Andy Roe, SurePayrollStartups were one of the beneficiaries of a strong year for small businesses in 2015, according to our SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard survey.

Responding to the survey, in which only three percent of small businesses said they had a bad year, those just getting their businesses started said they were extremely encouraged and looking forward to 2016.
In the last few years, it’s been a slow growth environment for small businesses, and the economy in general. However, as startups and small businesses look back on 2015, there are signs that growth is picking up.

According to our survey, 45 percent are looking at increasing their revenues and customer base as a top priority, rather than focusing only on profit. The majority of small businesses expect a certain percentage of growth on a yearly basis.

A Good Time to Start a Business?

From 2012 to 2014, business owners had been telling us they were seeing incremental improvement, but most were not looking to expand. As 2015 went along, the focus turned more to finding qualified people to hire rather than cutting costs.

It’s good news for startups, as it suggests there may now be enough demand in the economy to propel them forward, particularly for those in the tech space.

Optimism about the economy was also up steadily throughout the year when compared to 2014. At one point in May 2015, 84 percent of small business owners said they were optimistic. In May 2014, that number was only 67 percent.

Other Mile Markers

There were several signposts along the way this year that suggested startups and small businesses were on track.

At the beginning of the year, we began to hear that business owners were taking an aggressive posture on hiring.

During the summer, a third of entrepreneurs were telling us their stress levels were down because of an improving economy.

And, despite the many demands on their time, the employees they’re responsible for, and the financial investments they’ve made, 92 percent said they are happy with their position as business owners.

Concerns and Initiatives

Running a business, of course, does not come without challenges and some worry about the future. Taxes and government regulation were at the top of the list of concerns for small business owners. They continue to be focused on making sure they’re in compliance when it comes to things like payroll taxes and how many sick/vacation days to give.

Small business owners also want to make sure they’re creating workplaces where their employees can thrive and be satisfied with their careers—61 percent described their company culture as friendly and collaborative; 49 percent said they had a family-like relationship with employees.

Those people brave enough to start and run their own businesses know it’s not easy, but in 2015 they showed us they could juggle it all in impressive fashion. They appear set to do even more in the year ahead.

Andy Roe is the General Manager of SurePayroll, Inc., a Paychex Company. SurePayroll is the trusted provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide. SurePayroll compiles data from small businesses nationwide through its Small Business Scorecard optimism survey, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation’s ‘micro businesses’—those with one-to-10 employees. You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndrewSRoe.