Recently, one of our customer service representatives took an order for a subscription to Entrepreneur's HomeOffice and, in doing so, attempted to enter the credit card expiration date 5/31/00. "Card has expired" flashed across the computer screen as the order-taker sat there, stumped. That little flashing warning was as ominous as the Jaws theme song ever was.
It was our first personal encounter with the Y2K problem.
About a year ago, when we first heard the term Y2K, we scoffed. Already tired of millennium hype, we thought the term silly and condescending, a hip/nerdy marketing ploy, a born cliché. We tested people we knew: "Y2K--what do you think that means?" People groaned when we told them.
Then came the Y2K computer scare, and we started to take matters a little more seriously. Usually, when publications addressed the Y2K problem, they indicated sweeping, earth-shattering, tidal wave-type ramifications. As objective as journalists are supposed to be, readers could detect an undercurrent of hysteria.
Originally, we put staff writer G. David Doran on the case, assigning him to write a short news blurb on how the Y2K computer problem would affect homebased business owners. He came back a week later in partial shock, pledging to leave the country for Haiti. David may sometimes lean toward the melodramatic, but there was true fear in his eyes. "This is big," he said.
We agreed. David's article, "Crash Landing" on page 48, points out that homebased business owners are far from safe in this whole Y2K fiasco. Working from home, you may feel isolated, but you're actually very, very connected. These connections, linking you to everything from government agencies and public utility companies to your customers and suppliers, could potentially come crashing down like a house of hard drives. But lest we be accused of jumping on the gloom-and-doom bandwagon, we also provide some practical tips for emerging at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000, relatively unscathed.
After all this, we've finally come to grips with Y2K. Our motto (which you can borrow) is "Expect the best . . . prepare for the worst."