Readers optimistic in Dashboard Survey

Readers at BizTimes.com are far more optimistic about the future of their companies for 2014 than they were heading into 2013, according to the annual BizTimes Reader Economic Dashboard Survey.

In the latest survey, 84 percent of readers expect 2014 revenues to be higher than those of 2013, up from 66.7 percent a year ago.

Furthermore, 80 percent are projecting greater profits for the New Year, up from 61.1 percent a year earlier.

Those strong outlooks for revenues and profits should translate into additional jobs being created, as 72 percent project new hiring in 2014, up from 50 percent a year earlier. Other key responses to the survey included:

  • 56 percent expect to make significant investments in equipment in 2014, up from 30.6 percent last year.
  • 24 percent expect to expand their office or plant spaces in 2014, up from 16.7 percent last year.
  • 32 percent plan to incur employee health care benefit cost increases of up to 10 percent in 2014, while 20 percent said their benefit costs will rise up to 20 percent and 20 percent said their benefit costs will drop in 2014.
  • Of those incurring increases in employee health care benefit costs, 75 percent say they will pass some or all of those increases along to employees. Twenty-five percent say they will not pass those costs along.
  • 80 percent say they will increase their investments in branding, advertising and marketing in 2014, up from 63.9 percent last year.
  • 68 percent report their companies have a social media strategy, up from 63.9 percent last year.
  • 12 percent say their companies have developed a customized smart phone “app” for 2014, up from 8.3 percent last year.
  • 80 percent say their companies will provide employee pay raises in 2014, up from 58.3 percent last year.
  • 60 percent say their companies will increase the prices of goods or services in 2014, up from 58.3 percent last year.
  • 76 percent describe the state’s business climate as “improving” for 2014, up from 41.7 percent last year. Only 12 percent describe the climate as “declining.”

Most of the remarks submitted by readers along with their survey responses generally reflect a more upbeat attitude about the year ahead in business.

“Wisconsin is on the proper growth track. Hopefully, the 2014 election cycle won’t grind our progress and momentum to a halt, with our elected officials worrying more about keeping their jobs than they do about helping the business community actually create jobs,” said Dan Nelson Jr., president of Nelson Schmidt Inc., Milwaukee.

“I look forward to moving small business forward and into the new digital economy,” said Ryan Thompson, founder and publisher of Ozaukee Magazine, Cedarburg.

“Our hope is to continue to see people taking the risk and opening a business,” said Michael Bark, accountant at Edge Advisors LLC, West Allis.

“The pro-business attitude of Gov. (Scott) Walker is encouraging,” said Roy Osmon, president of Spectrum Communication Services Inc., Brookfield.

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