US Middle Market Business Owners Survey

Capstone’s First Quarterly Middle Market Business Owners Research Survey Finds CEOs Optimistic for Future Economic & Revenue Growth

Capstone Partners released its first quarterly Middle Market Business Owners Survey Report, with insights from privately-owned companies across the U.S. This report combines Capstone’s in-depth middle market expertise with proprietary data obtained from 380 participating owners of privately held, middle market companies. Capstone surveyed middle market business owners across industries in the U.S. between July 13, 2021 and August 13, 2021. The full report, available for download below, evaluates the health and recovery of the middle market in Q2, with sections including 1). Current Business Challenges, 2). Strategies & Initiatives, and 3). Revenue Impacts, Forecasts, & Economic Outlook. The report also reveals data by industry, highlighting statistically significant variances across sectors.

Key findings:

Middle Market Companies Seek Further Recovery

Despite the rollout of vaccines and easing government restrictions, many middle market companies continued to be afflicted by COVID-exacerbated challenges in Q2 2021 including supply chain disruptions (32.1%), workforce shortages (28.7%), and economic uncertainties (12.9%). In fact, only 5.8% of middle market business owners reported not facing any issues in Q2, exemplifying the need for further recovery.

Supply Chain Disruptions Pose Key Threat  

Business leaders across all industries were most significantly challenged by supply chain disruptions in Q2, apart from Technology, Media, & Telecom (TMT) providers who were the least impacted by supply chain disruptions (10.9%). Among those business owners that experienced disruptions in Q2, 80.3% noted that materials availability was the leading issue, followed by rising input prices (59.0%), port congestion (52.5%), and trucking bottlenecks (45.1%). With the ongoing pandemic, fundamental changes in consumer behavior, and shifting routes to market, business owners will be forced to adopt new methods to increase supply chain visibility. Although COVID-19 is a unique case study, it has underscored the fragility of current supply chains.

How Supply Chains are Disrupting Business Models

how supply chains are disrupting business models
Question: What supply chain disruptions has your company faced over the past three months? Select all that apply. Source: Capstone Partners’ Middle Market Business Owner Survey, Sample Size (N): 122

Nearly One-Fourth of Business Owners Planned to Engage In a Q3 Merger or Acquisition

Business owners reported that their top priority for Q3 would be to fortify growth strategies (59.5%), both organic and inorganic, to enter new markets, to expand offerings, and to bolster sales efforts. Driven by the normalization of earnings, the prospect of capital gains tax increases, and the accommodative borrowing environment, 23.5% of business owners plan to engage in acquisitions in Q3. As a result, Capstone expects a continuation of the robust merger and acquisition (M&A) activity witnessed in Q2, which increased 31% year-over-year, according to Capstone’s Q2 Capital Markets Update.

Growth Strategies Top Focus for Owners Looking Ahead

growth strategies top focus for owners looking ahead
Question: Which of the following growth strategies are most important to prioritize over the next three months? Select all that apply. Source: Capstone Partners’ Middle Market Business Owner Survey, Sample Size (N): 226

Business Owners Expect Conditions to Normalize Between Months and Two Years

Despite industry growth, economic confidence, and vaccination rollouts, middle market founders and entrepreneurs are not expecting an immediate normalization of the business environment. Notably,  21.8% of business owners expect conditions to normalize in seven to 12 months and 23.7% predict one to two years. The forecasts for returning to “normal” business conditions are heavily dependent on the industry and whether COVID-19 battered or accelerated demand for the products and services offered.

Return to “Normal” Expected in 1-2 Years

return to normal expected by 2022
Question: Within your industry, when do you expect business conditions to return to pre-COVID-19 performance levels? Source: Capstone Partners’ Middle Market Business Owner Survey, Sample Size (N): 380

Request instant access to the full report including more detail on the challenges, recovery tactics, and leading Q3 initiatives broken down by industry:

Q2 2021 US Middle Market Business Owner Survey


Make your voice heard in our Q3 survey and get access to the results. If you are the owner of a privately-held company in the United States, we kindly ask you to volunteer for our study.

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