Rather than focusing on expansion, small business owners will concentrate on internal development in 2012, a new study finds.

Conducted by Zoomerang Online Surveys and Polls and GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start their businesses, the research revealed that 60 percent of small and midsized businesses plan to focus investments and staffing next year in the business development sector to offset the lack of customer growth .

Comparatively, less than 20 percent of business owners surveyed expect to expand their operations in 2012.

"It's gratifying to see (small and midsized business) owners' resilience and their willingness to invest in the future of their businesses," said Alex Terry, general manager at Zoomerang Online Surveys and Polls.

The survey also revealed that small and midsized businesses intend to fill existing positions or promote employees within their business development and social media departments as a way to concentrate on internal processes instead of altering business plans.

Despite more than a quarter of small business owners not feeling comfortable using social media, the survey shows that a third plan to use it as one of their primary methods of attracting new customers .

"While (small and midsized businesses) see the value of social media for their companies, they still do not understand how to use these tools effectively for their businesses," said Rieva Lesonsky, chief executive officer and founder of GrowBiz Media. "In order for small businesses to remain competitive, it's vital for them to be present on the channels that their customers access most often."

Overall, more than 40 percent of the surveyed business owners remain optimistic about their companies heading into the new year, despite more than 60 percent facing economic hardships and 50 percent failing to meet their 2011 business goals.

The research, designed to gauge the current state of small and midsized businesses in 2011 and their 2012 projections, was based on surveys of 1,000 business owners and decision-makers.