Optimism among Small Firms at its Highest Level in Three Years, According to Vistage Surveys

SAN DIEGO (April 7, 2015) — According to Vistage’s  quarterly CEO Confidence Index Survey (/vistage-ceo-survey/), optimism among small businesses is at its highest level since the survey began, nearly three years ago. As optimism about the U.S. economy remains strong, CEOs identify staffing as the most significant issue they face right now.

“Over 90 percent of the CEOs surveyed said it is difficult to find candidates that possess all of the job skills they are looking for when hiring,” said Michael Molina, chief human resource officer for Vistage. “Finding good job candidates is a time intensive task, and for small firms, the selection entails more risks and rewards.”

Locating, hiring, training and retaining staff was cited as the largest issue by 36 percent of all reporting firms in the first quarter of 2015 survey, more than twice as frequently as any other issue. The three top missing skills, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the responses, were: a lack of motivation to excel (24 percent), an ability to solve problems (21 percent), and an ability to communicate (18 percent). These skills are essential to small firms since most employees carry out tasks on their own, need to solve whatever problems arise, and must effectively communicate with others at the workplace as well as customers.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • More than 60 percent of all small firms reported that they intended to expand their total workforce during the year ahead.
  • Profits were expected to increase by 62 percent of all firms in 2015, unchanged from last quarter, and above last year’s 57 percent. This was the best two-quarter average since 2006. Interestingly, profits were not expected to benefit from rising prices, as fewer CEO’s anticipated price hikes for their product or service than last quarter: 30 percent expected net price hikes, down from 36 percent last quarter.
  • An improving economy was reported by 61 percent of all firms in the first quarter of 2015, the third highest level since the start of 2005. When asked about future prospects for the national economy, 45 percent expected continued economic growth. Overall, CEO’s continue to hold a very favorable outlook for the economy in 2015.

“The robust hiring plans among our respondents coupled with optimism about the improving economy signify that the economy has reached a peak not seen since before the recession,” said Leon Shapiro, CEO of Vistage. “The next step for businesses to become successful is going to be to find and retain top talent who has the motivation to excel, solve problems and communicate.”

For highlights of the Vistage CEO Confidence Index and Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey, and to hear from Vistage members about what is top of mind for them and their businesses visitThe Pulse of Small Business: https://www.vistage.com/research-center/wallstreetjournal-confidence-index/
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Media contact
Claire Mathison
469.644.6239 claire.mathison@kemperlesnik.com

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 Q1 2015 Vistage CEO Confidence Index includes responses from 1,541 U.S. CEOs, surveyed between Mar. 9 and Mar. 18, 2015, with a margin of error of 3.5 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 45,000 members in 35 countries also have access to one-to-one executive coaching, expert speakers, and our global network of business leaders.