Small and Midsize Business Confidence Climbs for Fourth Consecutive Quarter, Fueling Anticipation for 2025 Growth Cycle

Vistage CEO Confidence Index Reveals Hiring Plans Have Slowed Despite Improvements in Economic Sentiment

SAN DIEGO, April 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Small and midsize business (SMB) CEOs’ confidence in the economy continued its upward trajectory in Q1 2024, per the latest CEO Confidence Index from Vistage, a CEO coaching and peer advisory organization.

This quarter marks four consecutive quarters of increased confidence, signaling sustained growth in economic optimism. In Q1 2024, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index surged nearly four points to 85.9, maintaining its steady climb from 82 in Q4 2023, 76 in Q3 2023, 74.2 in Q2 2023, and 72.6 in Q1 2023.

Vistage CEO Confidence Index | Surveying CEOs of Small to Mid-sized Businesses Since 2003 (PRNewsfoto/Vistage Worldwide, Inc.)
Vistage CEO Confidence Index | Surveying CEOs of Small to Mid-sized Businesses Since 2003 (PRNewsfoto/Vistage Worldwide, Inc.)

“Much like athletes undergoing rigorous rehabilitation after sustaining serious injuries, our economy is steadily recovering from the unprecedented challenges imposed by the pandemic,” said Joe Galvin, Vistage’s chief research officer. “We’ve observed a notable improvement in economic sentiment, which has been a key driver behind the surging Vistage CEO Confidence Index. While expectations for revenue and profits have remained stable compared to the previous quarter, we’ve noticed a slight increase in investment for expansion initiatives, tempered by a decline in intentions to hire. We are cautiously optimistic we are slowly inching towards a 2025 growth cycle.”

Since 2003, Vistage has measured SMB CEOs’ sentiment on a variety of economic and business factors each quarter. ITR Economics’ rate-of-change methodology has revealed the Vistage CEO Confidence Index is a leading indicator of the U.S. Industrial Production Index nine months in advance.

ITR Economics Vice President of Economics Jackie Greene said, “While the Index has indeed climbed to 85.9, it’s also noteworthy that this level mirrors recessionary lows Vistage recorded pre-pandemic. It is important to have caution interpreting the rise in the Vistage CEO Confidence Index level as an outright positive sign for the overall economy, and instead look at the more complete picture Vistage’s Index has captured over the last 20+ years.”

Q1 2024 Vistage CEO Confidence Index highlights include:

CEOs are facing mounting pressure on wages as hiring plans slow.

  • 51% of SMB CEOs plan to increase hiring in the year ahead (down five percentage points from last quarter and below last year’s 54%).
    • Of those planning to expand their workforce:
      • 6% report hiring plans for Q1 2024.
      • 28% report hiring plans for Q2 2024.
      • 19% report hiring plans for Q3 2024.
      • 4% report hiring plans for Q4 2024.
      • 42% plan to hire steadily throughout the next 12 months.
  • Conversely, 10% of CEOs plan to decrease their workforce in the coming year (up from 7% last quarter).
  • At the same time, the majority of CEOs (65%) report labor as the biggest source of inflation currently impacting their business.
  • In response to increased costs, more than half of CEOs (51%) plan to increase prices for their product or service in the coming year (slightly below last quarter’s 54%).

CEOs are increasingly optimistic about the economy.

  • 26% of SMB CEOs report that the economy has improved during the past year (up from 20% last quarter). 29% say the economy worsened in the past year, down from 58% a year ago.
  • 26% expect the economy to improve in the year ahead (up from 21% last quarter and a 13 percentage-point gain since Q3 2023). 21% expect the economy to worsen in the year ahead, down from 53% a year ago.

CEOs’ expectations for profitability and revenue remain stable.

  • 60% of SMB CEOs expect increased revenues in the year ahead (the highest proportion in two years).
  • 46% of CEOs project increased profits in the next 12 months.
  • Key factors driving expectations for increased profitability include:
    • 51% report cost-saving measures.
    • 48% report cost efficiencies based on increased volumes.
    • 43% implemented price increases.
    • 9% report input costs decreasing.

Succession planning is top-of-mind for CEOs.

  • 36% of SMB CEOs report they are currently creating succession plans. 15% of CEOs have already identified their successor, and 20% have identified successors for key leadership positions within their company.
  • When asked about plans for the leadership team this year:
    • 59% are investing in development.
    • 42% are promoting team members.
    • 41% are enhancing succession planning.
    • 35% are reorganizing leadership.
    • 31% are recruiting for leadership positions.
    • 27% are modifying compensation.
    • 20% are replacing team members.

See the full results for the Q1 2024 Vistage CEO Confidence Index at

About the Vistage CEO Confidence Index
Established in 2003, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index surveys small to midsize business CEOs, presidents, and business owners about the U.S. economy each quarter. The Q1 2024 Vistage CEO Confidence Index includes responses from 1,768 U.S. CEOs, surveyed between March 4-18, 2024. Using ITR Economics’ rate-of-change methodology, analysis has revealed that the Vistage CEO Confidence Index is a leading indicator of the U.S. Industrial Production Index 9 months in advance.

For over 20 years, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index has been the definitive voice of high-performing, high-integrity small and midsize business leaders. As a trusted resource, the Index provides world-class insights to inform decision-making for CEOs and other key leaders of small and midsize businesses.

About Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
Vistage is the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. For more than 65 years, we’ve been helping CEOs, business owners and key executives solve their greatest challenges through confidential peer groups and one-to-one executive coaching sessions. Today, more than 45,000 members in 35 countries rely on Vistage to help make better decisions for their companies, families and communities. The results prove it: Vistage CEO members grew their annual revenue on average by 4.6% in 2020, while nonmembers with comparable small and midsize businesses saw revenue decrease by 4.7%, according to a study of Dun & Bradstreet data. Learn more at

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