Small-business confidence ticks up slightly

More small businesses said in October that they expect the economy to improve in the next six months, but a net 16 percent of businesses remain pessimistic about future economic conditions.

And good news on the job front remains difficult to come by, as the index found that small businesses were slightly less likely to hire in October. Nine percent of those surveyed planned to make more hires, while 12 percent were looking to trim their workforce.

Twenty-six percent of businesses reported that poor sales were their biggest obstacle, while just 4 percent said lining up financing was their biggest challenge. The vast majority of businesses — 91 percent — reported that they either could get the credit they needed or were not looking to borrow more.

However, big spending by businesses is on the uptick, as 52 percent reported capital outlays over the last six months on things like equipment, vehicles or bigger facilities or land.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who chairs the House Small Business Committee, said NFIB's new findings showed the small-business outlook was near "historic lows."

"Businesses simply are not hiring, because they are pessimistic about consumer sales, the nation’s economic climate and the amount of regulations to comply with," he said in a statement.