Most Small Business Owners Remain Optimistic About the Future

Hard economic realities continue to weigh on many of the nation's small business owners, but at the same time, those difficulties aren't keeping the majority of them from feeling good about their companies' future prospects.

Today, 54 percent of small business owners say that they think they will be able to succeed in the future, but nonetheless, economic uncertainty weighs heavily on them, according to the latest American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor. As a consequence, those good feelings about the future do not translate into the near term, as only half say they will increase their capital investments in the next six months. Likewise, worries about cash flow are now being reported by close to six in 10 owners, up from slightly more than half just six months ago.

Interestingly, small business owners may be able to count on those like them in their communities to keep their companies afloat even in these hard times, as 96 percent of respondents said that they want to support their communities, the survey found. Further, more than eight in 10 are devoted to shopping at similarly-sized enterprises when it comes to non-business needs.

"We should all draw inspiration from small businesses that remain steadfast optimists and loyal contributors to local communities and causes despite an economic environment that remains uncertain," said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. "Adversity is nothing new to the vast majority of entrepreneurs, and our research shows that while they have concerns about the near future, they have learned a great deal from recent trials and are better positioned to grow in the long term."

Nonetheless, expectations for small business hiring remains relatively low, as less than one-third of those polls say they plan to expand these efforts in the next six months, the report said. That's up marginally from less than three in 10 which responded similarly six months prior, but down from 35 percent a year ago. Another 35 percent say that additional hiring is not what their company needs to expand operations, and that was up significantly from about one-quarter of them both six and 12 months ago.

Many owners might also want to think about the added costs they'll face for their small business insurance needs when they expand. This could include both higher worker's compensation and general liability insurance premiums.