The Entrepreneurial Elite

They helped define small business in the 1990s. Here's what they see for 2000 and beyond.


CEO of Web site iVillage Inc. on how women entrepreneurs are changing the workplace--and vice versa:

"We're seeing more flexibility to craft individual identities--to balance the various parts of life. We have people who leave at three in the afternoon for a soccer game, then work at home on the Internet at night. Women have become more efficient because there's less belief that work is the be-all and end-all of existence. At work, you get it done and get out."


Head of small-business lending at First Union, one of the biggest lenders to entrepreneurs, on borrowing:

"With the Internet, geographic lines are gone, and there's much more competition for the borrower's business. Already, we have to bid for business because of the emergence of electronic loan brokers. That's ultimately going to translate into better prices for borrowers."


Senior Lecturer at Babson College, a school devoted to entrepreneurialism, on information overload:

"Small businesses' strength has been their ability to respond quickly to the marketplace--much faster than large companies. But extra data can mean extra confusion. There's a risk of slowing down when they have to manage even more information."


Co-founder of the Internet incubator eCompanies on Net strategy:

"Everyone will be competing against each other. Five years from now, we won't be thinking of companies as Internet companies and non-Internet companies. There'll just be companies, and how effectively a company has integrated the Internet into its business will just be one of the ways we judge it."


Founder of Patricof & Co., an investment banking firm, on the future of Web business:

"There's going to be a crowding out of the companies. In the end, not that many will survive. Every business has to look at the Internet and ask, `What impact will this have on our company?' We see the Internet not as an industry in and of itself but as a tool for distribution of goods, services, and, most importantly, information."


President of the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Kansas City, Mo., on whether the small-business boom is for real:

"The interesting thing is going to be who gets hurt if we have a downturn. I believe it will have less significance for small businesses than for larger companies. That's because they're small, they're flexible, they can adapt. I don't see anything on the horizon that will change the popularity of entrepreneurship."