Over the last several years, the economy in the U.S. has made it challenging for small businesses to grow. Limited sales, decreasing consumer interest and other negative factors have hampered a number of companies. However, these trends have started to reverse as of late, and that means more opportunities for certain ventures.

For small businesses, there remains plenty of room for growth despite a weaker economy and moderate economic gains. In order to capitalize on the current state of the U.S., companies will have to prepare, create a sound financial plan and look to the future. Taking these steps can be a great way to connect with new customers and increase sales.

Small business growth continues
While the economy hasn't provided fantastic expansion and surging numbers, it has been steadily improving over the past year. According to Newtek Business Services, Inc., the firm's SB Authority Index increased slightly between March and April, now at 126.91 points. That is a year-over-year uptick of 7.48 percent. This recent trend has been attributed to lending volumes and new business creation.

Barry Sloane, chairman, president and CEO of Newtek, explained that there have been weak economic figures throughout the small business economy.

"The recently released U.S. GDP showing a 1 percent decline in the first fiscal quarter is consistent with the negative sentiment that we see among business owners," he stated. "The Federal Reserve's 'zero rate interest policy' is inflating certain indicators like the Russell Microcap Index and bank lending growth, however, these economic indicators, without real innovation and confidence in the economy, will not provide ongoing stimulus."

A financial plan can help prepare
Given the light economic gains for small businesses, it may seem challenging to grow and connect with new customers. However, it is still possible – all it takes is some preparations and a strong financial plan.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, forecasting will help companies expand and adapt. The first step on this path is organization. A good structure will make this goal easier, and employees, resources and other aspects must be pooled together in order to grow as a firm.

In addition, small business owners must have solid observational skills, the SBA noted. Being able to look ahead will improve problem solving, awareness and other positive factors that could make it easier for a venture to grow. Taking the time to incorporate these traits into a financial plan can be a fantastic primary step for a small business.