Primary Challenge Faced By Small Business Owners, 2013-2014 [TABLE]

Small business-owners (SBOs) are entering 2015 in good spirits. According to Q4 2014 data from Gallup and Wells Fargo, 31% of US SBOs thought the operating environment for their business next year would be better than 2014, compared with 23% a year ago. Just 15% thought it would be worse.

Of course, SBOs acknowledged that they would still face challenges, some which had shifted in importance over the past few quarters. Respondents ranked attracting customers, targeting business opportunities, and finding work and new business as the most important challenge, cited by 14%. Interestingly, despite their positive outlook, the economy was the second-biggest hurdle, rising by 2 percentage points to 13% of respondents. Fully 9% called out government regulations, and 8% pointed to hiring qualified staff and retaining them.

Interestingly, a huge change was seen in the percentage of respondents who viewed financial stability and cash flow as a challenge. In Q4 2014, a tiny 3% of SBOs said this was their most important business hurdle; this number came in at 11% just one quarter before that. Finishing the year feeling positive about results is likely a key reason for SBOs’ rosy outlook for 2015: 71% of respondents expected their financial situation to be very or somewhat good over the next 12 months. Read the rest at eMarketer.