QuOTE Findings: 2015 Q4

QuOTE Q4 survey: optimism levels remain down for capital spending, employment growth; up for sales

Published Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) survey for Q4 2015, conducted by the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, finds entrepreneurs are viewing the next six months less optimistically in terms of capital spending and employment growth, but a bit more optimistically in terms of sales.

Among the 142 entrepreneurs participating in this survey, a greater percentage 83.6% (vs. 81.1% in Q3 2015) report that they anticipate the next six months may bring increases in sales. In terms of capital spending, a lower percentage, 43.5% (vs. 58.9%), anticipate increases, and for employment, 50.4% (vs. 56.7%) anticipate increases.

“Over the past year, we have seen a sharp increase and then this continued decline in overall optimism. The outlook index fell again to 103.93 (from 107.80 in Q3),” said Lewis Sheats, senior lecturer of entrepreneurship in the North Carolina State University Poole College of Management and the director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic.

“One aspect of this survey that is particular useful is the ability to detect and identify trends. Now that we have had two quarters of decline, we would be wise to explore what factors may have precipitated this trend, relative to late 2014 and early 2015 which saw growing optimism across the board,” Sheats said. “And, now that we are seeing a bit of increased optimism in sales, with decreased optimism in capital spending and employment growth, entrepreneurs are encouraged to watch this carefully and plan accordingly.”

The Entrepreneurship Clinic and 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 assistant professor in the Poole College of Management at NC State 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 fourth quarter of 2015 show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment:
QuOTE 2015 Q4 Survey Results - Projections

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.

QuOTE 2015-Q4 Entrepreneurs' Economic Outlook Index
A full report on the findings is available online at http://entrepreneurshipclinic.ncsu.edu/clinic-research/

The Entrepreneurship Clinic and 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 TheEClinic@ncsu.edu. Participation is free and responses are confidential.