- 250 Businesses in the Greater Philadelphia Area
- Over 90 Online Survey Respondents
- Annual sales of up to $200 million
- Sole-proprietorships to 500+ employee-base
- Privately-held, employee-held, and publicly-held companies
- For-profit and non-profit organizations
Revenue growth in 2018 was slightly lower than in 2017 but remains high relative to the past 10 years. The percent of respondents claiming “no change” continues it’s 5-year downward trend.
How “robust” are your forecasts?
- 69% of businesses experienced revenue increases (of the 90% predicted).
- 14% of businesses experienced revenue decrease (only 3% predicted).
- 65% of company’s saw increased profits while 18% saw their profits decline in 2018 – (prediction was 79% to increase and 3% to decrease).
- 50% increased their headcount while 14% reduced staffing levels compared to the prediction that 67% would increase and 3% would reduce.
- Predictions, as usual, aren’t always accurate. But the reality of 2018 was, in general, less optimistic than the predictions. That said, fundamentals appear to be very strong, and CEOs generally anticipate a strong 2019.
If you split the difference between forecast & worst-case scenario, you get actuals
- Scenario Planning has decreased to 57%, down from 63% last year.
- Worst-case budgeting remains steady at 52%. 51% of entrepreneurs did worst-case scenario planning in 2018. 58% did so in 2017. 2015 was 53%, 2013 & 2014 were 51%, 2012 was 57% and 2011 was 63%.
Businesses exhibit continued & growing economic optimism heading into 2019.
- 65% expect to increase gross profit (compared to 79% last year)
- 59% plan to increase headcount (compared to 67% last year)
- 83% expect to increase revenue (compared to 90% last year)
- 60% expect increased revenue per employee (compared to 68% last year)
Key issues facing CEOs in 2019…
- In the past, People has consistently been CEOs biggest challenge (45% in 2018), followed by Execution (23% in 2018), Cash (14% in 2018) and Strategy (8% in 2018).
- This year, we asked respondents to rank these challenges, rather than simply select which is their single biggest expected challenge.
- Again, People is by far CEOs #1 anticipated challenge going into 2019, followed by Execution, then Cash, then Strategy.
Among this survey’s respondents, 2018 saw slightly lower growth in employment base than initially forecast. Only 19% of area CEOs, however, reported a decline in their employee base. 2019 predictions are stronger than real growth in 2018, indicating CEO optimism about their organizations’ resources for finding and making new hires.
When asked about their top people-related priorities for 2018, 52% of CEOs reported finding and keeping good people, 9% said developing the management skills and competency of key people, and 16% said improving sales performance.
In particular, finding and keeping good people has risen dramatically as a priority from 2018 to 2019. It seems to be a key focus of many area CEOs – it’s the #1 priority overall, by far, for more than half of businesses surveyed.
TOP PRIORITIES FOR 2019
Overall, respondents cited finding & keeping good people, increasing revenue, and increasing gross profits as top priorities for 2019. Interestingly, the biggest differences from 2018 include the top two items—finding and keeping good people (up 14% points) and increasing revenues (down 18% points).
Though online and digital marketing channels continue to grow in importance, networking is still king. The most notable increases from 2018 to 2019 include 6% point increases in both online social networking and search engine optimization (SEO).