Small-Business Optimism Rises, Boding Well for 2014

The December survey found 70 percent of small-business owners feel optimistic about the future, compared to only 55 percent in December of 2012.

There has been a significant rise in small-business optimism from a year ago, an indication small businesses are in for a better year in 2014, according to the results of the December 2013 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard.

SurePayroll's Scorecard compiles data from small businesses nationwide, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation's "micro businesses," those with 1-10 employees. The average business reflected has six employees.

The December Scorecard optimism survey found 70 percent of small business owners are feeling optimistic about the future, compared to only 55 percent in December of 2012.

"We saw a year of recovery in 2013. Seeing that optimism is higher going into 2014 gives us reason to believe small business owners are confident about the future, which typically results in increased hiring and growth," SurePayroll CEO and president Michael Alter said in a statement. "Another sign of a stronger 2014 is the fourth quarter decline we've seen in 1099s."

The Scorecard results saw the number of 1099s or independent contractors hired by small businesses slide during the fourth quarter, with only one in four saying they will hire more contractors in 2014 than they did in 2013.

"The slowdown in the use of independent contractors suggests small business owners may look to invest more in full-time hires in the year ahead," Alter said. "More full-time hires means more stability and more dollars available to spend on Main Street, hopefully propelling our economy forward."

On the hiring front, month over month, hiring was down 0.1 percent and paychecks were down 0.2 percent in December. In the Northeast, hiring was down 4.0 percent and paychecks were down 2 percent, while the West showed a hiring decline of 1.5 percent, with paychecks down 1.3 percent.

Hiring in the Midwest is down 3.2 percent and paychecks are positive, up 0.7 percent, and the South was the only region where hiring is up for the year at 0.7 percent and paychecks there are up 0.9 percent.

Sales at small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are trending higher, with 58 percent reporting higher revenues over the past 12 months, according to a Deloitte-sponsored survey of 503 executives at midsize companies in the United States during September and October.

As the performance of midmarket companies continues to improve—with a majority of executives (58 percent) anticipating revenue growth over the coming 12 months—staffing up for growth is one of the key priorities.