Small business surveys are some of the most illuminating pieces of information on the market, giving current business leaders up-to-date information about how their peers are working to improve their practices. The latest information from these sectors shows a new support of technology and increasing optimism in the overall market.

Technology valued over new employees
The fifth annual Brother Small Business Survey asked small business leaders about a variety of topics, but their belief in technology's power to improve their companies is the most notable. As many as 72 percent of small business owners found investment in new technology would offer them a bigger return on investment than new employees might this year.

That being said, many owners are still struggling with tech innovations. More than 60 percent of respondents said they frequently felt overwhelmed when trying to keep up with tech innovations, only a 3 percent drop from last year.

Of the devices most likely to help a business, mobile ones were the most popular. About 41 percent of owners found their use necessary, beating out customer relationship management tools, social network technology like Facebook or Twitter and cloud services to be the most vital source.

As far as future investments are concerned, there's an even split among owners regarding the areas of biggest risk. Some believed that investing in tech can lead to insufficient return on investment. Others said that not investing would give their opponents in a specific industry the upper hand. 

Optimism on the rise
SurePayroll added that these divisions aren't taking away from faith in the overall market. As many as 87 percent of small businesses expected the first quarter to remain successful, while optimism about the economy stood at nearly 70 percent. This is despite hiring and paycheck totals averaging slightly down in that time.

The monthly glance at hiring trends noted that there are some concerns about health care and hiring growth in the market, but customers are expecting better results in 2014. Hiring in the South and West saw increases, while the Midwest and Northeast experienced slight downturns. Paychecks dropped in size by about 0.3 percent in the early goings of 2014.

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.