NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Small businesses take on big data. A group of startups are looking to help small companies find cost-effective ways to use data to better serve customers and improve the bottom line, according to Reuters. Tableau, for instance, is a business-analytics firm that creates software to help businesses understand their customer data. One small company used the firm to show "client data detailing problems with queuing in their checkout lines," the article says. The company also used Tableau data to show how Facebook messages affected sales and customer engagement. Data is not just for tech companies, either, Reuters notes. One farm-to-table restaurant uses Swipely to process credit card payments and track customer data, such as birthdays, anniversaries, favorite meals, restaurant spending, and even when they visit, the article says. "Say it's one of our best customers and they come every Saturday night and they love the salmon dish," the restaurant owner says. "If I get salmon in, I can send them a note and let them know I have their favorite dish." "The Swipely system captures all the personal information, all the things that we don't necessarily have time to capture ourselves," he adds. >>>Small Business Tax Calendar 20132. Small-firm hiring up in January. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees increased their hiring efforts by 0.11% in January, representing 20,000 new jobs added, while overall revenue dropped 0.4% in December, according to Intuit ( INTU) Payroll as cited by The Wall Street Journal. 3. Smoothie King new franchisee incentive program. As part of its 40th anniversary, Smoothie King, the premier smoothie and nutritional lifestyle center, unveiled a franchise development incentive program on Monday. Smoothie King is offering new franchisees 40% off of its initial franchise fee -- a savings of $10,000 -- for the first 40 new agreements of 2013. "At Smoothie King, we are proud of our brand heritage and excited to mark our 40th anniversary with a new, limited incentive program for new franchisees," said Smoothie King Global CEO Wan Kim. "Our goal is to encourage multi-unit development and continue to position Smoothie King as the most recognized smoothie concept in the world. We recently posted our 20th consecutive month of positive same-store sales. The future of our brand looks very bright." Smoothie King is experiencing energized growth under new brand owner Kim, with its plans to add 1,000 new franchised and corporate locations domestically over the next five years. Even with more than 500 locations in the U.S., Smoothie King still has extensive franchise opportunities available in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, as well as Texas, the company says. International development includes master franchise and corporate expansion in Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. -- 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.