HORSHAM business confidence in the city's economy has reached a five-year record, a new survey has shown.
Almost 58 per cent of respondents believe local economic conditions will improve in the next six months compared with just 12 per cent who thought conditions would deteriorate.
The survey, by Business Horsham and Watts Price Accountants, had 78 respondents.
Business Horsham vice-chairman Brian Watts said it was the highest level of confidence out of the 10 surveys since 2009.
"We see that respondents are extremely confident about the conditions facing the local economy in the coming six months," he said.
"Optimists outweighed pessimists by an impressive ratio of 44 to nine, which was the best result since the survey began."
Confidence in the national economy was significantly lower, with 37 per cent of respondents believing it was set to improve in the next six months.
The two major issues businesses nominated as hurdles to growth were staff training, with 63 per cent of businesses saying they would need to address it in the next six months, and access to new markets which 55 per cent said would need improvement.
Mr Watts said staff training was a significant issue for small business.
"Staff training continues to be of major importance to assisting business growth,'' he said.
"Of all the 25 respondents with between five and 20 employees, 76 per cent said staff training needed to be addressed for them to grow."
Staff performance reviews were also nominated as an area in which business could improve, with 38 per cent saying they kept clear and concise records of reviews.
Mr Watts said improving performance reviews was a step business could take to improve outcomes across the board.
"This indicates an opportunity exists for a large number of employers to improve their staff review process," he said. "There is a win-win outcome to be had from a contented staff.
"Businesses could take steps to start or improve these simple but effective procedures to enhance outcomes."
He said employees should ask their bosses for performance reviews.
The survey's respondents were from various Horsham locations including Firebrace Street, Horsham Plaza, the Wilson Street and Hamilton Street areas, the CBD businesses neighbouring Firebrace Street and areas outside the CBD.
Retail accounted for 43 per cent of businesses surveyed, with the remaining businesses from a diverse range of sectors.