NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Government contractors brace for spending cuts. CNNMoney highlights five small federal contractors that have built successful companies on government funding. The firms are now taking stock -- diversifying into other revenue lines and clients and in some cases preparing for a jump in business -- from the automatic budget cuts coming from Washington. 2. Startup America and Startup Weekend to host NEXT at SXSW Interactive. Ten startups attending the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival next month in Austin will have the chance to hone their customer engagement skills by participating in a shortened version of Startup Weekend's NEXT program. The abbreviated program will feature a number of industry veterans who will mentor the participants during the four-day program. "In just the few short months since its launch, NEXT has enabled hundreds of startups across the country to refine their customer development process, a critical component for any young company trying to reach their goals," said Scott Case, CEO of Startup America, a growing national movement launched at the White House in early 2011 to provide high-growth start-up companies with access to the corporations, investors and services they need to grow and succeed. "We're excited to partner with Startup Weekend and Steve Blank to introduce this curriculum at one of the leading startup events in the country: SXSW Interactive." Participating startups will receive feedback throughout the four-day period, including morning sessions and one-on-one mentoring. In addition, the teams will then spend their days engaging potential customers, honing their business model, participating in office hours and receiving invaluable feedback from investors, media and large corporations, according to the release. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 1. 3. Top tips for starting a business. Thinking of starting a business? No matter what field or sector, every successful business owner has common traits from hard work and planning (especially given the tough -- and competitive -- environment caused by the economy) to marketing, assertiveness and, finally, constant evaluation of progress, according to LinkedIn. -- 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.