businessman-upbeat.jpgThere's a real paradox out there in small-business land: American business owners have seen business shrink more drastically than have owners anywhere else in the developing world. Yet, most say they're feeling upbeat about 2010.

A study from City Business Journals Network showed 75 percent of business owners feel business prospects will be either "a lot better" or "a little better," a level not seen since before the recession.

A study done by CareerBuilder showed cautious optimism and improving metrics. Only 11 percent of owners surveyed thought they'd have trouble accessing credit this year, down from 17 percent in 2009. CareerBuilder's 2010 Job Forecast showed 20 percent of employers planning to add permanent workers this year, up from 14 percent last year.

Discover Small Business Watch showed a bit of improvement in December--the number of owners rate the current economy as "fair" rose to 35 percent from 30 percent in November. And 22 percent see conditions improving over the next six months, up from 19 percent.

The only gloomy Eeyore out there seems to be members of the National Federation of Independent Business, which reports their Small Business Optimism Index decreased three tenths of a point from November, and remains near record lows. Maybe it's their staunch opposition to healthcare reform putting them in a bad mood.

Either small business owners are sensing improvement in their business, or they're just cockeyed optimists. I'm betting it's the former.

What about you? Feeling bullish on 2010? Planning to make new hires? Drop us a comment and tell us about it.