As 2011 draws to a murky conclusion and 2012 rises from the horizon, BizTimes Media recently conducted its first Business Dashboard Survey.
About 300 readers at BizTimes.com completed the survey, which asked questions about the outlook for their companies in 2012.
Keeping in mind that most of the readers are decision-makers at their companies, we found some remarkable optimism among the respondents. The vast majority (65.5 percent) expect their company’s revenues to increase in 2012 from 2011, while only 26.3 percent predict flat revenues and 8.3 percent foresee revenue declines.
Similarly, 62.2 percent expect higher company profits in 2012, while only 28.8 percent predict flat profits and 9.0 percent foresee profit declines.
Simply put, those are some bullish responses amid so many economic and political uncertainties.
Another encouraging sign came in the answers to a question about hiring projections for 2012, as 43.5 percent expect to add staff and 51.1 percent expect to retain their current staffing levels. Only 5.4 percent expect to cut staff.
Other findings from the survey include:
26.3 percent will make significant investments in equipment in 2012.
12.0 percent will expand their office/plant space in 2012.
7.2 percent will move to a new location in 2012.
32.5 percent will provide an employee wellness program in 2012.
49.3 percent expect their employee health care benefit costs will increase by up to 10 percent, and 15.9 percent expect those costs to rise up to 20 percent in 2012. (Of those expecting higher health care benefit costs, 47.1 percent will pass along some of those costs to their employees.)
62.0 percent will increase their investments in branding, advertising and marketing in 2012.
56.3 percent have a company social media strategy.
9.5 percent have a customized company smart phone “app.”
62.1 percent will provide employee pay raises in 2012.
57.3 percent will increase the prices of their goods or services in 2012.
51.8 percent believe the state’s business climate will improve in 2012.
Some of the respondents added comments to their survey responses.
Many respondents applauded Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his reforms.
“Wisconsin is on track with Scott Walker’s leadership,” said Scott Jankowski of DK Sales Inc. in Sussex.
“If we deviate from the track Gov. Walker has us on, the business community will see Wisconsin as a place not to do business, and the unemployment rate will increase, as will taxes, making the perfect storm for Wisconsin to close its doors,” said Bill Forrester of Anchor Moving Systems in Menomonee Falls.
“I think businesses in Wisconsin will definitely improve in 2012 once the political dissonance stops, so businesses can pay more attention to business,” said Ron Sonntag of Ron Sonntag Public Relations Inc. in Milwaukee.
Some expressed disapproval of Walker’s reforms.
“Scott Walker and the GOP need to get out of the way of technological development,” said Keith Schmitz of KRPR Inc. in Shorewood
Jon Rauser of The Rauser Agency Inc. in Milwaukee perhaps took the most pragmatic approach, regardless of the fates of the Walker recall and the 2012 presidential election.
“2012 will be a transformative year. Waiting for Washington or Madison or the Supreme Court to ‘fix’ our problems is a fools errand,” Rauser said. “We need to take matters into our own hands.”