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

What’s going ‘on’:

Small business hiring ended the year with a thud, but employers are cautiously optimistic heading into 2012. (Rebecca Cook/REUTERS)

Nevertheless, the unemployment rate dropped: United States employers added 200,000 jobs in December, pushing the unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. Private employers added 212,00 jobs, moving the total of private-sector jobs created in 2011 to 1.9 million.

Planned layoffs also declined: American employers reported 41,785 planned layoffs last month, down 1.6 percent over the previous month to the lowest mark since this past summer, according to a report released Thursday by consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas. However, the tally still rang in higher than the same month one year ago.

Start-up salaries barely lag those at large tech firms: The overall base salary is roughly 5 to 10 percent lower at start-ups than at top technology companies, like Microsoft and Google, according to a new report from Startup Digest. Unlike large tech corporations, most start-ups don’t offer retirement plans or cover relocation costs.

Keep an eye ‘on’:

Men struggling to maintain work-life balance: The health of working men is currently declining faster than that of women, in part because, for the first time, they report more work-life conflict than women. In response, one expert urges employers to offer more flexible hours and telecommuting options, allowing both men and women to juggle their job and home responsibilities.

Helpful advice ‘on’:

How to launch a brand new brand (On Small Business)

How to identify a dishonest business partner (Inc.)

How to protect your customers’ privacy (Entrepreneur)

How to increase your site’s backlinks (Mikayla Martinsen)

How to market your firm with QR codes (Open Forum)

How to make vital business connections (Network Solutions)