Shaken and Uncertain

The latest survey to chart the psychological impact of September 11 confirms that, at least for now, optimism is in full retreat

Even entrepreneurs have lost their nerve. That's what the Trendsetter survey run by PricewaterhouseCoopers found during its third-quarter roundup of chief executives at fast-growing small companies.

The survey was conducted in September, and most of the respondents contacted before September 11 were relatively upbeat. Projections for hiring, revenue increases, and new investments were mostly steady, despite some pessimism about the economy.


  Then came the attacks. Now, a net 7% see the economy growing in the next 12 months, vs. 20% who felt that way before September 11 and 75% 12 months earlier. The CEOs downgraded their projections for revenue growth in the next 12 months to an average of 11.5%, compared to the 17.2% that was being projected at the beginning of the month.

Any of this sound familiar? If so, maybe it's because the National Federation of Independent Business reported a similar split in its survey, which also was conducted both before and after the attacks. But the Trendsetter piece noted that because CEOs were making their projections amid all the uncertainty, their gloom might be short-lived. Given the chronic optimism that usually prevails in small-biz surveys, that sounds like a safe bet.

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