The National Federation of Independent Business' index of business optimism increased 2.4 points during the month, to 98.9, the Washington-based advocacy group said.
Some 30 percent of small-business owners said they expect to purchase equipment during the next few months, compared with 26 percent who said so in December. The survey results are consistent with economic growth of around 2.8 percent in the current quarter, the group said.
Twenty-three percent of small businesses plan to create more jobs in the next three months, up from 14 percent in December.
Seven of the 10 index components in the survey rose last month.
Fifteen percent of small-businesses owners polled said they added workers in January, and more than a quarter reported unfilled job openings.