Just last week we released the results of our Vistage CEO Confidence Index. We had over 1,600 CEO responses to a broad range of questions about their own businesses and the economy in general. It was interesting to see that their level of confidence in the overall economy is actually up slightly. What’s more significant is to see how many of our members’ confidence in their own businesses’ revenues, profits and even hiring is up for the next 12 months. We participated in a number of press interviews and received quite a bit of coverage about that, largely because everyone wants to know why. Why are these CEOs, despite all the continuing uncertainty and even some renewed negativity (talk of double dip recession), still being relatively confident about their own futures?
I think there are two reasons. First, from a broader perspective, they’ve always been relatively confident about the businesses they control because they’re innovative and nimble. They can turn their little ship much faster than the big ships can turn. They’ve also always believed in themselves, their people and their ideas. They are inherently “can do” confident. It’s one of the reasons small-medium businesses are the heart and soul—the real engines—of our economy.
Second, and more specifically, most Main Street CEOs are ahead of the curve. They’re ahead of big businesses and they’re ahead of Washington. They saw that sea changes were coming and they have already made the necessary course adjustments. They’re managing with smaller budgets, fewer people, less credit, and reduced spending by their customers—yet they keep growing and believing they will continue to grow. Why? Because as entrepreneurs, they’re finding new ways to do business. They’re going abroad in record fashion; 25% of our Vistage CEO Confidence Index respondents are now doing business in China or plan to do business in China in the next 12 months. They’re using the web and social media in ways they’ve never done before to market, promote, and sell their products and services. And they’re looking at other areas that they have competencies in to expand their businesses. They’re doing more with less, and they believe in themselves. That’s why they have more confidence