CHICAGO, IL — According to a survey by accounting firm Grant Thornton and Wirthlin Worldwide, 79 percent of U.S. middle market companies are optimistic about the future of their business over the next six months, and half plan to increase hiring.

“To survive and thrive in the current economic climate, middle market businesses are tightening their belts and getting back to basics,” said John Desmond, partner-in-charge of the Grant Thornton Business Owners Council and the firm's Long Island, NY, office. “With clear goals set for the future, these business leaders are preparing for business growth — both financial and headcount.”

Additional findings of the Grant Thornton Survey of Middle Market Business Leaders include:

  • 84% are optimistic about the growth of their business over the next 12 months.

  • 54% expect their business growth to be organic, 17% predict growth through a joint venture/strategic alliance, 16% by acquisition, and 4% by merger.

  • 50% expect to hire more employees over the next six months, with only 7% expecting to reduce work force.

  • 73% approve of President Bush's performance.

    According to the Grant Thornton Business Owners Council, the planning paradigm is changing among middle market business leaders.

    Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents have changed their approach to business planning in the past year. Seventy-six percent report a change in planning priorities, 61 percent are shifting the balance between short- and long-term planning, and 60 percent have changed their planning process, including who is involved and the timeframe.

    “It can be difficult for executives today to predict what the future holds for their businesses and the marketplace,” said Desmond. “This unpredictability has affected, and continues to shape, middle market companies' planning approach, process, and timeframe.”

    Publication date: 12/16/2002