Competition from big business has replaced "uncertainty" about the future as the chief concern among small business owners nationally, according to the ninth annual U.S. Bank Small Business Survey.

The survey, early in the 10th consecutive year of economic recovery since the Great Recession, found that increasing numbers of small business owners are confident and investing in their shops and services.

"Businesses loathe uncertainty so their confidence in the future is a positive sign," said Ross Carey, head of business banking at U.S. Bank.

Small businesses generally struggled with sales and then credit for expansion when business rebounded during the early years of the recovery.

The sector got its mojo back by 2012-2013, followed by a slow increase in expansion capital and hiring that has greatly accelerated in recent years.

Nearly 70 percent of the 2,700 owners surveyed described themselves as optimistic about the future of their own company. Fifty-seven percent expect their revenue to increase in 2018; 55 percent expect growth in profits.

Minnesota small business owners are more optimistic about the local and national economic outlook than their nationwide peers.

Sixty-one percent are positive about the local economy and 56 percent about the national economy.

"The small business economy in the Twin Cities is doing great, and most industries are surging, including manufacturing, construction and services," said Craig Veurink, USB regional manager in Minnesota. "We are seeing more expansion and equipment purchases coming from business owners who already have felt the tax change or are anticipating it, especially at the smaller firms."

Nearly half of Minnesota small businesses are positive about the recent federal income tax cuts on their business. That's about 10 percentage points higher than the national average. Only 16 percent of Minnesota respondents said the tax overhaul will prove negative for their business.

The survey's authors correlated that response to the fact that taxes are a bigger deal for Minnesota businesses. They generally pay a higher-than-average corporate rate, as well as a higher rate on the majority of businesses personally owned and taxes at the owners' personal rate. Indeed, Minnesota business owners cited taxes as their top concern, with 21 percent of respondents ranking it No. 1 among a list of 16 choices. That compares with 11 percent nationally who ranked taxes No. 1.

Among Minnesota respondents, 10 percent listed big-company competition as their chief concern.

Market research firm LRW conducted the online survey of 2,700 small business owners with revenue of up to $10 million in 25 states during January and February.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144