Small business owners say things are looking up, according to the latest Citibank Small Business Pulse survey.
This year's query of 750 respondents revealed only 14 percent feel business conditions are poor--the lowest level since the survey launched in 2010. Nearly half of the small businesses (48 percent) say conditions are good or excellent, up 24 percent since 2010. Fifty-four percent say they expect 2014 to be even better.
A possible cause for the shift might be that fewer owners are having to bootstrap, or finance their venture out of pocket.
While fewer business owners fund their ventures with personal savings--37 percent compared to 62 percent in 2012--about a third mix the two together. Nearly 14 percent of all business owners say they use personal credit account for their business, the survey found.
But the past year has also been kinder to small business owners in general. The percentage of owners taking less profit to support their business fell from 78 percent to 64 percent, while that of owners who took on more responsibility--often because they couldn't afford to hire staff--similarly dropped from 67 percent to 54 percent.
"As conditions improve, many small businesses are planning to add staff despite some still reporting a ‘skills gap’ in the U.S.," said Jerome Byers, head of Citibank Small Business, in reference to the 16 percent of small business owners who claim they cannot find quality help.
"Plans for physical expansion are in the works too, including the possibility of small businesses crossing international borders--and well they should. With global services and resources to support them, no business is too small to consider international options to find suppliers or customers."
In fact, 13 percent said they plan to add more locations, while a quarter would consider expanding to markets abroad.