Despite the winter blues, there may be a silver lining for smaller businesses.
Retailers with $5 million or less in annual revenue had a better 2014, meaning they may have more cushion for sales pressures including those related to the weather. That's according to Sageworks, a financial analytics company.
"The Sageworks data shows that privately held companies have successfully improved their financial standing over the past few years," said Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman in an email message to CNBC. "Even better news for these businesses were their related increases in profitability. In 2014, the average small, private company was making almost 10 cents on every dollar—a significant improvement over the 3 or 4 cents they were making as recently as 2011."
Looking ahead, NFIB's February data showed more businesses are anticipating better job numbers and a lower unemployment rate in the overall economy. About 26 percent also said they plan to make capital outlays.
"The good news is the indicators, especially those related to generation of GDP and jobs, saw a nice bump," NFIB's Dunkelberg said. "Those kinds of things suggest fundamentally that businesses will see the future in a better light or they wouldn't be putting their money out on the table, they expect to see a payoff."
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