Our daily blend of the latest news, trends and tips for the small business community.

What’s going ‘on’:

Retail sales jumped 4.1 percent in March, according to an early reading. (Ian Waldie/BLOOMBERG)

Small business employment jumps higher: The National Federation of Independent Business’s latest economic survey shows that small companies collectively added an average of 0.22 workers per firm, the highest rate of growth since the first couple months of 2011. However, a lack of qualified applicants for available positions is currently holding back job growth.

Revenue-based financing takes hold: A funding method known as revenue-based financing is catching on with early-stage firms that have reliable streams of income. The arrangement falls somewhere between traditional bank loans and venture capital, in that firms invest a few hundred-thousand or million dollars into a start-up, and the start-up pays them back from its monthly earnings.

Keep an eye ‘on’:

Small businesses vying for a sweet new office: Office furnishing provider Turnstone earlier this week kicked off its “Win a Sweet New Office!” contest, which will give five small businesses a chance to win a $25,000 office makeover. Employ fewer than 100 people? Think your office could use a now look? Apply here.

Hair styles providing economic readings: John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Paul Mitchell hair care company and the Patron tequila brand, recently called beauty salons the best economic indicator. During a downturn, he said, customers will stretch their salon visits to eight weeks, but when the economy is on the mend, customers resume their preferred schedule of every six weeks.

Helpful advice ‘on’:

How to prepare your pitch to investors (Entrepreneur)

How to attract a cash mob to your store (Open Forum)

How to secure your company data in the cloud (NFIB)

How to turn clients into loyal advocates (Fast Company)