Taking Care of Business

With the sour economy weighing on corporate leaders' minds, a new survey shows they are focusing on nuts-and-bolts issues

The shaky economy is not the only thing on the minds of CEOs at fast-growth companies. They're also heavily focused on marketing, product development, and customer service, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers released Aug. 21.

The so-called queries CEOs of 427 companies identified as the fastest growing U.S. businesses during the last five years. When asked to identify the single most important issue their business faces in the year ahead, 24% named the soft economy. But almost as many -- 19% -- cited marketing and sales projects, including new product development, customer service, and advertising. Another 18% said managing growth, including company reorganization, was the biggest issue.

"While one in four of these CEOs sees the economy as their No. 1 issue, many others appear proactively focused on critical aspects of their business, seeking to maintain a positive momentum even in these tough times," says Paul E. Weaver, PriceaterhouseCoopers' global technology industry leader. "It is noteworthy that so many remain so focused -- apparently undaunted while operating in daunting times," he said.

"Trendsetter Barometer" survey results

The single most-important issues:
1.   Economy / Demand   24%
2.   Marketing & Sales   19%
3.   Managing Growth   18%
4.   Financial   15%
5.   Internal Management   12%
6.   Hiring   10%
7.   External Forces   7%
8.   Mergers & Acquisitions   4%
Note: Total exceeds 100% because of rounding and several multiple answers.

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