Small Business Optimism at Highest Level Since Recession Ended

Millions of small business owners are now starting to enjoy the fruits of the ongoing economic recovery, and as a result, many are feeling more confident in their companies than they have in years.

On the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, confidence is now at a rating of plus-25, up nine points from the end of the second quarter, and 36 points from the end of last year, according to Wells Fargo Business Insights. The current rating is also the highest seen since the third quarter of 2008. However, while the current rates may constitute a significant improvements in the past several months and now stands at a post-recession high, it still pales in comparison with the positive feeling seen prior to the downturn. The highest-ever score came in the fourth quarter of 2006, just prior to the recession having begun in earnest, when the rating was a plus-114. Its all-time low-water mark, meanwhile, was a minus-28 in the third quarter of 2010.

"For 10 years, the Small Business Index has taken the pulse of small business owners in America," said Doug Case, Wells Fargo small business segment manager. "The survey has shown a slow and uneven recovery for small businesses, and this quarter we continue to see business owners express cautious optimism as economic trends improve, such as a strengthening housing market."

One of the biggest parts of the increased positive feeling among owners is that many feel they will have more access to credit when and if they need it in the next year, the report said. In all, 28 percent of those polled said they expected to find it access to credit to be either very or somewhat easy, up from 24 percent a quarter earlier. However, 30 percent still believe it will be difficult, which may portend some issues, though that level is down from 36 percent between April and June, and now stands at the lowest point observed in five years.

Owners feeling better about their companies may want to look for even more flexibility going forward, and might be able to find some by seeking out more affordable small business insurance policies. Finding less expensive workers' compensation or liability insurance policies can help companies find a better financial footing as the economy continues to improve and they are in a better position to grow and succeed.