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Entrepreneurial Outlook: Is 2011 the Year to Start a Business?

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Will 2011 be the year to take the plunge and start a business? Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is optimistic. He says entrepreneurs with good ideas should go for it – but proceed with caution. A short video of Epstein talking about his predictions is available: http://www.youtube.com/user/SmithBusinessSchool#p/u/2/QMF8KRe23yY

Epstein’s take for entrepreneurs in 2011:

“I’m cautiously optimistic. As entrepreneurs, we’re hard-wired to be optimistic. We see a lot of talented people out there with good ideas.”

Access to capital has improved

  • Angel investor community has gained confidence.
  • Legislation boost – extended tax cuts help investors, other legislation that could reduce capital gains tax on angel investments could spur more investments.
  • For entrepreneurs who need bank loans and credit, that continues to be a tough market, but businesses that are fundamentally sound still have opportunities for capital.
  • “Survival of the fittest” business ventures — this environment promotes more efficient lending because the capital goes to the companies that are most deserving.

What’s hot

  • Clean tech
  • Web 2.0, social media and consumer Internet companies
  • Solving the world’s problems – there’s never a shortage of them (access to basic resources, clean water, sustainable fuels, etc.)
  • Labor market – there are lots of talented people looking for work that could help you build your business

Challenges

  • Global uncertainty – debt concerns in Europe, North Korea’s nuclear threat, Iran threat, terrorist concerns, weak dollar, inflation concerned.
  • Potential for another tech bubble – too many investors chasing too few high-quality deals (twitter, groupon etc.)
  • There are always questions about where the world is headed and as an entrepreneur you constantly have to keep your eyes open for challenges and or opportunities that are out there.

Contact: Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, aepstein@rhsmith.umd.edu; 301-405-9510

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