In general, small business owners in the U.S. tend to be a fairly optimistic about their future chances for success even in the darkest of times. That trend is certainly continuing to this point in the new year as well, because despite economic concerns that may still surround them, most believe their companies are going to continue to grow in the coming year and beyond.

Indeed, 16 percent of more than 1,100 entrepreneurs said that they believe the economy is in "significantly better" shape than it was a year ago, and 28 percent believe it's at least slightly better, according to the latest State of Small Business Report from Wasp Barcode Technologies. Another 30 percent say they've seen no change. And to that end, 37 percent of small businesses say they expect revenues to increase by at least 5 percent over the course of 2016, more or less unchanged from the 38 percent who felt the same way last year.

However, another 32 percent of respondents said they think they there will be growth of between 1 percent and 4 percent in this new year, the report said. Only 7 percent of those polled said that they expect a decline of any kind. The remaining 17 percent believe their revenues will hold steady.

Small business owners are feeling good about their chances for success this year.Small business owners are feeling good about their chances for success this year.

What can be done?
When it comes to what they think they can do to improve their standing in terms of revenue growth, 43 percent say they're going to try to improve their efforts to retain customers and keep them happy, the report said. Another 28 percent will actually invest money in these efforts, particularly when it comes to attracting new customers.

Meanwhile, more than 1 in 4 small business owners polled said that they will invest money in training or other options that can increase the productivity of their workers, while 30 percent plan to expand into new markets, the report said. A similar number – 29 percent – will hire new employees as well, and slightly fewer than 1 in 3 will develop new products and services.

Hiring plans getting clearer
Many owners will often say they have vague plans to hire, but in this case half of respondents said that doing so will be their top challenge in the new year, ahead of increasing profits (45 percent) and figuring out health care options (43 percent), the report said. Interestingly, though, 35 percent of those planning to hire said they will bring aboard between three and five more employees in the coming year, while 26 percent will hire between six and 10. Another 21 percent will hire one or two, and 16 percent will hire 11-plus.

Altogether, half of all companies polled said they had plans to hire at least one worker in 2016, the report said. That number was up 12 percent from a year earlier.

Any small business owner who is concerned about his or her company's ability to bring new workers into the fold when necessary may want to think about the benefits that come with creating a reasonable financial plan. Doing so, especially with the help of professionals at a local community bank, could go a long way toward helping to ensure that any future decisions are made with the full knowledge of how it might affect the entire firm's bottom line. That, in turn, can give owners greater confidence in their ability to make the best possible moves for their companies' futures as they move forward in 2016 and beyond.