Close readers of SmallBusiness.com may have noticed what we are noticing: the phrase “since the great recession” has recently become the go-to line of demarcation between bad and good, when it comes to most everything about small businesses.

For example, last December, Gallup informed us that the outlook for quality jobs was at its highest since before the great recession. And last month, a survey by Bank of America revealed that most small business owners say they are still recovering from the Great Recession.

Today, the first day of National Small Business Week, we’re back to the good comparison data, as the “Capital One Small Business Confidence Score” is at an all-time high (or, at least, “all-time,” since the Great Recession).

According to the quarterly survey of small business sentiment, small business owners’ sentiment is up 33 percent since 2009, “following the depth of the Great Recession.”

Still a big challenge: Attracting and retaining customers

Despite their increasing optimism, small business owners continue to face challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining customers, according to the survey. Their marketing challenges include:

  • Identifying and reaching new customer prospects (41%)
  • Finding money to market their business (32%)
  • Gaining attention due to local competition (18%)
  • Getting advice on the best marketing approaches (18%)
  • Customer retention (17%)
  • 64% of small business owners feel they’re unable to effectively market their businesses the way they’d like to
  • 70% say they would spend more toward marketing efforts, if they could afford to

We survived the great recession

As somewhat of a history nerd, I will apologize from “this” generation to those who found ways to keep their small and family businesses opened through the Great Depression. Adding the term “great” to the word recession implies that there was something about what we’ve survived since 2008 that comes close to that which occurred in the 1930s. And despite how bad it seemed at the time, compared to the Great Depression, our “great recession” was merely a glancing blow..