Small businesses are optimistic about themselves and the economy, the chief executive of Hartford Financial Services told CNBC Tuesday.
"They are sensing things are mildly better," Liam McGee said. According to the Hartford's survey of 2,000 small businesses, 70 percent are "very optimistic" about the future.
"These enterprises want to grow, they love what they do and are optimistic," he said.
But they "are cognizant of the challenges," he pointed out. About 37 percent said they are being held back by such "economic restrictions" as government rules and regulations, and taxes.
"If we could get a slight tone change from the [federal] government, this could be a significant catalyst for growth and job creation in the next few years," McGee said.
Another problem: Small businesses can't find qualified workers, even at a time of 9 percent unemployment.
McGee said part of the problem is the "failings of the education system" in the U.S. where "some of the young people don't have the basic reading, writing and arithmetic, if you will, for some of the technical skills necessary."
But another problem is the "attitude" of those applying for jobs.
Entrepreneurs, he said, are having trouble "finding people who share their attitude, their enthusiasm, that ownership mindset, if you will, and they’re not people that settle for less than they’re looking for."