Axial Celebrates Middle Market Monday, Reveals Perspectives of CEOs on 2015: Middle market businesses’ top priorities to finance and hire for their businesses, while the economic and regulatory environment remains a headwind to growth

New York, NY, January 26, 2015 – Axial, the largest network of professionals who run, advise, finance, and acquire private companies, today announced the results of Middle Market Monday, a campaign recognizing middle market businesses and their leaders.

Survey results associated with Middle Market Monday revealed that business owners’ top concerns in 2014 were related to talent – including acquisition, training and retention (31%) – and that a top 2015 priority is securing growth capital (27%). Twelve percent of business leaders also said that expanding into new markets or customer segments was a top goal in 2015. Meanwhile, 66% of business owners believe that the economic and regulatory environment will be a headwind to growth.

More than 100 CEOs, CFOs and other senior leaders of companies with between 25 and 1000 employees and who self-identified as middle market businesses participated in the inaugural holiday. They shared their perspectives on the challenges, goals and external factors that impact their growth. Axial launched an online gallery of all responses from business owners as well as a full report of the data, and is showcasing related surveys from their partners at The National Center for the Middle Market and Vistage at www.middlemarketmonday.com.

“The middle market may be a little-known concept to the general public, but it is perhaps the most important commercial category as we think about economic growth,” said Peter Lehrman, CEO of Axial. “We hear every day from middle market CEOs about their needs to secure capital and identify strategic partners, and it’s clear these businesses are constantly on the lookout for ways to grow. Step one is to start a conversation about their common challenges and shared priorities and encourage the capital providers, policymakers and other partners these companies rely on to recognize what they need to grow. That’s why we created Middle Market Monday.”

Additional key data included:

Finding Funding

  • 38% of middle market business owners cited the availability of funding as a major concern in 2014.
  • 22% of respondents labeled their funding concerns as an external factor that would impact growth.

The Talent Gap

  • 18% said closing the talent gap was a primary goal for 2015, citing specific targets such as doubling headcount and expanding into more promising talent markets.
  • While 21% of businesses in the Midwest said talent-related concerns were one of the issues that kept them up at night in 2014, only 6% from the Northeast said the same.

External Factors

  • 12% cite oil and gas prices as an external factor that could impact growth next year, with 45% of these businesses coming from the Manufacturing and Energy & Utilities sectors.
  • 9% say competition will be inhibitive to growth in the coming year.
  • While economic and regulatory concerns are a constant across all respondents, businesses in the Midwest (93%) and South (82%) are more concerned with the potential impact of these factors on their business growth than those in the Northeast (50%).

“As the labor market tightens, retaining best-in-class employees and becoming competitive as they recruit has become a top priority among middle market business owners,” said Leon Shapiro, CEO of Vistage International, which assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives and business owners. “We expect this to be a key conversation point among business owners as they strive towards achieving their 2015 goals.”

About Middle Market Monday
All responses in the Middle Market Monday gallery can be shared by visiting
http://www.middlemarketmonday.com/why-participate.php. Axial is still collecting responses from business owners at www.middlemarketmonday.com and will be sharing a secondary report with all participants in the coming weeks.

About Axial
Axial (www.axial.net) is the largest network for professionals who run, advise, finance, and acquire private companies. Every week, over 200 private companies use Axial to begin a financial transaction process. CEOs and transaction professionals join Axial to access advice and capital, build relationships, and exchange opportunities that help them and their organizations succeed. Axial is headquartered in New York, NY, and has raised $20M in venture capital funding from Comcast Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and First Round Capital.

About Vistage International
Founded in 1957, Vistage assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives and business owners. Vistage members participate in monthly, Chair-led private advisory board meetings. More than 21,000 members in 16 countries also have access to one-to-one executive coaching, expert speakers, and our global network of business leaders.

Media Contact
Katie McWeeney
Vistage International
858.523.6875
katie.mcweeney@vistage.com