More than 86 percent of small-business owners are optimistic about the future, reports a small-business study conducted by Staples, parent company of distributor Staples Promotional Products (PPAI 108945), in December 2017. Drawn from a survey of 503 U.S. small-business owners—for the purpose of the study defined as those who had up to 25 full-time employees—the study found that four in five respondents identified their business as thriving or surviving in the new year, and that the most common challenges across industries include marketing tactics and tax preparation.

“At Staples, we’re a partner for small-business owners helping their world work better so they can spend more time on growing their businesses,” says Michelle Bottomley, Staples chief marketing officer. “When small business owners feel they have the necessary tools, support, and assets to thrive, they’re able to devote more time and attention to what they’re passionate about—providing their customers and clients with exceptional goods and services.”

Staples’ study highlighted several business insights, including disorganization’s role in hampering productivity. Among those who listed their businesses as thriving or surviving, 53 percent described their workplace as very organized, while only 23 percent of struggling/failing small-business owners say the same. Furthermore, one in three business owners believes that workplace disorganization leads to less productivity, while three in four owners with struggling or failing businesses believe disorganization has affected their company’s productivity.

More than half of small-business owners view tax preparation as complicated. Nearly 50 percent of small business owners handle their business’s taxes themselves, and two in five believe that leaving tax preparation to the last minute causes complications. Nearly 40 percent of respondents say they are not good with numbers or do not have accounting expertise.

More than one third of thriving small-business owners face challenges designing effective marketing materials for their business, and 50 percent do not know how to reach new prospective customers on their own. The survey found that thriving small businesses are more likely than others to use all forms of marketing: 63 percent use social media advertising, 59 percent use online advertising and 46 percent use print advertising.