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Despite setbacks in 2011, America's small business owners are setting themselves up for a comeback, a new survey suggests.
And there's more helpful news for small businesses heading into 2012: New figures show Small Business Saturday was a huge success, and the Small Business Administration is set to offer a free Web chat about year-end tax tips.
First, the survey. Researchers found 61% of small businesses faced economic hardships in 2011, while 50% failed to meet their business goals for the year.
But 2012 seems to be looking brighter, with 40% of small business owners saying they feel "optimistic" or "very optimistic" about their business prospects in the new year.
The survey's sunny results could forecast better days ahead for the nation's economic recovery. Small and mid-sized businesses employ about half of all U.S. private-sector employees, according to polling firm Zoomerang and media-services firm GrowBiz Media, which conducted the survey.
The survey also found a split when it comes to social media use by small businesses: 40% of owners plan to use social media in 2012, while 40% say they don't; 20% were not sure. This may not be too surprising, as 25% of small business owners say they don't feel confident with social media tools.
The small business survey follows reports of a fantastic showing for Small Business Saturday -- a nationwide effort to draw shoppers to mom-and-pop stores instead of mega-malls over Thanksgiving weekend.
More than 103 million Americans took part in Small Business Saturday, now in its second year, Business Wire reports. That's a 15% increase over pre-Thanksgiving projections.
Of course, increased sales could affect your taxes, as can changes in tax law that you may not be aware of. That's why the Small Business Administration is offering a free Web chat to share tips on tax deductions and credits. You can join the chat live online at http://www.sba.gov at 10 a.m. ET on Dec. 15.