Small Business Owners Feeling Much Better About Conditions

The improving economy has been a boon to many people and companies alike nationwide in the past few years, and this could be especially true of small businesses in particular. Owner sentiment about the state of their enterprises is now at the highest point observed in the last three years.

Today, nearly half of all independent company owners across the country say that they believe business conditions are either good or excellent, according to the latest Citibank Small Business Pulse poll. That's up slightly from the 43 percent observed in the same month last year, but double that of 2010, when the number of those with positive sentiment stood at just 24 percent.

This, in turn, has led to a stronger outlook among about half of owners where sales for the remainder of the year are concerned, the report said. In fact, about one-third say they expect to see sales spike of more than 10 percent in the remainder of 2013, and more than half say these could take additional steps forward next year.

"The rise in those that have a favorable view of current business conditions is unmistakable," said Jerome Byers, head of Citibank Small Business. "While about half still fault sales for preventing them from achieving business goals, just as many business owners project improved sales this year and next. In recent years, as conditions have improved and small businesses have looked to grow, we have sought to be there for them – our small business lending has grown annually, from $4.5 billion in 2009 to $9.6 billion last year."

However, only slightly more than a quarter of owners say they plan to hire any full-time workers in the next 12 months, though it's important to note that only 15 percent said they would do so at the same time last year, the report said. The good news for current workers is that just 5 percent of small business owners plan to cut the size of their payrolls.

Many small business owners who are looking to expand payroll may want to keep in mind that doing so could increase the size of their small business insurance policies. For instance, they might face higher annual costs for workers' compensation or general liability insurance, and therefore might want to consider the ways in which they could keep those costs at least somewhat depressed even as they bring on more workers.