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Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) Holds Steady from Q1 to Q2, Yet Hints at Nuanced Perspectives

Downtown Raleigh skyline on a bright day
Downtown Raleigh skyline on a bright day

The Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) survey for Q2 2019, conducted by the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, finds an overall steady index number from Q1 to Q2.

However, among the Triangle entrepreneurs participating in this survey, a much high percentage, 90.7% (vs. 80.6% in Q1 2019) report that they anticipate the next six months may bring increases in sales. In terms of capital spending, a lower percentage, 55.6% (vs. 51.4%), anticipate increases, while for employment a much lower percentage, 59.3% (vs. 68.1%) anticipate increases. Overall, despite this movement in optimism, the overall economic outlook index rose slightly to 112.97 (up from 112.03 in Q1 2019).

“In 2018, and now in 2019, we’ve seen a very slight increase in the outlook index from Q1 to Q2. But, the real story this quarter is in the increase in optimism about sales, and the decreases in optimism for capital spending and employment growth,” says Lewis Sheats, associate professor of practice in entrepreneurship in the NC State Poole College of Management and executive director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic.

“Looking back at Q2 findings from 2018, we did see a slight uptick in sales optimism. And, we saw slight changes in optimism for capital spending (down slightly) and employment growth (up slightly). One possible explanation for the larger changes than usual could be the new tax code changes—but, that would need further examination and we’d need to track this possible trend, as we usually do with all these data, over time,” Sheats said.

The Entrepreneurship Clinic, in conjunction with Poole College, jointly conducts the quarterly survey which helps entrepreneurial companies in the Triangle anticipate business decisions and plan for growth. Jeff Pollack, an associate professor in the NC State Poole College of Management 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 second quarter of 2019 show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment:

-----------------2019 Q2----------------------------------2019 Q1-----------------
IncreaseNo ChangeDecreaseIncreaseNo ChangeDecrease
How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months? 90.7%5.6%3.7%80.6%18.1%1.4%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months? 55.6%38.8%5.6%51.4%40.3%8.3%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?59.3%33.3%7.4%68.1%27.8%4.2%

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

Q2 2019112.97
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

A full report on the findings is available online at the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic research page.

The Entrepreneurship Clinic as well as the 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 Participation is free, and responses are confidential.