What's Your Outlook For 2011?

Being an entrepreneur requires a very unique set of skills -- some of which are inherent and some acquired over time. One of the most fundamental is optimism.

Which is not to say entrepreneurs are not realists -- in fact, that's a very important quality too. But embarking on the crazy journey that is starting your own business, with all the peaks and valleys that come with it, is made a lot easier with an above-average level of optimism. As our friend Tate Chalk, the founder and CEO of Nfinity, recently tweeted, "Can you call yourself one if you are not? I thought optimistic and resolute were the top 2 characteristics?" We couldn't agree more.

So when we asked the rest of our Board of Directors for their outlook on the year ahead, it wasn't all that surprising that they expect 2011 to be a pretty good year. Some shared their thoughts on the world at large, some highlighted upcoming trends in their industries and some raised red flags about risks to come. But the overwhelming theme, for most of our group, remains positivity and optimism. Sure, there will be inevitable bumps and setbacks that come with digging out of a deep global recession, but if anyone can lead the way, it's entrepreneurs.

Here's to a great 2011!

Sir Richard Branson

Founder and President, Virgin Group

"Dr. Yes"

"As far as optimism is concerned, I think its up to businesses all over America and around the world to bring about that optimism. We've got to invest our monies in new projects that create jobs and dig ourselves out of this hole, with far too many people being out of work."

Clint Greenleaf

Founder And CEO, Greenleaf Book Group

"The Cowboy"

"I think the economy will continue to improve very slowly and joblessly. Gridlock in Washington will probably help, as will the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) buying more of our goods. If we can avoid any big blow-ups in 2011, it'll set the table well for a more robust recovery with jobs in 2012."

Dylan Lauren

Founder, Dylan's Candy Bar

"Candy Girl"

"While I believe candy will remain an extremely popular treat for years to come, healthy candies -- dark chocolate and candies rich in electrolytes, antioxidants and allergen-free ingredients -- will grow even more popular. So will eco-friendly packaging."

Tate Chalk

Founder And CEO, Nfinity

"The Matador"

"I believe, like most entrepreneurs, that 2011 is going to be rockin'! Three-quarters of our markets are maturing, all of my staff are seasoned, cash flow is in line with where it should be and we came out of the last two years all the wiser and better for it. For the country, I think we are moving toward balance, which is where our Founding Fathers intended us to be. I personally can't wait. I love how life is totally unexpected."

Phil Town

Investor And Author Of Rule #1 And Payback Time


"I think we've got a wild year ahead of us in 2011. The Fed is filling a big hole and keeping us afloat with debt and more debt, but we have to pay the price eventually for all that excess spending we've been doing for decades. The price we are going to pay in 2011 is high unemployment, rising mortgage rates, lower real estate prices and inflation of real goods prices and a lower stock market. Even bonds are going to have a problem: People who recently bought long-term T-Bills are going to have to keep them to maturity because their value is going to be cut in half.

"On taxes, the payers are going to fight back harder in 2011 than they ever have and the result is going to be a very healthy national debate about the wisdom of making the needs of citizens the function of the federal government. The IRS is going to be ever more unpopular as the enforcers try to make up the deficit. This will bring more people around to the concept of a national consumption tax, the elimination of the income tax and repeal of the 16th Amendment. You heard it first here. Also, no surprise here, as a nation we will be fatter in 2011 than we ever were. Last but not least, the Yankees are going to win the World Series, but no one is going to care.

"All that said, let's have a great new year in spite of all the craziness. And don't forget to shower your family with love all year long."

The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 12/30/10.