Oh, no! The words hit you at 3:11 a.m., followed by the thought: The new millennium is almost here! I was going to have my life completely together by December 31, 1999. I was going to have achieved economic world domination. Bill Gates was going to be reduced to hand-washing my cars. I was going to give Belgium to my spouse as an anniversary gift. But instead, I hardly know what my inventory is, I don't have a budget surplus, my dog has fleas, my tires need to be rotated . . .
Stop hyperventilating. If you own a business--even if you're just thinking about running your own business--you're already ahead of the game. We're now entering the Entrepreneurial Age, according to . . . well, just about everybody. For starters, Ernst & Young LLP recently completed a survey that found 78 percent of influential Americans believe entrepreneurship will be the defining trend of the 21st century.
Futurist Gerald Celente also sees an abundance of entrepreneurial opportunities ahead: "Imagine if you filled a hole with boulders. There are spaces between the boulders. The large boulders are the corporations, and the spaces are the opportunities." Smaller companies, says Celente, will wedge themselves into the spaces mammoth-sized corporations can't.
More to the point, Thomas Petzinger, a Wall Street Journal columnist and author of The New Pioneers (Simon & Schuster), believes, "Everyone will have to be an entrepreneur in the future."
All of this begs an intriguing question. If everybody's an entrepreneur, who will take your order the next time you're at McDonald's? And more important: As we face the future, what will the entrepreneurs of the new millennium be like?
Geoff Williams is in no hurry to see the new millennium--that's when he turns the big 3-0. This is Williams' second cover story for Entrepreneur. He also frequently writes for Business Start-Ups and The Cincinnati Post. His first feature in LIFE magazine is scheduled to run this month.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.