What strategies will Australian CEOs be pursuing in 2010? As the globalfinancial crisis recedes, a national survey of 148 Australian CEOs shows they expect to move from survival mode to sales. 

MELBOURNE (November 25, 2009): The national membership organisation for chief executives,The CEO Institute, has released the latest business outlook survey of its members' expectationsfor the second half of FY 2010. Confidence appears to be soaring, with a marked increase since theMarch 2009 survey.

  • 71% expect their business revenue to increase in the next six months. In March 2009, 35%of CEO Institute members expected their revenue outlook to worsen in the second half of2009.
  •  20% say their revenue is highly likely to increase in the first six months of 2010.
  •  53% of CEO Institute members say economic conditions are returning to normal. 

Little gloom, no doom

Chairman & CEO of The CEO Institute, Ken Gunn, says the results confirm anecdotal evidence thatAustralian businesses have proved to be extremely resilient in the face of the global economiccrisis. Gunn says: Many people were surprised when our March 2009 survey - bang in the middleof the gloom and doom period - found CEO Institute members to be relatively upbeat about theirprospects in the second half of the year. Back then, almost a third of our members (27%) thoughttheir business outlook would improve through 2009, which seemed laughable to some at the time.Well, they have been proved right.

Now, we see more than 7 in 10 CEO Institute members expecting their revenue to increase in thefirst six months of 2010. This is a very positive result and a tribute to the collective wisdom of ourCEOs, Gunn says. When everyone else was saying 'Run for your lives!' in March, many CEOswere looking at their numbers and saying 'Wait a minute ... it's not that bad'.

Best strategy for 2010

One task stands out above all others for the CEOs surveyed: maintaining sales (46%). All otherkey factors were grouped far below the sales focus:

  • Obtaining finance: 15%
  • Motivating staff: 14%
  • Refining leadership: 14%
  • Retaining staff: 11% 

The spotlight on sales is hedged with a concern for profitability. One CEO remarked that thechallenge was our ability to meet customer demands in a profitable way. There is also cautionabout how international developments could affect the upswing in Australia. Another CEO said: Ona global basis my concern is that the US has not taken their full punishment and the world economyplunges again.

Optimism, not hedonismKen

Gunn says: Optimism about the future is tempered with a strong focus on keeping a tight reinon costs. We know from anecdotal evidence gathered when our members get together to discussand solve their specific business problems that maintaining sales profitability is a core issue. Howdo they do that? By weeding out non-performers, maximising customer service and targetingprofitable niches.

Gunn says that in the post-GFC climate, CEOs are desperate to learn how their successful peersare achieving results. This is a whole, new environment. Nothing is certain. You need someone tobounce strategies off, which is why our membership [at The CEO Institute] has blossomed. Yourbrilliant strategy may have a hole in it that only another CEO can spot and resolve.