The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.By David Sterman NEW YORK ( StreetAuthority) -- With a rising economy comes rising expectations. CEOs at mid-sized and large companies need to find new paths to growth to justify -- or boost -- their company's stock price. That's no mean feat in an economy still in slow-growth mode. As a result, expect to hear about plenty more deal-making in 2011 as smaller companies get acquired to help jumpstart the top line. To be sure, acquiring companies don't want to buy a company many years from generating its own action. Instead, they want companies that have already done a lot of heavy lifting, developing new products and the marketing plans to support them. I've identified four small companies that are truly ripe for a deal. Investors should take a close look at these firms.