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And for Our Next Act . . .

Five years ago in this column, I gave you the lowdown on the first 20 years of Entrepreneur's history. The past hasn't changed, so I won't repeat it here. I'd rather look ahead, because, as the Fleetwood Mac tune goes, I can't "stop thinking about tomorrow." (Sorry. I'm a baby boomer. I can't help it.)

As entrepreneurs, that's something you all should be doing: thinking about tomorrow. What's next? For you? For your business? For our nation? The answers to all those questions lie with you. Sorry to dump all that responsibility on your head, but it's the truth. By now, you know the drill: You create the jobs, you employ nearly half the nation, you generate more than half the gross domestic product. And what do you get in return?

Up till now, not a whole hell of a lot. In January, the Democrats on the House Small Business Committee issued a report calling for help for the nation's entrepreneurs. In March, President Bush issued his plan to help small businesses grow. Many of the objectives are the same. I interpret that (in my own Pollyanna way) as proof that many of the issues that affect you have bipartisan support. I hope some things will have already been put in place by the time you read these words. If not, then it's up to you to do something. You didn't get where you are by sitting back, waiting for things to happen. You made them happen. That's what entrepreneurs do-to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, if you don't find the circumstances you want, you create them.

So it's time, it's way past time, to create better circumstances. Not only for you, but for the entrepreneurs who will follow in your footsteps. For several years, we've heard ad nauseum about the birth of the New Economy. Then about the death of the New Economy. The truth is, the so-called New Economy wasn't all that new. The principles were the same ones that forged the Industrial Revolution. It was an entrepreneurial economy that blossomed in the '90s, and it ain't dead.

Entrepreneur remains an independent magazine, in a world where the independents are either folding or being gobbled up by behemoths (our competitors are owned by two of the world's largest media corporations). Our entire industry had a rough year. Ours was a bit less rough than most. Our competitors like to put their own spin on who you are (and believe me, you wouldn't like what they say about you). Many think the independents can't make it on their own. But they're wrong. We're proof of that. More business owners read Entrepreneur than any other monthly business magazine. Our crack sales staff sold more ads last year (that's how magazines pay the bills) than any other business monthly. And we outsell our competitors on the newsstand (a good sign of a magazine's vitality) by at least four to one.

Twenty-five years ago, we were ahead of our time. Few knew or cared what an entrepreneur was in 1977. Today everyone knows. And everyone says they care. We know you because we are you. We don't have deep pockets to keep us going. We get by with grit and guts and passion. Our employees do more with less, because we work for a man, not a conglomerate. We know what you're going through, because we're going through it, too. We have survived, and we will thrive. So will you. There's something about entrepreneurs. Like Jim McCann, the brilliant entrepreneur who founded 1-800 Flowers, said: "Entrepreneurs are like Weebles (the toy so many of us grew up with). And remember, Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down."

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This article was originally published in the May 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: And for Our Next Act . . ..

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