Small business owners haven’t felt this optimistic since before the Great Recession of 2008.
According to Capital One’s latest Small Business Growth Index, 67% of small business owners think business conditions in their area are good or excellent, up from 60% last year.
“We’ve seen small business optimism continue to rise as business owners benefit from a strong economy,” says Jenn Flynn, head of small business banking at Capital One.
The main factors driving that optimism were business growth (65%), national economic conditions (54%), and improved business operations (51%).
More businesses plan to hire, but challenges remain
The biannual survey of 500 small business owners also found that one third plan to hire in the next six months. That’s up from 25% one year ago.
“Over 70% of new jobs in our economy come from small businesses,” says Flynn, “so hiring is a big deal.”
Still, 38% of small business owners say competition from larger employers, offering compensation packages with robust benefits packages and other perks, makes it challenging to acquire top talent. Thirty-four percent cited the skills gap as a top factor impacting their ability to hire.
Health care, taxes and tariffs a concern
At the same time, the survey found 49% of small business owners cite health care as their top policy concern — 43% are concerned about tax policies, while 33% are worried that new tariffs could negatively impact their business.
The GOP tax cuts may have been a windfall for many large corporations, but that isn’t necessarily the case for most small business owners. The survey found 52% of small business owners feel they will pay about the same in taxes, up from 41% this past spring.
“While there’s not a lot of data that shows small business owners’ tax burden will change this year,” Flynn says, “59% believe that the change in presidential leadership has been positive for small business growth.”
Alexis Christoforous is host of the Yahoo Finance morning show, Market Movers. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.