Get Started: Small business optimism, revenue, hiring up

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG Markets Associated Press

RISING OPTIMISM

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Small business owners are more upbeat about where their companies and the economy are headed.

That's one of the findings of a survey released Monday by the advocacy group National Small Business Association and ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace. Nearly 60 percent of the 1,633 owners the survey questioned in December and January anticipate that the economy will grow in the next 12 months. That compares to 45 percent in a survey taken in July by the NSBA.

Their optimism is likely fed by a good performance for their companies. Fifty-three percent said their revenue rose over the last 12 months, the first time in a decade that a majority of owners surveyed by the NSBA reported increases. Two-thirds expect their revenue to grow in the coming 12 months.

Hiring also increased notably — 30 percent of owners reported they had added jobs in the past 12 months, compared with 22 percent who reported job gains in the previous survey. The NSBA noted that less than a third of small companies reported that they'd hired in the past year; that's consistent with findings of surveys by banks and other groups that have shown owners are hiring conservatively.

Hiring plans were little changed, also in line with the findings of other surveys. Thirty-eight percent of owners expect job gains in the coming year versus 37 percent who had that expectation in July.

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One reason why some companies may not be hiring — they're turning to automation to get work like accounting and scheduling done. Nearly a third said they anticipate using automation in the coming year, and 9 percent of those companies said they'd need fewer employees to get their work done.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND RESTAURANTS

While using social media is an increasingly important marketing tool for small businesses, it's particularly so for restaurants. Owners can get tips about using social media during an online seminar sponsored by SCORE, the organization that gives free counseling to small businesses. It will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can learn more and register at http://bit.ly/2BlrTNp .

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com/search/joyce%20rosenberg