05/17/2012 03:39 pm ET

Small Businesses Carrying Less Debt, More Optimistic

The number of small businesses carrying debt is declining, while optimism about obtaining credit and the economy in general is improving, according to a recent Gallup poll.

The survey of more than 600 business owners found that nearly one in three who have borrowed in the past now have less debt, while general optimism hit a four-year high.

But it's not all good news. One-third of business owners said they feel burdened by their debt and 49 percent said it is difficult to pay down their debt. By contrast, 62 percent of those polled are very or somewhat comfortable with their amount of business debt.

Of the 76 percent of small-business owners that have ever carried debt, 32 percent said they have less debt today than they did a year ago, with only 20 percent having more and 47 percent having about the same amount.

The survey also found that only 20 percent of those surveyed said they had had trouble obtaining credit in the past, however those who struggled with credit said it had a negative impact on their business.