"These lenders are extremely entrepreneurial and are leaving the banks behind with their speed and use of technology. Many are backed by premier investment banks and Silicon Valley venture capital powerhouses -- investors who understand that entrepreneurs and small-business owners are throwing up their hands in frustration over how long it can take to get a loan from a bank, especially if the loan is backed by the SBA," Kassar writes. On a positive note, there are indications that the price of alternative lending may be coming down as the industry competition heats up. "The largest banks continue to tout their small-business lending records, but the numbers they provide to back this up are less than convincing," he writes. "We regularly speak with small-business development officers at these banks who are ready to throw up their hands in frustration at their inability to get their clients the help they need. My expectation is that this will not change much in 2013, as the bigger banks simply aren't equipped to handle small-business lending and Washington puts little pressure on them to figure it out." 3. What to know about generators. Failure to plan for natural disasters could result in loss of business, whether it's temporary or long-term. When there's a power outage, like the one that lasted several weeks on Long Island after Hurricane Sandy, having a generator on site can mitigate some of the damage to a small business. TriplePundit.com offers some basic information small-business owners should consider when determining whether to purchase a generator. Safety should be a priority. Portable generators should never be placed indoors when in operation, the article says. Noise is an unfortunate byproduct of generator use, with some models being particularly loud. Automatic standby generators are generally quieter than portable models, the article says. -- 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.