Small Business Owners Felt More Optimistic in April

Thanks to a number of stops and starts, many small business owners might be feeling somewhat uncertain about their chances for success in their industries, but through the end of April, they largely felt more optimistic.

Though there was a decline in good feeling about the future among small business owners in the month of March, there was a slight increase to counteract it in April, according to the latest monthly Index of Small Business Optimism from the National Federation of Independent Business. In all, the index rose to a rating of 92.1, up from 89.5 the month prior. That's also an increase from the average score of 90.7 seen since the economic recovery began.

In all, only two aspects of the index saw declines in April, with plans to make capital outlays and expected credit conditions over the next six months both down two percentage points from the month before, the report said. On the other hand, four other aspects saw increases, and four more held steady at their current levels. For instance, 6 percent of businesses polled said they planned to increase employment over the next half-year, up from none last month, and in April alone, the average small business added 0.14 workers nationwide. However, nearly half of those polled also said that they had tried to hire in the last three months, but 38 percent reported that they had difficulties finding qualified applicants for those positions. Some had none at all.

"Small business confidence saw an uptick this last month, but it was a ho hum, yawn, at-least-it-didn't-go-down reading," said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. "The sub-par recovery persists for the small business sector. Economic performance is contradictory – corporate profits are at record levels and the stock market hits new highs, yet GDP growth for the past six months has averaged about 1.5 percent and the unemployment rate is 7.5 percent."

Small business owners generally have to deal with far more than just uncertainty in the marketplace when it comes to their ability and efforts to expand. They may also have to take into account the sometimes large and growing cost of small business insurance policies that are necessary to maintain their companies in general. These can include workers' compensation and liability insurance, among others, that are likely to increase significantly as they make efforts to expand.