What’s going on:

Time running out on lawmakers: The fiscal cliff is less than a week ago, and with no deal in sight, President Obama is returning from vacation early for one final push. Already, government workers are feeling the squeeze.

HSBC pushes back against tax hikes: Republicans on the House Small Business Committee are making their voices heard in the fiscal cliff dispute, warning against potential threats to small employers.

Keep an eye on:

Start-ups helping small firms:A number of technology companies have sprouted in recent years that can help small business owners outsource some of their daily duties.

Helpful advice on:

How to avoid a big holiday financing hangover (OSB)

How to push a company past “start-up”(Open Forum)

How to determine if federal contracting is for you (SBA)

How to make the most of holiday downtime (Entrepreneur)