If you were to ask small business owners what matters most to them, chances are, they'll tell you, "Why, my company of course!"

But hiding underneath their response is a sea of uncertainty. It's not so much about what matters most, but rather, the external forces that could compromise the fate of what matters most. After all, to their owners, businesses are their babies, and they'll stop at nothing to protect them, show them off and help them develop in their own unique ways. What are the most formidable factors small business owners believe could greatly impact their companies, for better or worse?

"How a small business deploys its digital assets can greatly determine the success of its virtual venture."

Online recognition
It used to be that establishing one's own place on the Internet was a must-have for any business, big or small. Though that's still 1,000 percent true, simply showing up on a search engine isn't enough anymore. With the Daily Mail reporting the number of websites hitting 1 billion late last year, "standing out" is quickly becoming "staying afloat." How a small business deploys its digital assets can greatly determine the success of its virtual venture.

For example, in an effort to avoid costs, many small businesses rely solely on social media. However, there are plenty of reasons why a Verisign study found 72 percent of international small businesses prefer their own registered websites as their main point of contact. Customers tend to view companies with websites as more legitimate enterprises. Small businesses with only a social media presence can appear immature. Besides, having a home base where a company can link to its social media has greater functionality than one that only has satellite representation on the Web.

The idea of growth – literally
Don't get the wrong idea about small businesses – their size is premeditated and isn't necessarily indicative of success. However, scaled and controlled growth benefits any company lucky enough to experience it. Whether more customers are buying, facilities are expanding or revenues are rocketing, measured development can make any small business feel quite tremendous.

But again, growth in and of itself takes second chair to how a small business grows. According to a press release from a recent American Express OPEN small business survey, nearly half of all business owners fear they've run out of ideas for growing their businesses. It's not that they don't have the startup capital or the customer base or the right location. They worry the creative well will run dry.

Growing the right way can intimidate small business owners, but there is a silver lining.Growing the right way can intimidate small business owners, but there is a silver lining.

Though the prospect may seem scary, this is ultimately a "good" problem to have. If business owners become so concerned about growing their companies, they call into question their own abilities to sense opportunities, it signals a kind of super awareness about their endeavor. Better than living in blissful ignorance, thinking everything's hunky-dorey when it's really about to implode. There's always room to grow, but small business owners shouldn't dwell on the metaphysics for too long. Rather, they should​ be conscious of what's going on in the present. Brilliance will come.

A no-regrets approach to business
The last topic feeds right into the next: career appreciation. Loving what you do has an immeasurable impact on job performance. Small business owners don't need studies and surveys to tell them that – but we'll give them one anyway.

A 2014 Gallup poll asked small business owners if they could turn back time and do something else, would they? More than 80 percent responded with a resounding "no." Gallup has asked this same question over the course of 11 years and the answer has pretty much stayed the same, even in the face of the Great Recession. Small business owners who remain resolute against all obstacles can weather any storm, economic or otherwise. It's amazing what a little workplace positivity can do.

Equipment and business industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.