SMBs hit explosive growth, but small business owners face flood of concerns

While optimism has increased, challenges still persist in small business' ability to hire, according to Capital One's Small Business Growth Index.

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Small business optimism has reached a post-recession high, especially among male business owners, according to Capital One's most recent Small Business Growth Index. The biannual report surveyed 500 small business owners (SBOs) about their feelings regarding the current economy, business world, and growth plans, said the Monday press release.

Some 67% of SBOs think overall business conditions are good or excellent, which is up 60% from last year, said the release. Women have historically been more optimistic than men, but this survey revealed a flip in that trend, as 64% of women agreed that business conditions are good or excellent, added the release.

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The main factors driving the optimism were business growth (65%), national economic conditions (54%), and improved business operations (51%), said the release. However, SBOs' new optimism was also accompanied by new concerns.

"We've seen small business optimism continue to rise as business owners benefit from a strong economy," said Jenn Flynn, head of small business bank at Capital One, in the release. "At the same time, small business owners still have concerns about taxes, tariffs and other areas of economic policy. As business leaders balance opportunity with risk, we remain committed to offering solutions designed to empower small businesses and fuel growth."

Nearly one half (49%) of SBOs cited the cost of healthcare as a top policy concern, along with tax policies (43%), and economic growth (36%), said the release. Additionally, 33% of SBOs are worried that new tariffs could negatively impact business.

The optimism is inspiring more businesses to hire, but reservations persist in that realm as well, added the release. While 33% of SBOs plan on hiring within the next six months, 38% said competition from bigger business presents the largest obstacle, according to the release. Financial resources (30%), the skills gap (34%), and a tight labor market (28%) were also top concerns in SBO's ability to hire the right talent.

The Small Business Growth Index tells us that business owners are tackling challenges like hiring and retention with fewer resources than larger companies," said Brad Jiulianti, head of small business card at Capital One, in the release. "Despite these challenges, we are encouraged by the continued optimism among business owners, especially given the major role they play in our nation's economy."

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Small business owners' (SBOs) optimism is up 60% from last year, driven by business growth (65%), national economic conditions (54%), and improved business operations (51%). -- Small Business Growth Index, 2018
  • 38% of SBOs are concerned with their ability to hire while competing against big businesses that can offer more to candidates. -- Small Business Growth Index, 2018

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