NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. How to get a jump on 2012 holiday sales. Small merchants should take a page from big retailers and start their preparations for the holiday shopping season. According to Rieva Lesonsky's GrowSmartBusiness blog, citing a Hay Group survey, 75% of big retailers expect holiday sales to increase compared to 2011. The optimism is a good sign for small retailers who need to make sure they're getting their fair share. Here are a few tips: 1. Small merchants should hire their seasonal staff now. Competition is likely to get stiff considering that many large retailers plan to not only higher seasonal staff but permanent staff as well. (Kohl's and Wal-Mart Stores have already announced plans to hire 50,000 seasonal workers each.) 2. Start testing promotions in the next few weeks. Learn which ones sell well and avoid getting stuck with excess inventory and being forced to discount more than you want. Half of the survey's respondents say they plan to offer fewer discounts than in 2011, which means small businesses have more breathing room, Lesonsky writes. 3. Rev up your e-commerce engine. Make sure your website is in good working order and there are no quirks to your fulfillment system. Finally, while mobile shopping is still in its infancy, at the very least, make sure your website is optimized for mobile use and that your retail location is listed on local search directories for customers to easily find. 2. Obama's 18 small business tax cuts explained. CNNMoney put out a pretty good "fact check" article on the 18 small business tax cuts touted by the Obama administration. To be sure, many tax cuts are renewals of breaks that already existed, while others are expansions of previous breaks. Additionally, every time a measure gets renewed the Obama administration counts it among the tax cuts. Even more complicated is that some of the tax breaks, like the payroll tax exemption, have already expired. CNNMoney finds that the list actually comes to 14 tax breaks, with only five that are still around -- the health care tax credit, shorter holding periods for business owners planning to sell, mobile phone deductions, startup deductions and limited penalties on tax errors. 3. SBA and AARP to host the National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day. To encourage and mentor entrepreneurs over 50, the Small Business Administration has teamed up with AARP to host their first joint event: National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day on October 2. Events will be hosted by SBA district offices across the country. With one in four individuals ages 44 to 70 interested in becoming entrepreneurs and 63% of Americans planning to work during retirement, small business ownership is a good option, the SBA says. The event will match these "encore entrepreneurs" with successful business owners and community leaders for advice and assistance. Events will include speed mentoring -- allowing mentors and entrepreneurs to share information during five-minute sessions, and mentor lunches for entrepreneurs to learn from successful business owners. The events also will help connect encore entrepreneurs with mentors from SBA's network of Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers and SCORE chapters who can help throughout the life of an entrepreneur's business. Separately, for business owners considering a bank loan through an SBA program, the SBA is also holding a virtual loan clinic on October 3. The free webinar, held either at 9 a.m. ET or 12 p.m. ET, will provide information on what lenders are looking for in a loan application and how the SBA loan programs can benefit your business. At the specified time, log in to enter meeting code 8888582144 and access code 2779422. -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. Follow @LKulikowski To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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