On Monday, we released the results of our Q3 Vistage CEO Confidence Index. Various media reported the newsworthy information: no impending double dip recession; 57% of Vistage CEOs expect their healthcare costs to rise more than 10% in 2011; and two-thirds of these CEOs believe not extending the Bush tax cuts beyond 2010 would be bad for their business.
However, I was particularly struck by something else. We asked Vistage CEOs if they would start a business today. Fifty-three percent of them said they would not. Only 42% said that they would. That’s surprising, even troubling.
Consider this: These are the very same folks who not too many years back did start up businesses. Today, most of these businesses produce somewhere between $5 million and $50 million in revenue (some are even larger). These CEOs have built very successful companies. And yet if they had to do it all over again, they would not start a business today. Given the love affair we’ve always had in this country with entrepreneurship, innovation and risk-taking, that more than half of our CEOs said they would not do it today makes me wonder why not.
Have conditions changed so drastically that their entrepreneurial spirit has been squelched? Or would they just not want to do it over again? I hope it’s the latter. It would be a great shame and a huge loss for our country if aspiring entrepreneurs did not pursue their dreams with the same level of passion as their predecessors. Our future depends on a robust and confident entrepreneurial spirit. It always has; it always will.