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SMB CEOs Say: The Economy Has Finally Turned the Corner

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The Q3 2014 Vistage CEO Confidence Index just came out, and 75% of the CEOS surveyed anticipate revenue gains over the next 12 months, although only 38% believe that overall economic conditions in the US will be better in the next 12 months.  That seems like a strange contradiction to me; or maybe, it’s just that the CEOs feel confident in what they’re seeing in their own businesses, but the 24 hour news cycle is still a little pessimistic about the economy as a whole.

cornerAnother interesting contradiction in the report is that while 75% believe their sales revenues will increase over the next 12 months and 46% believe prices for their product or service will increase, only 59% believe their profitability will improve.  Sounds like they’re expecting inflation to cause increases in COGS and overhead.

Some other good news from the survey:  58% of the CEOs expect their firms’ fixed investment expenditures to increase during the next twelve months, and 58% of CEOs plan to increase their firm’s total number of employees over the next 12 months.  Both of these responses show the most expansive plans since 2006!

The downside of this hiring, of course, is that it will be harder to find new employees with the right mix of education and experience for your open positions.  And in fact, 35% of CEOs believe that the most significant business issue they face right now is finding, hiring, training and retaining staff. I can totally relate to their pain – we’re currently looking for a new Associate and the number of unqualified applicants outnumber qualified applicants by about 7 to 1.

One of the most interesting questions the survey asked of CEOs was, “Does your organization have any unique programs?”  The answers given included:

  • Flexible Schedules – 17%
  • Remote Working – 16%
  • Employee Engagement – 15%
  • Tuition Reimbursement – 14%

Looks like the CEOs are trying to use unique benefits to address the staffing issues they’re facing.

So what about you?  Are you anticipating revenue and profitability growth in the next 12 months?  And what are you doing about the staffing issue?  Comments welcome!