Entrepreneurs are known for their exceptional optimism--and their hopes for the U.S. economy prove no exception. According to a National Small Business Association (NSBA) report out today, small business owners are increasingly confident that the national economy has improved in the past year. More surprising, however, were business owner's hopes for their own businesses.

Small business owners' confidence in the national economy is growing at a faster rate than confidence in their own businesses, the report shows.

Earlier this summer, the NSBA polled over 1,000 small business owners--including the association's members--on their economic sentiments. Surveyors found that as of July, nearly 35 percent of small business owners believed the national economy to be "better off" than it was one year ago, compared to 23 percent who felt the same way in December of last year. 

Furthermore, naysayers--or those who believed the economy was "worse off" than one year prior--had dropped by a margin of 13 percent.

By comparison, entrepreneurs demonstrated only a lukewarm increase in confidence regarding their own business prospects--on the order of three or four percentage points. Entrepreneurs appear to have more faith in their businesses in general--over 60 percent claimed to feel confident about their companies--but the baseline has not shifted much.

One possible explanation for this, according to NSBA President Todd McCracken:

"A likely cause for this discrepancy is the fact that media reports signaling massive economic failures, such as the debt ceiling and sequestration, have been fewer in recent months, and despite Congress’ continuing inability to get much done--the focus of their failures has not necessarily been economic in nature. Despite the lower prevalence of negative economic news, the fact remains that times are still very difficult for small businesses and there is growing hesitation by small businesses, even those who have a better economic outlook than six months ago, to take on the risk of growth or hiring."