Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs Shows More Optimism in Q1 2017 Relative to Q4 2016

The Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) survey for the first quarter in 2017, conducted by the City of Raleigh and the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, finds entrepreneurs are viewing the next six months more optimistically relative to responses in the fourth quarter of 2016

Among the entrepreneurs participating in this survey, a slightly higher percentage, 84.1 percent. (versus 83.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016) report that they anticipate the next six months may bring increases in sales. In terms of capital spending, a much higher percentage, 65.9 percent (versus 52.7 percent), anticipate increases;  the same is true for employment, 64.8 percent (versus 52.1 percent) anticipate increases.

These data suggest that optimism in terms of sales rose slightly while capital spending and employment growth both rose significantly. And, given these data, the outlook index increased substantially, to 117.07 (from 108.47 in Q4 2016).

“We have not seen this level of outlook index since early in 2015,” said Lewis Sheats, associate professor of practice in Poole College and director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic.

“It will be interesting to see what 2017 reveals. As we have noted before, the great strength of this survey is that we can identify trends over time,” Sheats said. “As 2017 progresses, we need to be aware that one solid outlook index increase is not in and of itself an indicator of positivity. But if we start to see a trend of increases, then we can begin to identify the antecedents to a growth in optimism.”

The City of Raleigh and the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, in conjunction with the NC State Poole College of Management, jointly conduct this quarterly survey to provide data that entrepreneurial companies in the Triangle can use to help anticipate business decisions and plan for growth. Jeff Pollack, an assistant professor in the NC State Poole College of Management, , adapted the survey and analyzes the data based on a similar survey conducted nationally among large companies by the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American companies.

The following survey results, from the first quarter of 2017 show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment:

Projections:
Next 6 Months
2017 Q1 2016 Q4
Increase No Change Decrease Increase No Change Decrease
How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months?

 

84.1% 13.6% 2.3%   83.6%   12.3%   4.1%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months?

 

65.9% 27.3% 6.8%    52.7%   41.1%  6.2%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?

 

64.8% 30.7% 4.5%   52.1%   45.2%   2.7%

The survey results also provide an overall Entrepreneurs’ Economic Outlook Index, which is based on businesses’ projected six-month sales, capital spending and employment figures. Over time, trends in this index can be viewed as indicating general optimism or pessimism about entrepreneurship in the Triangle.

Survey Date Entrepreneurs’ Economic Outlook Index
Q1 2017 117.07
Q4 2016 108.47
Q3 2016 110.70
Q2 2016 103.80
Q1 2016 110.77
Q4 2015 103.93
Q3 2015 107.80
Q2 2015 121.83
Q1 2015 117.68
Q4 2014 113.67

A full report on the findings is available in the research area of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic website.

The City of Raleigh and NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, along with the Poole College of Management, plan to expand the survey. Triangle entrepreneurs who would like to participate are asked to send an email message with their name, business, and preferred email address to TheEClinic@ncsu.edu. Participation is free and responses are confidential.

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