Small business borrowing in the United States rose again in January, according to the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, which measures the overall volume of financing disbursed to the nation's small enterprises.

As Reuters reports, the reading of 100.8 represented an 18 percent year-over-year increase and marked the 18th consecutive double-digit rise – a positive indicator that recent stronger economic data may be more than just a flash in the pan.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, January's index slipped from the four-year high reached in December, partially as a result of entrepreneurs eager to cross getting commercial loans off their end-of-year to-do lists.

PayNet founder Bill Phelan likened the findings to "a lukewarm cup of coffee – it's not bad but it's not great. We're all looking for really strong growth, and I'm not sure when we are going to get it."

That said, growth is on the right track to continue over the next few months, if not longer, with employment and manufacturing data, GDP growth and general economic conditions all looking favorable.

Separate PayNet data revealed that entrepreneurs are getting better at paying back their debts, with accounts 90 days or more behind in payment falling to a record low of 0.37 percent in January – a 0.01 decrease from December. Similarly, accounts behind by at least 180 days or in default and unlikely to ever be paid dropped from December's rate of 0.54 percent to 0.51 percent in January.

The sixth annual Staples National Small Business Survey, released in January, revealed overarching optimism in the sector, with seven out of 10 small enterprise owners reporting that they felt optimistic about the future.

The National Small Business Association's 2011 Year-End Economic Report echoed the findings. Specifically, three-quarters of polled SBOs said they felt confident about their company's future and nearly half (46 percent) reported positive growth over the previous six months, the highest percentage in more than three years. What's more, the number of those reporting decreases in revenue fell from 37 percent to 31 percent.

Despite positive economic indicators, some entrepreneurs are still struggling to get loan requests approved. Approaching a community bank like My Bank can improve your chances and also provides a good opportunity for you to get some financial tips on how to grow your company.