NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Happy New Year! What's happening in small business today? 1. Small-business challenges in 2013. Lucky 2013? More like a year of big headaches for small businesses. Between higher taxes and prepping for President Barack Obama's health-care reform, this is shaping up to be a year of big challenges for small businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal. One area that is finally showing signs of relief is access to capital. Thanks to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act passed last year, small companies will be able to sell equity to investors online through crowdfunding sites once regulations are complete. Banks also appear to be loosening the purse strings for small companies. Rising sales are enabling more borrowers to take on debt, the article says. Outstanding commercial and industrial loans under $1 million inched higher last year, the Journal says, citing Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. 2. Speaking of small-business financing ... Overall lending to small firms improved in 2012, good news for entrepreneurs and the economy in 2013, Biz2Credit's Rohit Arora writes in a Small Business Trends column. According to Arora, several trends emerged in 2012, including: record Small Business Administration-backed loans nationwide; greater use of technology to get loans to small businesses; the rising phenomenon of crowdsourcing for capital raising through social media as well as the fast-forward acceptance of alternative lenders in the small-business lending industry. "Although large banks increased the percentage of small-business loans they approved this year, they still typically grant less than one out of five applications on average. Credit unions were a reliable source of small-business funding during the first half of the year before slowing down," Arora says. "Meanwhile, merchant cash-advance companies, accounts-receivable financers and micro lenders all have increased their lending significantly. They offer flexible, increasingly affordable terms, and most importantly, quick decision-making." 3. Super-small-business hiring falls. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees added a net 25,000 jobs in December, according to the latest monthly numbers from Automatic Data Processing. However, businesses with fewer than 20 employees actually lost 6,000 workers last month, the payroll processor found. Overall nonfarm payrolls were better than expected, coming in at 215,000 jobs, exceeding the upwardly revised 148,000 jobs from the prior month and economists' estimates of 133,000 jobs in December. -- 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.