Fifty-six percent of small-business owners feel positive about business prospects over the next six months, an increase from 48 percent last fall, according to the Spring 2012 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor.

Despite the optimism, 31 percent of respondents say maintaining their current businesses and sources of revenue are still a large concern. Another 29 percent of respondents say growing their businesses is a major worry, which is down from 37 percent last spring.

The survey also finds that 35 percent of respondents say they plan to hire full- or part-time employees, a jump from 31 percent in the fall. Forty-four percent of respondents say they anticipate freezing hiring or cutting back staff, a decline from 61 percent in the fall.

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