Only 3% of small business owners said they had a bad year in 2015, according to the November SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard survey.
Most had at least a good year, and slightly more than one in 10 had the best year in their company's history.
While it doesn't appear to be a boom period, business owners are expecting steady growth from year to year. They're finding success by hiring and retaining skilled employees, even as they face stiff competition and ever-changing regulations.
"I consider my first year of business to have gone better than what I expected," said one entrepreneur responding to the survey. "I am very enthusiastic about next year and the years to come."
Another business owner said, "Demand grew faster than we could keep up with. People management was the key factor in overcoming the day to day challenges."
Speaking of those challenges, there were of course various obstacles to negotiate in 2015 depending on the industry:
Construction: "Getting jobs without having to bid them below cost. Profit margins are still extremely low or non-existent in today's market."
Insurance: "Laws restricting agents including the restricted time period that people can get insurance. Cannot run a business on 3 months a year."
Medical: "The entire industry has taken a hit and continues to be under pressure when patients don't have income to afford care and insurance companies cut back on benefits."
Meanwhile, those in information technology saw strong demand, while others struggled to navigate falling commodity prices. And while owners with strong staffs cited it as an advantage, others struggled to acquire quality talent.
For more on the full picture of how small businesses saw 2015, check out our Small Business Scorecard infographic: