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

What’s going on:

Small business optimism falls: Small business owners’ confidence dropped for the second consecutive month in July, albeit a much less staggering decline (down 0.2 percentage points) than the 3-point drop in June, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Retail sales surpass expectations: U.S. retailers sold more goods than expected last month on the heels of higher consumer spending at department stores, car dealers and electronics outlets. The latest Commerce Department report shows sales increased by 0.8 percent.

Bloomberg calls for immigration debate: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged the presidential candidates to submit to one debate focused solely on immigration issues, which, handled wisely, he believes could swiftly revitalize the yet sluggish economy.

Keep an eye on:

Ryan’s reception on Main Street: The Republican vice presidential candidate is well known for his latest budget proposal, which is lined with clues as to how he would approach some of the Washington issues that directly concern small business owners and entrepreneurs. Check out our small business primer on Ryan’s policies regarding taxes, spending, lending, technology and health care.

Helpful advice on:

How to know when to start a firm (Entrepreneur)

How to gather more online followers (Upstart)

How to find your perfect business idea (SBD)

How to improve your online advertising (Forbes)

How to grow your business through analytics (SBT)