Optimism at a Two Year High among Small and Mid-sized CEOs, According to New Survey from Vistage

SAN DIEGO (October 1, 2014) – Optimism among small and mid-sized business leaders is at a reported two year high, according to the Vistage CEO Confidence Index, the largest survey of chief executives from small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. And this vote of confidence from these business leaders reveals a positive trend in the U.S. economy as a whole.

“U.S. small and mid-sized businesses, the core of Vistage membership, represent one of the most vital components of the nation’s economy,” said Leon Shapiro, CEO of Vistage International. “This sector creates 75 percent of all new jobs and generates 50 percent of all national revenue. The opinions and insights of these business leaders often provide a leading indicator for overall national employment, capital expenditure, sales and revenue and profit trends.”

The Vistage Confidence Index, which is scored as the percent giving favorable replies minus the percent unfavorable plus 100, was 103.4 in the third quarter 2014 survey – its highest level since 105.1 was recorded in the first quarter of 2012. The increase, in combination with investment spending and hiring, hints at how small businesses have adapted as they navigated a recovering economy and found continued stability over the last two years.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents said their local government was impacting their business; out of that number, 40 percent said the impact was negative. This question was new to the survey this year.
  • Planned increases in investments in new plant and equipment were reported by 48 percent of respondents in the third quarter, while a mere 9 percent planned to reduce their spending on fixed investments during the next 12 months. This is the most expansive outlook for investment spending since 2006. Additionally, investment spending plans have remained at a strong level since the beginning of 2014.
  • Workforce increases were planned by 58 percent of all firms, while only four percent planned reductions. The robust planned expansion in their workforce meant that one-in-three firms said that finding, hiring, training, and retaining talent was the most significant issue that they now faced.

“Local government – particularly the rules and regulations they impose – heavily impacts the local economy and small businesses,” said Ken Buckman, CEO of Chicago-based TradeTec Skyline and Vistage member. “Certain states are making a conscious effort to appeal to small business owners, while others push them away through over-regulation. It’s a serious issue.”

About the Vistage CEO Confidence Index
The Vistage CEO Confidence Index, established in 2003, is a quarterly survey of small- to mid-sized business CEOs about the U.S. economy. The Q3 2014 Vistage CEO Confidence Index includes responses from 1,359 U.S. CEOs, surveyed between September 8 and September 17, 2014 with a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points. Since its establishment in 2003, the Index has proven to be a reliable indicator for changes in GDP and employment, two to three quarters hence.

About Vistage International
Founded in 1957 and headquartered in San Diego, California, 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.