Almost three-quarters of small businesses are optimistic about the UK economy, according to a new survey.
Two- thirds of ownermanagers believe their business will be better off or remain the same in the next 12 months.
Over half of ownermanagers intend to invest more and two-fifths plan to recruit extra staff next year.
Bank of Scotland Corporate's annual UK-wide small business economic confidence survey has revealed confidence among the country's owner-managers remains high despite a dip compared to last year.
Whilst 71 per cent are optimistic about the economy, net optimism has fallen by 12 per cent since March 2004.
Owner-managers are even more optimistic about their own business with almost two- thirds ( 63 per cent) believing its performance will be better in the next 12 months. Less than one in ten think their business will fare worse in the coming year.
More than half of small businesses expect to increase investment this year. Just ten per cent plan to invest less.
Despite growing optimism, owner-managers clearly feel they are having to work very hard to achieve their success.
An unprecedented number claim business life is getting tougher. Over two-thirds (67 per cent) of small firms claim it has become more difficult to run their businesses over the last five years - almost a third (31 per cent) said it had become much more difficult.
Eddie Morrison, managing director of Bank of Scotland Corporate, said: "Despite a dip in net economic confidence compared with last year, owner-managers remain confident about the future. It's particularly encouraging to see the vast majority will increase or maintain capital investment over the next year."