A majority of Americans may be down on the economy, but 75% of small business owners feel that they will meet or beat their goals by the end of this year, according to a recent survey by Ink from Chase, the business card portfolio from Chase Card Services.

"What surprised us this year was the degree of a real turn-around, a real sea change in the way that small business owners are thinking about their future prospects," Ink President Richard Quigley told WalletPop in an interview. "We also asked about going forward, 'what are you thinking about the economy and your business in the next 3-6 months?' 76% said that they feel it's going to be better going forward. So there is a resurgent optimism."

That optimism will likely translate into more jobs as 72% surveyed said they are adding or plan to add more employees, up from 49% last year. In fact, 35% said they spent this past year expanding aggressively, while 40% claimed growth on a more modest scale.

So be prepared, said Quigley, to be tenacious, scrappy and confident, all attributes that small business owners possess and prize in their employees.

In the midst of all this good news, small businesses still face challenges. While the credit crunch may have hurt some small business owners, the greatest obstacle to growth has been consumer confidence.

"The big issue for small businesses is that consumer spending engine starting again," Quigley said he discovered while crisscrossing the country speaking with small business owners. "What JPMorgan Chase has done is, this year, we made a commitment to extend $10 billion in new credit for small businesses across the country and we're on track to do that. .... as the consumers start spending again, that will be what helps small businesses take off."

Opinions were solicited from Inc.'s 500/5000 list of the fastest-growing U.S. companies with revenues of $10 million or less. The survey, which was fielded in early to mid September, was based on 293 total responses.

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