The third-quarter Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index indicates there is a continued spirit of forward-facing optimism among small business owners, despite persistent trials. The overall score of 60 was 12 points higher than last quarter, driven by a sharp rise in sentiment about future expectations. The overall positive movement in sentiment was contrasted by the third successive quarterly decline in optimism about current business conditions. While only 19% of the 600 business owners surveyed feel optimistic about their present situation (a 20-point decline from the second quarter), 41% feel optimism about what the future may hold, marking a 32-point quarter-over-quarter rise. “Small businesses have been navigating through incredibly stressful circumstances for the last several months,” said Steve Troutner, head of Small Business at Wells Fargo. “This latest survey data indicates that many have worked hard to make adjustments and are feeling better about their future prospects, yet they still face tough near-term struggles as the economy recovers at an uneven pace.” The survey was based on web interviews conducted the week of Aug. 7.