A new report has found small business owners are expressing reserved optimism in the U.S. economy. The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism Index showed growth for the third month in a row in January, ticking upward to 94.1 from 93.9 in December.
The increase in optimism reflects the improving economy, although according to NFIB officials, the index is still below the average pre-recession level of 100. The report referred to the state of the index as “still just treading water.”
According to the lobbying group’s survey, 15 percent of business owners expect sales to increase, up 7 percent from the month before. Around 12 percent of respondents said they plan to increase employment over the next several months, a 4 percent gain from December.
The news was not all positive, however. The study found just 8 percent of respondents said now was a good time to expand, down 2 points from the month prior. When asked about their greatest small business problems in January, 24 percent of respondents cited taxes, while 22 percent attributed their problems to government regulations and red tape and 14 percent said poor sales hindered operations the most.
Still, the report showed overall optimism for the economy – NFIB respondents increased employment by an average of 0.12 employees per company in January.
As companies take on new employees, they may find themselves in need of improved business tools, which can be made difficult by tight budgets and tighter lending standards. One way to improve business without spending a lot upfront is to explore equipment leasing options. Equipment leasing gives business owners the flexibility to pay for powerful business tools and technology over time, allowing them the financial room to expand operations without straining overhead costs.