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Survey: CEOs of small, mid-sized businesses remain cautiously optimistic

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Survey: CEOs of small, mid-sized businesses remain cautiously optimistic

Recruiting and retaining staff remains the most significant challenge.

Middle market and small business CEOs remain optimistic about their businesses’ growth, despite greater concerns about the challenging economy, according to a closely-watched survey of CEOs.

“Although CEOs remain cautious about the economy, they are displaying a prudent sense of optimism about their own firms and are beginning to plan for the future,” said Dr. Richard Curtin, an economist at the University of Michigan who analyzes the survey results each quarter. “While the recent slide in confidence is of concern, the data thus far indicates that most firms still plan to expand their payrolls, and increase planned investments.”

“Members’ confidence in the economy continues to slip, even as they remain confident about their own business.”

The Vistage CEO Confidence Index, which is scored as the percent giving favorable replies minus the percent unfavorable plus 100, was 96.3 in the 3rd quarter 2015 survey – down from 103.4 during last year’s 3rd quarter results.

With CEOs beginning to look toward the future, recruiting and retaining staff remains the most significant challenge currently facing their businesses. The issue was cited by 34% of all respondents, more than twice as frequently as the next most cited issues – too slow growth (15%) and economic uncertainty (15%).

Other notable survey findings include:

  • When asked about planned workforce expansion, only 8% of firms reported planned cutbacks in the year ahead. Over half of firms reported plans to expand their workforce in the 3rd quarter survey, just slightly below the 58% reported in 2014.
  • Nearly three-fourths of all CEOs reported expected revenue gains in the 3rd quarter, unchanged from the prior quarter survey and slightly below last year’s figure of 75%.
  • Net investment plans remained stable, with 44 percent reporting planned increases in investments in new plant and equipment.

“Members’ confidence in the economy continues to slip, even as they remain confident about their own business,” said Leon Shapiro, CEO of Vistage Worldwide. “As we talk to CEOs across all industries, we continue to hear that they are becoming increasingly more focused on their business and preparing for the future, despite the seemingly declining economy.”

 

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