Small business owners appear more confident in their performance for the coming year, according to a report released this week by consulting firm The Alternative Board. Specifically, 71 percent of respondents expect an increase in profits of up to 10 percent in 2012. Small businesses also reported overall conditions were improved in 2011 over the previous year, offering further evidence of a slow but steady economic recovery. However, a number of challenges remain. The study outlined the top three obstacles small businesses expect to face this year. They include: weak demand, government regulations and compliance and capital availability. Thomson Reuters and PayNet reported earlier this month that small business lending surged in November to reach the highest level in nearly four years. Accordingly, banks may begin to relax their credit decisions
in light of improved confidence and profit expectations. "Small business owners face many difficult decisions during these turbulent economic times, and they're seeing the value in discussing these challenges with other CEOs who have been through this before," said Jason Zickerman, president and CEO of The Alternative Board.