It's nearly 2001, and we have yet to see a work force overrun by androids, Disney-"imagineered" transportation that actually works, or middle-class living quarters that do everything for us at the touch of a stainless-steel button. But we do have that blessed Internet, which, according to the various marketing, financial, tech and pop culture experts we spoke with, can boost the bottom line and ease daily burdens for most entrepreneurs-if it's used properly. As the cost of technology dips, making it more accessible to more Americans, the vastness of the sea consumers must swim through grows with every new domain name. That means the impressions entrepreneurs make need to be more persuasive-and building loyalty from the start is imperative. You can't deny Internet speed. What's "in" will come and go-so quickly, in fact, that if you don't keep your eyes peeled and your ears wide open to catch that ever-important buzz, you might just miss it altogether. The next few pages are chock-full of 2001 chatter from trusted authorities on everything the modern entrepreneur should be up on. Now get out that PDA and take some notes...
CEO of Garage.com, an online venture financing company that helps early-stage tech start-ups, and author of Rules for Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services (HarperCollins)
I see a return to the 3 Cs of the Internet-commerce, content and community. Right now, B2C and B2B are somewhat cold, and infrastructure and tools are hot. But at some point, the infrastructure and the tools will be there. Then, it'll be like, "We have this great, big, wonderful pipe all over the world. We've got to [put] stuff through it." Commerce is fairly obvious. Content-there'll be a providing of information, and people will [design] an economic model using something more sophisticated than selling advertising . . . maybe paid subscriptions or affiliation fees. Community-groups of senior citizens, parents, etc.-these communities will develop. They've been developing, though it's not a hot segment right now. [In 2001,] it'll resurface.
Professor of marketing at Harvard Business School
Many markets in Eastern Europe, what was part of the earlier Communist bloc, and several markets in the Far East and Asia have only recently opened up to importing products and starting joint ventures with Western companies. Traditionally, companies from the West sold older-generation products and systems to these markets. Now, many of these countries are saying they want tomorrow today-they're interested in the very latest available technologies.
A second major trend is the rise of "born globals." Traditionally, there was a four-stage development to becoming global. Today, companies are saying from Day One they're interested in being international. And, of course, having an Internet-based business model facilitates this. I'd call those "mega-global" trends. They're going to affect all kinds of firms-not only the Davids but the Goliaths-from today's large manufacturing enterprises to tomorrow's dotcoms.
Ken and Daria Dolan
Hosts of The Dolans, a nationally syndicated personal-finance call-in radio show heard in nearly 200 markets across the United States and Canada
An overdue recession should start sometime in 2001, possibly during the second quarter. This will be the death knell for various dotcoms that have been burning through cash on hand with no earnings in sight.
Business inventories, which began rising in the summer of 2000, will continue to slow the profit picture for many of the "old economy" stocks. Consumers will continue to slow their purchasing of goods and services.
All of this should make the stock market very edgy and open up a window of better buying opportunities in selected stocks than we've seen in the past two years.
Smart investors, who have patiently waited on the sidelines with cash through most of 2000, will be rewarded for their patience.
Senior analyst at Internet research firm Jupiter Research
In 2001, the divide between small-business "have and have-nots" will continue to diminish as bandwidth increases and prices of computer hardware and access become increasingly compelling. [Entrepreneurs] new to the Internet will migrate to the easiest activities, such as purchasing office supplies, while more sophisticated users will begin managing more of their business activities online. Web site creation and hosting offerings will become commodified and commonplace for both retail and service-based businesses. These offerings will continue to more directly fulfill the promise of new sales and new customers; initial offerings have evolved from simply a Web site offering to the inclusion of basic marketing tools, such as search engine submission and e-mail list purchasing.
By the end of 2001, successful Web site providers will help fulfill their promise of new sales for small-business owners by not only providing the platforms and the tools, but also bringing buyers of all types-consumers, small businesses, large businesses and the government-directly to the sites.
Director of small-business practices at Cyber Dialogue, an Internet customer relationship management company
We see financial services overall as the biggest growth area. Banking, bill paying and payroll are the industries that will pop next. And this is all being driven by the Net. [Online] banking and bill paying will go up by 22 percent, online accounting using ASPs will grow by 21 percent, and payroll will jump by 25 percent. There are currently an estimated 633,000 users of online banking and bill paying vs. 217,000 for payroll services. Typically, the larger the business and employee base, the more likely the company is to employ one of these services.
Co-editor/co-publisher of Paper, a pop culture magazine
Because of the Internet and the gentrification of our cities, the underground and the trends that come out of it are kind of in trouble all around because of the speed at which trends get absorbed and spit out. Now you're going to have to look for stuff in different places. There are still creative underground cultures and communities coming up all over-in places you wouldn't necessarily expect them to. There's a crack somewhere, and if you look into that crack, that's where you're going to find the new petri dish of creativity.
Senior business analyst at The Conference Board, a think tank for market-place knowledge
For 2001, consumer spending will be excellent. It might be a little slower than 2000 and 1999, but I can't see it going down to any extent because sky-high is sky-high.
Right now there is really no weakness in the country. That's one of the major differences in this period of enormous prosperity.
There will be more and more clutter, making it harder for entrepreneurs to make an impression.
Ideas will spread from person to person much faster than they will from marketer to consumer.
Managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, an early-stage venture capital firm
We see a spectrum of markets emerging in 2001. Expect to see the migration of the network toward an all-optical infrastructure, with more young networking companies bursting onto the scene.
Also, look for more companies living on the network's edge: providing E2E (edge-to-edge) services (next-generation Akamai) and using distributed networking technology-like Napster but for useful business purposes-to relieve network constraints and enable better services for end users, such as streaming video, audio, instant-on and wireless alert services.
Wireless will continue to blossom, as services you never dreamed you needed will find you through your Palm Pilot or cell phone.
To use a baseball analogy, we're still in the bottom of the 3rd in this revolutionary period sparked by the Internet's emergence in 1995. 2001 will provide some exciting new companies to watch and be part of.
Managing director of Arba Seed Investment Group and writer of Davenetics.com, a daily Internet newsletter for Web professionals
In the second half of 2000, investors took some time to recover from the dotcom shakeout and, in the process, chased after a few new sectors. In 2001, the focus will narrow to the one area that has shown value for decades and has been at the core of the Internet revolution: software. Few investors will be willing to bet on a brand play or a consumer-facing business that has no clear advantages. But one thing is for sure: The Internet is growing, and as it does, software-makers will be in the best position, regardless of the individual sites that win or lose.
Anchor of CNBC's Market Week
I see a number of growth areas. One is international investing. Consumers in Europe and Asia are a few steps behind the United States in terms of investing. There is increasingly more foreign money coming into the U.S. stock market. That will slowly but surely continue as people put their money in stocks, rather than saving in pension funds.
The other thing is Wall Street business. I think we're going to see more global business deals. Competition will continue heating up for scale and strength on a global basis, and mergers will come from across borders.
As for investing specifics, the need for electricity is going to surge. Utilities and electricity stocks will be in the spotlight. As you see the explosion of information, the Internet and wireless devices, we're going to need electricity. You're already seeing blackouts and brownouts in California.
Host of CNNfn's Entrepreneurs Only show
When I was a boy in the Bronx, my mother taught me the essentials of entrepreneurship, though neither she nor I knew it. You didn't hear much about entrepreneurs at a time when the transistor was the definition of high-tech.
In fact, I'm sure the word "entrepreneur" never passed my mother's lips; ten-dollar words were strangers in our two-dollar household. Her teachings arose from her assessment of her brothers, six of them, and their abilities to make a living. My mother was not kind about my uncles' skills; she thought they were lazy.
All except Joe. Uncle Joe was different. Joe was a "go-getter," my mother would say with a broad, approving smile. At first I wondered where he would go and what he would get, but later it became evident that a "go-getter" was what you wanted to be.
If Uncle Joe were still around, I'd book him on Entrepreneurs Only. His story is as timely as tomorrow. The Uncle Joes of then and now seize opportunity where they see it, and if they don't see it, they create it.
The United Nations says that within 10 years, fully one-third of the world's population will be 30 or younger. You don't have to be young to be an entrepreneur, but it helps. And those UN numbers tell me that in terms of ideas for new products, businesses and services, we ain't seen nothin' yet.
That's because much of what will dazzle us in the years ahead will be the products of technologies that are still pipe dreams. They say we'll have computers so tiny they can be sewn into our clothing. They say the DNA of salmon might lead to computer chips so sophisticated that today's chips will seem like subway tokens.
'Tis a brave new world that has such go-getters in it. Uncle Joe would have loved to see it.
Editor in chief of Teen magazine (with the Teen magazine editors)
Being instantly connected to their friends and social community is a priority in teens' lives. New technology being offered at a rapid-fire pace makes all this easier. So wireless gadgets, cell phones and the Internet will become even more common essential tools and toys.
In a larger sense, teens are driving computer technology as well as inventing it. Teens fueled the P2P [person-to-person] sites like Napster and Gnutella; they're the primary users of MP3. From a generation that grew up totally wired, expect more inventions and a major influence over the look, feel and coolness of the newest products.
Teen predicts a backlash against boy bands and fake celebs and sees teens choosing reality-based entertainment even more extreme than Survivor and Real World. Expect to see more reality series with Web connections, even an all-reality cable channel.
Teen girls will participate more in sports, and more superstar girls will emerge like the Williams sisters and Mia Hamm have. Extreme sports will continue to be popular. From all this, teen-based sportswear and gear will be huge. We'll be seeing trainers in metallic colors, and Roxy Girl and other West-Coast-based sportswear manufacturers will hit it even bigger.
Accessories will dominate clothing trends: hair accessories, bracelets, earrings, belts with rhinestones, sequins and faux animal prints. Also, do-it-yourself for teens is huge for accessories, apparel and room dÃ©cor.
Teens will become even more powerful consumers, making purchasing de-cisions and being catered to by the most sophisticated marketers. But behind all this lie many of the same core issues, like: "How can I make this zit go away?" "Will this guy/girl ever like me?" That's the teen in 2001.
Elaine S. Peck
Business consultant and co-author of The Psychic Next Door
2001 will be a magnificent year for business, particularly if you've been in business for at least five years. As the Age of Aquarius and the millennium finally truly dawn, this will be a spiritual year and one [in which] the world as we know it will change.
In business, it's time to clean out what's not important anymore. 2001 is a "3" year, with a lot of emphasis on family and spirituality. This is the time to add balance to your life. And trust your gut when making decisions. Three is the number of success and abundance, so prosperity will reign.
There will be many opportunities coming in 2001, but first you should learn from your past mistakes. Dotcoms-those that survive-will be on stronger ground.
In 2001, fear and doubt will lose you everything. It's a no-fear year.
Hiring and retaining good people [will be critical in 2001]. The role of managers will be more important than others because the number-one indicator of job satisfaction is the relationship people have with their bosses. I think, more than ever before, people want to work for servant leaders. Servant leaders [aren't] trying to please everybody. The servant leader is trying to please the mission and the values of the organization. They see that their main reason for leading is to serve-not to maintain their position. There are too many self-serving leaders, [whose] main goal is to [keep] their position and power and control. That's not going to fly anymore. Particularly with the Generation Y people coming into the work force. They watched their parents remain loyal to companies and get screwed. These kids are coming from a whole different approach to organizations. So the whole "my way or the highway" [style of management] is completely out.
CEO of FirstMatter, a company providing consulting, scenario and strategic planning and marketing research (With Ryan Matthews, futurist at FirstMatter)
As we see it, there are three driving business trends ahead for 2001. First, there is a pronounced trend toward an autocatalytic economy, meaning an economy that is running itself without too much of an assist or even a nod to traditional economic factors. As a result, continued economic growth is almost guaranteed, despite such factors as the vagaries of the November elections, the fervid imaginings of Wall Street day traders and so on.
The second major business trend surrounds branding and two branding-centric phenomena: the emergence of so-called megabrands and, in particular, the emergence of megabrands that either didn't exist until recently or were second- or third-class brands until recently. The driver of these related brand issues is clearly the Internet, which has the ability to create instant megabrands (at least in terms of service brands) almost overnight. What it once took an Amazon.com a year to do can be done by a Napster in a matter of months.
And, speaking of Napster, our third trend concerns the ongoing debate between those who favor no limits to Internet privacy and those who seek to create wealth out of intellectual property. We're just starting to see the whitecaps of a tsunami that threatens to drown the business world. Those whitecaps have come not just in the form of Napster, but in Amazon's public announcement of a new "privacy" policy that will allow it to sell its customer list. This battle won't be resolved in a day, but we're betting business fortunes will be won and lost depending on how agile one is in guessing the winner.
Founder and director of The Webby Awards, an annual Web site awards ceremony
Services and television: I think those are going to be two real growth areas. We're really going to start seeing integration of television and the Internet. It won't be sites just saying what the programming is; it'll be actual interactive experience.
[There will also be a] redistribution of weight and design from the actual Web site to the user, so the Web sites become more like blueprints. The users know how to use the Web now and they understand what they get out of it, and designers and developers are relying on the user's ability to use the Web. So it becomes more a blueprint for the users to create the Web site. Instead of something precreated, with the users clicking in, it's much more the users creating their experience.
I think people have heard about [the Web] a lot, and they're going to understand how it's changing the way they live. Service Web sites will grow and affect the way people live. Entertainment sites will be used more. People are going to know the people behind the Web a lot more, so that just as they're getting [Web browser] "Favorites," they're going to care more about the people that make those sites.
Author of Who Moved My Cheese? (Putnam)
What's changing is the speed of change. I see it accelerating. It sounds funny, but I think we'll look back on the year 2000 and think, Wasn't that a wonderfully, peacefully slow-moving year? I think the major challenge in the 21st century will be not only to adapt to change but to enjoy change and view it in such a way that it works to your advantage.
The other half of that coin is to keep things in balance and slow down a bit and ask ourselves, Is this change really necessary? I think the best managers [will] be those who quickly adapt to major changes and [who] balance that with thinking things through-realizing that all change is not good. Knowing when to change and when not to will call for good judgment, and those who have it will win in the 21st century.
Rieva Lesonsky, Janean Chun, Cynthia E. Griffin, Michelle Prather, Amanda C. Kooser, Nichole L. Torres and Peter Kooiman contributed to this article.
For reprints and licensing questions, click here.