NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Hiring still remains a challenge among small and mid-size companies.The CBIZ ( CBZ) Small Business Employment Index, a monthly barometer of hiring trends for more than 3,500 companies with 300 or fewer employees, rose by 0.82% in November, an improvement considering the 0.89% drop in October. With a less than 1% change, "this month's Small Business Employment Index further verifies that small businesses are still holding back hiring, despite some brighter news economically," says Philip Noftsinger, business unit president for CBIZ Payroll Services. Of the companies surveyed, 26% increased staffing while 20% decreased employee headcounts, the survey found. The Automatic Data Processing November's jobs survey revealed this week that the private sector added 118,000 jobs, exceeding analysts' estimates in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but falling short of October's revised tally of 157,000 added jobs. 2. How to make your company more like Apple. Research has found that at least half of U.S. households own at least one Apple ( APPL) product, meaning there are more than 55 million homes with at least one iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac computer. So what has Apple done to make their products appealing to so many demographics and how can you replicate that success? Tech guru Daniel Burrus writes on LinkedIn that the tech giant has implemented several strategies. First, the company has a long-term plan. "Think back to the 1970s and 1980s. What market did Apple concentrate on? Schools. They made sure their product was a prominent part of education. They knew that the more you get kids used to using Apple products, the more likely they are as adults to keep buying them. That's why today we have adults who grew up in the '70s and '80s who are huge Apple fans. Having a long-term strategy makes sense if you plan on being around for the long term," Burrus writes. However, Apple does not and never has competed on price. Instead, it has focused on its "reputation, image, service, quality, design, time and speed of delivery, value, experience, innovation, knowledge, and loyalty," Burrus adds. Finally, contrary to popular belief, Apple didn't ask customers what they wanted. Rather, the company focused on foresight. "So rather than ask your customers, 'What would you want?', ask yourself, 'Are there tools, products or services we could provide that would give our customers what they would love to do, even though they didn't ask for it, because they didn't know it was possible?' Then you'll have success, Burrus writes. 3. SBA approves more than $150 million in disaster loans to Hurricane Sandy survivors. A month after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $150 million in low-interest disaster loans to about 2,500 homeowners, renters and businesses in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island. "During the past month, I've visited disaster centers and spoken with people who are struggling to reclaim communities and businesses that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and I was impressed by their determination to rebuild stronger," said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. "The SBA is there to support the long-term recovery of the disaster areas, and we will make sure that as many people as possible get the help they need to become whole again." Through Thursday, the total was $156.56 million to 2,507 residents and businesses. The SBA says about 40% of the 29,722 net applications submitted for Hurricane Irene were approved, totaling $480.5 million in disaster loans related to the 2011 storm. The SBA has 377 employees working to assist Hurricane Sandy survivors in 113 disaster- and business-recovery centers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The filing deadline for physical property damage is Dec. 31 for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The economic injury disaster loan application deadline is July 31, 2013. The physical deadline for Rhode Island is Jan. 15, 2013, and the economic injury disaster loan deadline is Aug. 14, 2013. -- 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.