NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Should aspiring entrepreneurs get unemployment benefits? Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills are advocating an initiative to make it easier for laid-off workers to collect unemployment while starting a business. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the would-be entrepreneurs wouldn't have to hire people to be eligible for the benefits, they would just have to show that they are really spending their time creating the new venture. While the idea isn't new, only seven states have programs that allow for this; the rest of the states require unemployment recipients to show that they are actively looking for work. The two agency heads are looking to change this ratio, by offering "model language for legislators to amend existing state unemployment compensation law or draft new authorizing legislation," which includes a sweetener -- states would be able to get federal money to help set up the self-employment assistance programs, the article says. 2. Why your small business should be exporting. U.S. manufacturers are in a favorable position to export goods overseas, particularly with new data that suggests that American-made goods hold high cachet overseas, according to ThomasNet.com. "Exporting enables companies to expand markets, generate new distribution and revenue streams, and weather changes in the domestic economy," the article explains. Being able to export goods may not just be a competitive advantage, but a means of survival for businesses. If you're just starting out now, two countries that hold strong potential for receiving American-made goods are Canada and Mexico. 3. Eight things your startup needs to do before the end of the year. The time is now to tie up any loose ends regarding financial or legal aspects of your business and Mashable compiled eight tasks that all small-business owners should take care of before the ball drops, starting with getting a handle on your company's profits and losses. Take advantage of some last-minute 2012 tax strategies, such as equipment purchases. As of right now, Section 179 deduction limits are set to plummet next year, the article says. It's also a good idea to set up a retirement plan, if you don't already have one. Make sure you verify your 1099/W2 information with up-to-date records. Other strategies include formally closing an inactive business that you don't plan to revive by filing "Articles of Dissolution" or "Certificate of Termination" document so you're not on the hook for an annual report, fees, tax returns, etc., with the state. -- 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.