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

What’s going ‘on’:

U.S. trade deficit widens: Despite a solid gain in exports, the country’s trade deficit grew in March at the fastest pace in nearly a year to $51.8 billion, according to a report released Thursday by the Commerce Department. Overall, imports rose 5.2 percent on increased demand for foreign oil, cars, cell phones and clothes.

House OKs alternative to automatic Pentagon cuts: On Thursday, the House voted 218-199 to approve a measure that would replace upcoming budget cuts at the Pentagon with a series of reductions in funding for food stamps, Medicaid and regulation of the financial sector; however, Democrats in the Senate are largely opposed to the bill.

Unemployment claims dip: Claims for jobless benefits declined last week to 367,000, their lowest level in a month, according to the latest data from the Labor Department. A decline in dismissals also suggests a brighter labor market that could help sustain consumer spending after payroll growth slowed last month.

Vienna exec wins national small business award: The Small Business Council of America has awarded its 2012 Small Business Person of the Year award to Tony Jimenez, president and chief executive of technology firm MicroTech in Vienna. The award recognizes those who promote a more favorable climate for U.S. small businesses.

Keep an eye ‘on’:

Bernanke sees business borrowing getting easier:On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that many businesses and consumers are starting to find it easier to borrow, noting that large firms are selling bonds at historically low rates and that people with strong credit have access to credit card and auto loans.

Helpful advice ‘on’:

How to approach business liability insurance (Mashable)

How to better motivate your employees (Fox Business)

How execute a successful business pivot (Fast Company)

How to tear down communication barriers (Open Forum)

How to keep your marketing messages out of your customers’ spam folders (Entrepreneur)