections to venture capital firms and mentors with real entrepreneurial experience.

Determine how much hands-on mentorship you want as some accelerators have lots of scheduled programs, mentor sessions and group activities, while others are more flexible, the article says.

Going through an accelerator in Silicon Valley, for example, will expose the entrepreneur to a fast-paced, ultra-competitive environment. Can you handle the pressure?

Figure out if your start-up business is unique, either by industry or by specific skill, and look for accelerators that cater to these specialties.

Finally, make sure to consider all your options -- including incubators, which "can provide office space, a collaborative environment, and some mentorship, but without the funding," as well as competitions for funding without giving up equity, the article notes.

3. Food trucks roll onto college and university campuses.

The burgeoning food truck trend has made its way to college and university campuses, with many independent contractors already on campus. Now school food service operators are also realizing food trucks can be a profitable addition to their programs, according to



"Food trucks not only have the same restaurant offerings that college students crave, but they also provide the convenience of moving operations around campus and accepting school dining plans," according to



Michigan State University operates the Eat at State On-The-Go food truck, which uses local ingredients for its burgers, sandwiches, salads, snacks and drinks year-round. The food truck accepts cash, credit cards, dining plans and "Spartan Cash" for payment.

Under its UW Street Food brand, The University of Washington offers a number of university-operated food trucks that serve anything from hot dogs and barbecue sandwiches to street tacos and Korean cuisine,



-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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