Axial Celebrates Middle Market Monday, Reveals Perspectives of CEOs on 2015

NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Axial, the online network connecting professionals who run, advise, finance, and acquire private companies, today is celebrating the first-ever Middle Market Monday, a campaign recognizing middle market businesses and their unique needs. In a survey, over 100 middle market businesses revealed that financing, talent, and the economy are top of mind as they look to grow.

Thirty-one percent of businesses said their top concern in 2014 was talent-related, including talent acquisition, training and staff development and retention. Thirty-eight percent said securing funding was a top concern last year and 27% have made finding the right financial partner to help them grow a top priority in 2015. Twelve percent of businesses also said that expanding into new markets or customer segments was a top goal in 2015. Meanwhile, 66% of business owners believe that economic and regulatory environments will be a headwind to growth.

Businesses participated in the inaugural holiday by sharing their perspectives on Axial’s www.middlemarketmonday.com which hosts a gallery of their responses on the challenges, goals and external factors that impact their growth. Axial also released a full report of the data titled Made in the Middle: Examining the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Middle Market Business Owners in 2015 and is showcasing related data from their partners at The National Center for the Middle Market and Vistage International.

“The middle market is the most important category of the economy that no one is talking about, and it’s perhaps the most important category as we think about economic growth,” said Peter Lehrman, CEO of Axial. “We hear every day from middle market CEOs about their needs to access capital, and it’s clear that these businesses are constantly on the lookout for ways to grow. Step one is to start a conversation about their common challenges and shared priorities and encourage the capital providers, policymakers and other partners these companies rely on to recognize their unique needs. That’s why we created Middle Market Monday.”

Key data:

Access to Capital

  • 38% of middle market business owners cited the availability of funding as a major concern they had in 2014.
  • 22% of respondents described their funding concerns as an external factor that would impact growth

The Talent Gap

  • 18% said closing the talent gap was a primary goal for 2015, citing specific targets such as doubling headcount and expanding into more promising talent markets.
  • While 21% of businesses in the Midwest said talent-related concerns were one of the issues that kept them up at night in 2014, only 6% from the Northeast said the same.

Economy and Policy

  • 12% of all respondents cite oil and gas prices as an external factor that could impact growth next year. 45% of these businesses come from the Manufacturing and Energy & Utilities sectors.
  • While economic and regulatory concerns are a constant across all respondents, businesses in the midwest (93%) and south (82%) are more concerned with the potential impact of these factors on their business growth than those in the northeast (50%).
  • 38% of respondents who cited the regulatory environment as a top concern came from the Manufacturing sector.

“As the labor market tightens, retaining best-in-class employees and becoming competitive as they recruit has become a top priority among middle market business owners,” said Leon Shapiro, CEO of Vistage International, which assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives and business owners. “We expect this to be a key conversation point among business owners as they strive towards achieving their 2015 goals.”

Additional Data:

  • 20% of businesses said product development and the launch of new products is a top goal in 2015.
  • 62% of northeast businesses said that securing funding was a major concern in 2014, versus only 27% of respondents in the south.
  • 50% of Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals businesses cited the Affordable Healthcare Act and other regulation as the top external factor that could affect their business next year, compared to 31% of all respondents.
  • 12% of all companies cite expansion into new domestic or international markets as a top goal in 2015. The midwest seems is most keen to tap new markets (14%) while the south is the least (9%). Of those expansion as a top goal, over a third (36%) come from the technology and telecommunications and food and beverage industries.

About Middle Market Monday
All responses in the Middle Market Monday gallery and a full report of results can be accessed by visiting www.middlemarketmonday.com. Axial is still collecting responses from business owners at and will be sharing a secondary report with all participants in the coming weeks.

About Axial
Axial (www.axial.net) is the online network for professionals who run, advise, finance, and acquire private companies. Every week, over 200 private companies use Axial to confidentially initiate a financial transaction process. CEOs and transaction professionals join Axial to access advice and capital, build strategic relationships, and exchange opportunities. Headquartered in New York, NY, Axial is backed by First Round, Redpoint Ventures and Comcast Ventures.