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Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs Q1 2018 Survey Results Show Highest Positive Index Level in Three Years

The Quarterly Outlook of Triangle Entrepreneurs (QuOTE) survey for Q1 2018, conducted by the City of Raleigh and the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, finds the highest positive index level seen since the survey began in the fourth quarter of 2014, with respondents showing higher anticipated activity across the three areas included in the survey: sales, capital spending and employment.

Among the entrepreneurs participating in this survey, a greater percentage – 91.1 percent (vs. 85.4 percent in Q4 2017) – report that they anticipate the next six months may bring increases in sales. In terms of capital spending, a higher percentage, 63.3 percent (vs. 58.5 percent), anticipate increases, while for employment, a greater percentage, 69.3 percent (vs. 63.6 percent) anticipate increases.

“This is very good news for our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Lewis Sheats, associate professor of practice in entrepreneurship in the Poole College of Management and executive director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic. “We’ve now seen three quarters of growing optimism among the entrepreneurs in our community. And, across all areas – sales, capital spending, and employment growth – we see greater percentages of entrepreneurs with a positive outlook for the next six months,” Sheats said.

“From the beginning, we’ve advocated that the value of this survey is that it enables us to identify trends over time and we are now seeing a prolonged, and positive, trend upward,” he said. “Next, we need to identify the specific parts of the ecosystem that are driving the optimism.”

The City of Raleigh and the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic in conjunction with the 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 associate professor in Poole College, 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 first quarter of 2018 show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment.

2018 Q1

2017 Q4

Increase No Change Decrease Increase No Change Decrease
How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months?


 91.1%  6.9%  2.0%  85.4%  11.2%  3.4%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months?


 63.3%  34.7%  2.0%  58.5%  35.9%  5.6%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?


 69.3%  30.7%  0.0%  63.6%  36.4%  0.0%

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

Q1 2018 123.23
Q4 2017 116.17
Q3 2017 114.00
Q2 2017 116.30
Q1 2017 117.07
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 at the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic website.

The City of Raleigh, the NC State 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 Participation is free and responses are confidential.

This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.