By M&M, Y2K, 2000

The Millennium is here. The 1900s are gone forever, and the 2000s are upon us.

The Millennium is here. The 1900s are gone forever, and the 2000s are upon us. The party's over and the 21st century has begun. Now it's back to business. And business will be the all-encompassing envelope under which life-as-we-know-it will take shape this century. Just as the 18th century was known as the Revolutionary Age, the 19th century was known as the Industrial Age, the 20th century as the Information Age, the 21st century will be known as the Business Age. But business will be defined broadly as "E-commerce" where the "E" stands for Entrepreneur. These revolutionaries aren't factory-running capitalists, they're entrepreneurs running corporations from their desktops.

The battle for gifted, smart and talented personnel in this Age of Entrepreneurial Commerce will take place first in the inner-sanctum boardroom bunkers and in the corporate cubicle trenches of the organization's offices and workplaces. Brief raids conducted by rival companies and their headhunters are picking off their competitors' most talented personnel, and those companies are often unsuspecting that they've been thrashed and mugged. In the next few years of the 21st century, the corporate raids will turn to open warfare on a global scale.

If recruiting and retaining talented people is the most important corporate endeavor for the 21st century, labor is ironically the hidden cache in shortest supply. The constant search for the "best and the brightest" is a wasteful battle, a brawl with no final triumph.

In the 21st century, the new entrepreneurial economy will have four hinges: global competition; ample capital; expeditions and low cost product ideas and enhancements; and people willing and able to change jobs frequently and without hesitation.

What are these people looking for? A great job to challenge their personal and social needs; a great company that's well managed; great values that permeate the bureaucracy; and a great culture that encourages friendship and team-building.

Where do you find these people? Encourage them to find you! And they will. Especially when referred by one of your top performers (who, incidentally, you should reward monetarily if you hire their referral).

How do you retain them? Truthful answer, you probably can't.

In the 21st century, there will be no such thing as lifetime employees. The new expectation is lifetime alliance. Disregard such terms as "ex-employees," "former employees" and "former colleagues." The new business designation is "alumni." Reject your old reasoning about who works for you and how. The day someone steps out the door does not mean the alliance expires.

The real goal is to keep great people working with you, even after they have stopped working for you.