QuOTE Findings: 2016 Q4

Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrpreneurs (QuOTE) shows slightly less optimism in Q4 2016 relative to Q3

Published Monday, October 24, 2016


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

Among the 146 entrepreneurs participating in this survey, a slightly higher percentage, 83.6 percent (vs. 81.3 percent in Q3 2016), report that they anticipate the next six months may bring increases in sales. In terms of capital spending, a lower percentage, 52.7 percent (vs. 56.8 percent), anticipate increases, and for employment, 52.1 percent (vs. 58.8 percent) anticipate increases.

These data suggest that optimism in terms of sales is up while capital spending and employment growth are down. And, not surprisingly, given this mixed picture the outlook index decreased a bit to 108.47 (from 110.70 in Q3 2016). “What we’re seeing is not entirely unexpected. Firms are growing in terms of sales, but are not feeling confident about investing in capital or employment growth. It will be interesting to see what the first quarter in 2017 reveals,” says Lewis Sheats, senior lecturer of entrepreneurship in Poole College and director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic. “Perhaps after the ambiguity in the political arena is over, our entrepreneurs will be able to more effectively envision the near future.”

The City of Raleigh and the Entrepreneurship Clinic in conjunction with the NC State University Poole College of Management 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’s Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, adapted the survey and analyzed the data, based on the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of American companies that conducts a similar survey nationally with large companies.

The following survey results, from the fourth quarter of 2016, show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment:



2016 Q4 2016 Q3
Increase No Change Decrease Increase No Change Decrease
How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months?   83.6%   12.3%   4.1%  81.3%  15.5%  3.2%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months?    52.7%   41.1%  6.2%   56.8%  35.5%  7.7%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?   52.1%   45.2%   2.7%  58.8%  37.3%  3.9%


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


Survey Date Entrepreneurs’ Economic Outlook Index
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 online on The Entrepreneurship Clinic website.

The City of Raleigh and 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 name, and preferred email address to TheEClinic@ncsu.edu. Participation is free and responses are confidential.