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What are small business owners’ expectations, hopes and challenges for 2015? Good news: According to Rocket Lawyer's Semi-Annual Small Business Index, which surveys some 500 U.S. business owners, entrepreneurs are feeling better today than they have in a very long time.

A whopping 80 percent of entrepreneurs in the survey believe their companies will experience growth this year. Perhaps that’s not surprising, given that 61 percent say their businesses grew dramatically last year!

With renewed confidence in their futures, small business owners are getting ready to invest in their companies in various ways, including:

Hiring Is on the Rise

Overall, small business hiring plans are up 27 percent compared to the same time last year. However, more than half (54 percent) of entrepreneurs in the survey are planning to focus on hiring independent contractors. By comparison, 44 percent plan to hire part-time workers and 40 percent expect to hire full-time employees.

Boosting Their Online Presence 

Small business owners in the survey are recognizing the importance of having a strong online presence for their business and brand. In fact, more than one-third (35 percent) say improving their online presence is their number-one concern for 2015. To help with this, they’re hiring marketing employees (27 percent). Expecting that improved marketing will drive leads, 37 percent also plan to hire for sales positions.

Going Mobile

Developments in mobile payments technology such as Apple Pay have small businesses very interested. In fact, 60 percent of small business owners in the survey say they would consider offering mobile payment options in 2015. The primary reason for doing so (cited by 68 percent) is to offer customers a simple, seamless payment experience, but 51 percent also say they believe mobile payments offer new opportunities for their businesses to surpass competitors. I wasn’t surprised to see that Millennials are the most likely to be excited about mobile payments’ future—71 percent say they’re likely to consider adopting mobile payments this year.

Challenges

It’s not all smooth sailing for small business owners, however. New legislation such as minimum wage increases in many states, as well as continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, have 27 percent of entrepreneurs in the survey worried that they either don’t understand, or will fail to comply with, government regulations.

On the legal side of things, the biggest problem small business owners reported in 2014 was difficulty with contract negotiations. More than one-fourth (27 percent) say that this is a challenge, and as more small businesses hire independent contractors, creating solid contracts with those workers will undoubtedly going to continue to grow in importance.

The good news is that whether you’re struggling with challenges, getting ready to grab opportunities or both, there’s one place you can get help making plans for the future. Your SCORE mentor can help you understand legal issues and contracts, figure out your best options for hiring and plan for a more successful marketing strategy in 2015. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor today.