Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) Reveals Fifth Year of Increasing Optimism, Q4 to Q1

Downtown Raleigh skyline on a bright day

Downtown Raleigh skyline on a bright day

The Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) survey for Q1 2019, conducted by the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, finds that the recurring pattern of greater optimism, overall, continues as we move each year from Q4 to Q1, said Lewis Sheats, associate professor of practice in entrepreneurship in the Poole College of Management and executive director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic.

Among the entrepreneurs participating in this survey, the average reported number of full- time employees was roughly 13 (and part-time employees was roughly two). The average of the reported ages of ventures participating was roughly six years.

A slightly lower percentage, 80.6 percent (vs. 81.5 percent in Q4 2018), report that they anticipate the next six months may bring increases in sales. In terms of capital spending, a slightly lower percentage, 51.4 percent (vs. 53.1 percent), anticipate increases, while for employment a greater percentage, 68.1 percent (vs. 64.2 percent) anticipate increases. However, the important aspect to note is that the overall economic outlook index rose to 112.03 (up from 111.33 in Q4 2018), Sheats said.

“This overall trend has been present in the last five cycles from Q4 to Q1,” Sheats said. “There is something fundamental about the transition from Q4 to Q1 in our area that enables entrepreneurs to see the beginning part of the year with greater optimism.” Sheats notes that, “This trend seems to be robust to the economic, as well as the political climate, and tells us something unique about the strength of our ecosystem.”

The Entrepreneurship Clinic in conjunction with the Poole College jointly conduct the quarterly survey, which helps entrepreneurial companies in the Triangle anticipate business decisions and plan for growth. Jeff Pollack, an associate professor in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University, adapted the survey, and analyzed the data, based on the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American companies that conducts a similar survey nationally with large companies.

The following survey results, from the first quarter of 2019 show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment:

QuOTE Survey Results

       
-----------------2019 Q1----------------------------------2018 Q4-----------------
IncreaseNo ChangeDecreaseIncreaseNo ChangeDecrease
How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months? 80.6%18.1%1.4%81.5%14.8%3.7%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months? 51.4%40.3%8.3%53.1%39.5%7.4%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?68.1% 27.8%4.2%64.2%64.2%3.7%

The 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.  

Entrepreneurs’ Economic Outlook Index

Q1 2019112.03
Q4 2018111.33
Q3 2018114.67
Q2 2018123.8
Q1 2018123.23
Q4 2017116.17
Q3 2017114
Q2 2017116.3
Q1 2017117.07
Q4 2016108.47
Q3 2016110.7
Q2 2016103.8
Q1 2016110.77
Q4 2015103.93
Q3 2015107.8
Q2 2015121.83
Q1 2015117.68
Q4 2014113.67

Read more about the survey at the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic website

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

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