3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: October 2

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales growth slowing. The National Retail Federation is forecasting retail sales to slow this holiday season, rising just 4.1% to $586 billion, compared to 5.6% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2010, a Reuters article says.

The trade association blames mixed economic data as well as political uncertainty weighing on consumers spending decisions in the last two months of the year.

Holiday sales can potentially account for one-third of retailers' annual revenue and, since consumer spending makes up 70% of the overall economy, it's an important economic gauge, the article says.

One of the biggest things holding consumers back is the so-called fiscal cliff, meaning federal spending cuts and tax increases across the board set for 2013. The NRF forecast includes most traditional retail categories but excludes sales at automotive dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.

Separately, Shop.org, the NRF digital division, forecasts holiday online sales to rise 12% to a range of $92 billion to $96 billion.

2. U.K. tech entrepreneurs start polishing your pitches. American rapper will.i.am and Simon Cowell, the man behind American Idol and The X Factor, are collaborating on a new reality TV show that will search for the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Reports first came out Monday in the U.K. press, while will.i.am was in London speaking at a conference.

Additional details are few so far, yet observers are expecting the show to be similar to Share Tank or its U.K counterpart Dragon's Den, where a panel of angel investors judge entrepreneurs based on their pitches and invest in the ideas they like best, according to an account on Entrepreneur.com, which quoted will.i.am as saying at a tech conference in London, "We're working on a project called X Factor for Tech -- and it's going to be out of this world. ... Singing and performance create a couple of jobs. But this will create lots."

3. Immigrant entrepreneurship on the verge of decline. For the first time in decades, the growth of immigrant entrepreneurship, particularly high-tech startups, has stalled, according to a study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The report shows that the proportion of immigrant-founded companies nationwide has slipped to 24.3% from 25.3% since 2005. The drop is even more pronounced in Silicon Valley, where the percentage of immigrant-founded startups declined to 43.9% from 52.4%.

The report evaluated the rate of immigrant entrepreneurship from 2006 to 2012. It updates findings from a 2007 Kauffman study that examined immigrant-founded companies between 1995 and 2005.

"For several years, anecdotal evidence has suggested that an unwelcoming immigration system and environment in the U.S. has created a 'reverse brain drain.' This report confirms it with data," said Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "To maintain a dynamic economy, the U.S. needs to embrace immigrant entrepreneurs."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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