Business owners report needing to spend less time managing their business in order to grow them, according to a survey released by payroll provider ADP.

Despite concern about ongoing economic challenges, a new survey indicates that small business owners are optimistic about business prospects in the year ahead, but closely link anticipated growth with implementing new operational efficiencies. Respondents of the survey said they wanted to acquire new tools and resources designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently.

While 80 percent of small business owners indicate that they have been negatively impacted by the economy, more than 50 percent expect their businesses to expand in the coming year. Survey participants identified these key areas where improving operational efficiency can help grow their business:

•    Running payroll – 50 percent of small business owners say they would dedicate time saved on administrative functions to running their businesses. More than one third believe that redeploying time spent on payroll to other activities would lead to an increase in company revenue. And more than half indicated they’d be interested in using their mobile devices to aid with administrative tasks.

•    Lifestyle – As we know, the definition of “the office” is changing and small business executives are spending a significant amount of time outside the office. 90 percent of respondents said that they spent at least some time outside of the office with an average of nine hours per week – 23 percent of a 40 percent work week.

•    Mobile usage – Smartphones are a frequent companion to small business owners. Six out of 10 executives surveyed owned a Smartphone and 80 percent of Smartphone users use them for business. Those using mobile devices for business do so primarily to aid with customer relations (77 %) and time management (53 %).