The findings of a new report indicate that an 87 percent majority of female entrepreneurs feel optimistic about the prospects for their businesses in 2014.

According to a release from the National Association of Women Business Owners, the figure represents a 12 percent increase in positivity from the previous year.

“Women small business owners are not just more optimistic about their own businesses, they’re also more bullish about the prospects for female entrepreneurs who are just starting out,” Billie Dragoo, the national board chair of NAWBO, was quoted as saying. “With a positive outlook and strong entrepreneurial spirit, women business owners continue to be a driving force of our economy.”

The conclusions expressed in the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, which was commissioned jointly by NAWBO and Group, Inc., were reached following a thorough analysis of an annual survey that involved the participation of over 600 female business owners from all over the country.

In addition to expressing high hopes, however, women business owners also shared some of their biggest concerns for the upcoming months.

Increasing the client bases of their respective ventures topped the list, with 90 percent of survey participants naming it as a priority. Client retention followed – 81 percent of the women asked indicated concern on the matter.

Many female entrepreneurs hope to combat potential issues on that front by placing greater emphasis on their online marketing initiatives, the release indicated.

“Women small business owners recognize the importance of the web, mobile and social media to engage, capture and nurture customer relationships, and they are increasing investments in these resources to drive growth,” said David L. Brown, chairman, CEO and president of “However, WBOs face unique challenges in social media, where they lack either the expertise or time to realize the full potential of this channel.”

To that point, the survey highlighted a gap of 18 percentage points between female business owners who feel the use of social media is paramount in both maintaining and expanding their client bases (85 percent), and those who actively utilize social networking platforms to engage current and prospective clients alike (67 percent) – a gap that the release referred to as a “tremendous missed opportunity.”

Brown added: “Small business owners who prioritize the web and social media in their marketing mix – or find a partner to help them gain this expertise – will reap the benefits of increased customer engagement and satisfaction.”

In addition to concerns regarding the longevity of their businesses, significant portions of female business owners polled for the survey expressed worry over business tax issues (80 percent) and accessibility to health care (71 percent).

The annual survey was conducted by NAWBO between January 21 and February 11 of this year. In all, 606 female business owners took part in the study.