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CEOs Cautiously Optimistic About Small Business Prospects


The leaders of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) registered on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) are feeling more optimistic about business in 2011, a new survey finds. In the United States, four in 10 CEOs of SMBs expect significant growth within their companies in 2011. Globally, that number doubled, with eight out of 10 CEOs reporting expected growth.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship have always been the key ingredients for the success of emerging business,” said Jeff Resnick, who conducted the study on behalf of NYSE Euronext. “The optimism expressed by these CEOs continues this tradition. The confidence of these business leaders is a key ingredient to the economic recovery we are beginning to see.”

Other key findings of the survey point to a cautiously optimistic approach to the coming year.

  • After cutbacks in 2009, CEOs anticipate budget increases in nearly all categories for the year ahead, another indication that they are planning for growth. Spending in areas such as technology and environmental and regulatory compliance are expected to increase by 10 percent or more.
  • Only 25 percent of CEOs said it is easier to attract customers now than in 2009, while 36 percent believe it is getting easier to attract investors .
  • Three in four U.S. CEOs and three in five European CEOs find it easier to attract and retain employees this year than in prior years.
  • Nearly half of the CEOs surveyed expect to be adding to their workforce in 2011, with those based outside of the United States and Europe being the most likely to hire more people.
  • While three of four CEOs feel they do enough to protect their companies’ reputations, those surveyed believe the most important characteristics that would have a positive impact on their company’s reputation are honesty, integrity, ethics, transparency and leadership by example.

The survey interviewed 325 CEOs of companies with sales of less than $500 million. In total, 66 percent of respondents were based in the U.S.