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

What’s going ‘on’:


Smartphone sales soared this past holiday season, but overall, consumer electronics sales were down compared to the previous year. (Sang Tan/AP)

White House calls for pay raise for federal workers: President Obama will propose a 0.5 percent pay increase for civilian employees as part of his 2013 budget, according to a White House announcement. If approved, the measure would end a two-year freeze on federal workers’ salaries, however, the plan will likely spark an election-year confrontation between Obama and Congress over government spending.

Keep an eye ‘on’:

Ultra rich paying less in taxes: American families earning less than $100,000 a year pay an average of 35 percent of their taxable income in payroll and income taxes, while those earning more than $1 million pay less than 30 percent. The trend has grown pronounced lately, according to a recent report, especially for the ultra rich who earn most of their income from investments and can exploit low rates on capital gains.

Earnings, consumer spending reports coming: Several companires kick off fourth-quarter earnings season this week, and the government will release holiday retail sales data on Thursday. Investors will be looking to see whether the latter numbers support the increasingly popular notion that consumer sentiment is recovering from recessionary levels.

Helpful advice ‘on’:

How to keep your website ahead of the curve (Open Forum)

How to stand out in the workplace (Small Business Chron)

How to create a business succession plan (Palm Beach Daily News)

How to know when to throw in the towel (San Francisco Chronicle)