As 2014 marches on, small business owners are taking note of the improvements seen in the current market. New surveys have found that while stress is down among small business operators, hiring is expected to rise.

Confidence grows throughout small businesses
According to the most recent American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, more business owners are seeing increased levels of confidence and strength in the current market. Stress about cash flow and revenue have fallen to levels not seen since before the recession. Only 49 percent of owners are worried about this prospect, which matches a low from fall 2007 and is down 17 percent from the high seen in spring 2011.

Reports of being directly "stressed out" by the prospects of the economic climate have also fallen double digits since spring 2011, with only 56 percent of businesses reporting such concerns. Another 72 percent are strong in their ability to access necessary capital to expand their businesses, which is the highest figure recorded since that question was first asked back in 2002.

What's more, small business owner optimism is on the rise, with more than half of all operators thinking positively about their current business prospects. More than 70 percent want to grow their businesses in the next six months, while 55 percent plan to make new capital investments in the near future.

Spurs hiring efforts
With this confidence is coming a new level of hiring activity. The Wall Street Journal/Vistage International Small Business CEO survey saw 61 percent of more than 700 small businesses planning to add employees to their staffs this year in April, which was up 2 percent from March.

This year has seen a number of promising results for hiring prospects, as 55 percent of business owners wanted to add at least one full-time worker in the next six months. That's the second highest report in the past two years, only topped by January's 62 percent.

The biggest challenges different businesses have faced when considering the prospects of hiring include finding qualified workers, competing with larger companies for talent and knowing the best areas of their companies to expand to maximize their investments.

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