If we look back a year ago, small business owners were telling us that revenues had beat expectations and profits were up. Nearly 80% were optimistic about the economy going into 2015. Oil prices had dropped severely and about a quarter of small businesses said that would give them a boost.

Where did we wind up a year later?

Shop owner standing next to his shop

Oil prices are still low; 38% of small businesses had a good or great year; and another 12% had their best year ever. This according to the November SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard survey.

You can read more about how small businesses fared in our infographic below, and see how entrepreneurs are not just profiting, but expecting to grow year in and year out.

Small business scorecard - November 2015 - SurePayroll infographic

Milestones in 2015

There have been a number of positive milestones along the way to what seems to have been a successful year for most small businesses and startups. Here are several worth mentioning statistics:

  • In February, small business owners told us they were getting aggressive on hiring. As the year comes to a close, they’re telling us that a strong team was the most crucial factor in their success.
  • From March to May, we saw their optimism about the economy reach new highs – 84% were optimistic in May.
  • In June, 1 in 3 small business owners told us their stress levels were down because of an improving economy.

What Else We Learned

We gathered more insights about the entrepreneurial community throughout the year – some interesting facts that we’ve found:

  • 75% were willing to go the extra mile and help their employees with personal matters.
  • 61% described their company culture as collaborative, open and friendly.
  • 48% said they were unable to take a daily lunch break because of the demands of running a business

Despite the constant burden of being responsible for your own business, an overwhelming 92% were happy with the balance of responsibility and freedom.

Where We’re Going From Here

Some challenges ahead are impacting the sentiment among small business owners, yet there are plenty of upsides to make up the downsides – if you know how to execute your plan properly:

  • Optimism tapered off as the year went on, however it remains 3% higher than it was a year ago at this time.
  • Tax increases and government regulations continue to weigh on small business owners’ minds.
  • Small businesses also seem to mirror some of the larger economic trends. Those in technology are seeing increasing demand, while industries such as construction and insurance have faced more headwinds.
  • Their ability to hire good people will likely be a key factor in how they’re able to navigate the various obstacles and opportunities that present themselves in 2016.