The End of Entrepreneurship as We Know It?

Yeah, dotcoms have made the venture capital market volatile; sure, corporate employees are offered entrepreneur-esque development opportunities; but if I recall, we got into this game to take the risk and own our own businesses!

Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2000. Time: 8:00 a.m. Like many business owners, you've seen the headlines on CNBC or in your local paper's business section and your stomach churns as young dotcom companies take a beating on the NASDAQ exchange. Any business owner knows what deep corrections in the stock market mean for young companies. Venture capital dries up. Frustrated sellers, unable to unload shares, stop buying stock in companies like yours. Consumers resist the urge to pull the old Visas out of their wallets and buy your products. Inventories pile up, cash gets tight and pink slips appear on staffers' desks. At times like these, owning a business ranks right up there with root canals and tax audits on the list of life's undesirables.

In fact, it makes getting out look pretty good. These days, many companies tired of losing workers to the entrepreneurial life are encouraging free-thinking employees to implement their marketplace ideas inside rather than outside corporations. That trend, coupled with flextime, ample opportunities for stock options and other entrepreneurial perks for employees, is bringing some entrepreneurs back to the corporate fold.

"Why not consider going back to work for someone else if they're offering you significantly more freedom and money than you ever had in the corporate world before, and they're the ones taking all the risk?" says Ethan Winning, author of Labor Pains: Employer and Employee Rights and Obligations (TFM Publications).

Still, most entrepreneurs are resisting the siren song of corporate life. "Who can think about leaving when there's so much to do?" asks Roger W. Sigley, 35, president and CEO of Cybertech Group Inc., an Oxon Hill, Maryland-based computer support services company. "My [entrepreneurial] experience has exceeded my expectations, but there are still things we have to accomplish as a new firm. We've only scratched the surface of our goals."

Running the show is why Sigley decided to gather $50,000 worth of funding back in 1998 and go into business for himself. "I wanted the ability to effect significant change, not only for myself and my family, but for my employees," he says. "To do these things, you have to be the one calling the shots."

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The End of Entrepreneurship as We Know It?.

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