The third quarter 2013 CEO Economic Outlook survey by the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business and the Virginia Council of CEOs finds executives might change how they operate their businesses to implement the new Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Among the executives of small and mid-sized companies participating in the survey, 53 percent agree that the ACA will change the way they operate business, up from 45 percent in the second quarter. When asked if they would consider ceasing employer-provided health coverage, 20 percent agreed, which is a slight increase from 19 percent in the second quarter.

The survey also found staffing to be the most significant issue. Almost 40 percent agreed that finding, hiring, retaining and training employees was the biggest issue they were facing, which is a jump from 29 percent last quarter.

“The Economic Outlook Index crept upwards, and our small business CEOs are generally optimistic about sales in the coming six months,” said Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs. “However, staffing again was the major concern identified by the CEOs. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents named it as the most significant issue for their business, a 35 percent jump over last quarter. Many CEOs I talk to are very cautious about hiring, but more than half anticipate increased employment in the next six months.”

The Virginia Council of CEOs and the Robins School jointly conduct the quarterly survey, which helps central Virginia companies anticipate business decisions and plan for growth.

Jeff Pollack, assistant professor of management at the Robins School, adapted the survey from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American companies that conducts a similar survey nationally.

The following survey results from the second and third quarter of 2013 show projections for the next six months for sales, spending and employment:

2013 Q3

2013 Q2


No Change



No Change


How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months?







How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months?







How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?








The council and the Robins School collected responses from 80 CEOs in central Virginia. The average annual revenue year-to-date for CEOs responding was $11.3 million. The data were compared to the second quarter of 2013 responses of 72 participants. Multiple industries are represented in the sample (for example, construction, manufacturing, finance and insurance, and retail). The average employment of member companies for this survey was 49.

The results also provide an overall economic outlook index, which is based on businesses’ projected six-month sales, spending and employment figures.

Economic Outlook Index

Survey Date

CEO Economic Outlook Index

Q3 2013


Q2 2013


Q1 2013


Q4 2012


Q3 2012


Q2 2012


Q1 2012


Q4 2011


Q3 2011


Q2 2011


Q1 2011


Q4 2010


Q3 2010


Q2 2010


The council continues to expand the survey beyond its members, offering any area business owners whose companies gross at least $1 million in annual revenue the opportunity to participate. If enough businesses participate, the council will provide survey results by industry. Participation is free, and all participants will receive copies of the survey data.

Business owners and CEOs who would like to participate in the next survey should contact Scot McRoberts at

The Virginia Council of CEOs is a nonprofit organization, whose mission is to connect the CEOs of second-stage companies so they can learn from each other and grow their businesses. Learn more at

The Robins School of Business is the only fully accredited, top-ranked undergraduate business school that also is part of a top-ranked liberal arts university. Bloomberg Businessweek ranks both the Robins School’s undergraduate and part-time MBA programs among the top 20 in the country in their respective categories. The school’s executive education division offers open enrollment courses and customized leadership development programs for individuals and businesses.

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Robins School of Business