The new year is officially here, and now that the ball has dropped and celebrations are complete, it's time for businesses to resume their daily activities. To start off 2014, predictions for the coming year from many small business owners are somewhat positive, according to recent survey results, but owners see plenty of uncertainty expected as well.

A recent poll from Gallup found that small business owners in the United States have toned down their expectations for the next year slightly, though there's still plenty of positive buzz resonating. The poll reports that compared to 2013, 28 percent of small business owners have reduced levels of optimism about their businesses' futures over the next 12 months, while 23 percent said they were more optimistic.

When it comes to potential challenges, small business owners said they were concerned largely with both internal factors and external forces they couldn't control. These most largely include the direction of the economy, any potential health care costs, taxes and government regulation, while other business-related issues included the usual – attracting new customers, keeping costs low and hiring adequate staffers, for instance.

Additional survey more positive
However, another survey of the upcoming market was much more positive, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper's most recent survey of small business confidence rose sharply in December, hitting 108.4, well above the 100-level cutoff that notes positive confidence.

Of nearly 1,000 small business owners surveyed in December, more than half had believed the economy saw improvement in 2013, a rise of 16 percent from one year prior, while another 38 percent believed conditions would rise even more in 2014. Those numbers went up 11 percent from 2013 expectations.

In addition, the WSJ saw 75 percent of businesses expecting better sales in the upcoming year. Further showing this strength, owners ranked the ever-present issue of taxes and red tape above the potential for weak sales as their biggest headache for the first time since the beginning of the financial crisis in mid-2008. A better bottom line will likely also increase the potential for capital access for many business owners.

Equipment and business industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.