The Best of Inc. 2010

A look at the most popular articles, news items, and columns from the editors of Inc. magazine.
GREATEST HITS: They not only built outstanding fast-growing small companies, but our readers love them too. From left, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Jerry Murrell of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Lani Hay of Lanmark Technology, and Nick Sarillo of Nick's Pizza & Pub.
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Here's a look at the year's greatest hits from Inc. magazine and Inc.com. Rankings are based on Inc.com and social media traffic, as well as from reader feedback. It's some of our finest work, as judged by you, our readers.

Top Profiles and Articles | Top 10 Slideshows | Top Columns
Top 10 News Stories
| Top 10 Topics | Popular Tools
Popular Twitter Messages | Most Popular Online Features

 

The Top 10 Profiles and Articles

1. How I Did It: Jerry Murrell, Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Along with his sons, Jerry Murrell of Five Guys Burgers and Fries built a 570-store chain that enjoys a cult following. This classic How I Did It was a hit with fans of the burger chain, which was also one of our Breakout Companies of 2010.  Read more.

2. Why I Sold Zappos

An account by Tony Hsieh, who built his online shoe retailer into an e-commerce powerhouse. But with credit tightening and investors eyeing the exits, Hsieh was forced to ask: Was selling Zappos really the only way to save it? Read more.

3. The Case, and the Plan, for the Virtual Company

This feature was the culmination of a month-long experiment in which Inc. editors temporarily ditched the office. Senior writer Max Chafkin writes: "It is a little bit crazy, but it also just might be the future of work. So we tried it. What follows is what we learned—the why, the how, and the why not of going virtual." Read more.

Sidebar: The Best Collaboration Tools | Sidebar: Technology for the Virtual CEO

4. How Google Cost Me $4 Million

As part of our Inc. 500 | 5000 issue, Ryan Abood told Nitasha Tiku how he woke up one day to find his New Hampshire company, GourmetGiftBaskets.com, banished from Google search results. Here's how it made his company stronger. Read more

5. The Way I Work: Michael Arrington of TechCrunch

Michael Arrington loves breaking tech stories, but he's not big on PR people, conversational niceties, or sunlight. He told Liz Welch about style of building his company, which boasts annual revenue of about $10 million. Read more.

6. Meet America's Fastest Growing Company

Imagine trying to live up to the legacy Jere Thompson Jr.—whose grandfather Joe Thompson started the iconic 7-Eleven chain in 1927—faces every day. But the younger Thompson has been establishing an impressive track record of his own by building a company that sells electricity and natural gas in deregulated energy markets. It's No. 1 on the 2010 Inc. 500 list. Read more.

7. The Way I Work: Lani Hay of Lanmark Technology

Lani Hay's life sound as if it were straight out of an action movie. She has served as an intelligence officer and aviator in the Navy; she has worked at the Pentagon; and she hosts dinner parties attended by senators and movie stars. She's 35. She told her story to Liz Welch. Read more.

8. Lessons From a Blue-Collar Millionaire

When Nick Sarillo launched his pizza business, he had one goal in mind: to create a corporate culture unlike any he had seen. It involves educating employees about what it takes for the company to be successful, then trusting them to act accordingly. Bo Burlingham tells his story. Read more.

9. You've Been Yelped 

Yelp, the rambunctious customer-review site, can make or break a small business. It can also drive a business owner slightly insane. We dove in. Read more.

10. A Special Report: Revitalizing the American Dream

Bring on the Entrepreneurs! This series of articles by Adam Bluestein and Amy Barrett proposes a blueprint for a more dynamic economy based on increased entrepreneurship. Ideas on rethinking business school, taxes for investors, and incentives for start-ups. Read more.

The Top 10 Slideshows

1. 4 New Killer Sales Apps

2. 7 Start-up Success Stories

3. The Best Industries For Starting a Business Right Now

4. 9 Businesses You Can Start In Your Pajamas in 2010

5. The Many Identities of Elon Musk

6. 8 Types of People That Belong on Twitter

7. The 2010 Inc. 5000's Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs

8. Sales Tips from the World's Toughest Customers

9. 10 Perks We Love

10. Meet 30 Cool Young Entrepreneurs


The Top Columns, by Columnist

Norm Brodsky | Street Smarts

Keeping Your Business Concept Simple
When you offer a number of different services, building an easy-to-understand brand can be tricky.

A Little Self-Promotion Never Hurts
How to get the word out about your new business.

Jason Fried | Get Real

Why Business Writing is So Awful
Nearly every company relies on the written word to woo customers. So why is most business writing so numbingly banal?

How to Kill a Bad Idea
Why "no" is the most important word an entrepreneur can learn.

Meg Cadoux Hirshberg | Balancing Acts

Minding the Kids
For better or worse, your children are deeply involved in your business. Stop feeling guilty about it, and start inviting your kids into your work life.

My Husband's Next Business
The four words an entrepreneur's spouse dreads hearing: "I have an idea."

Joel Spolsky | How Hard Could It Be?

Let's Take This Offline
A decade ago, I started Joel on Software, a blog that put my company on the map. But as the business matures, I've come to realize that blogging is holding me back.

A Little Less Conversation
Have you ever invited employees to a meeting just so they wouldn't feel left out? If so, you may be an overcommunicator.

Leigh Buchanan | The Office

8 Work-From-Home Rules
After working from home for the past four years, Buchanan shares her advice with entrepreneurs (as well as her newly-virtual colleagues) on how to do it right.

Org Chart Innovation
Is your company looking to add a few fun titles to the org chart? Here are some that you should consider adopting.


Most Popular Online Features

1. Shaking America By Storm
Interview with Johann Verheem, the man who invented the Shake Weight.

2. The Best and Worst Industries to Start a Business This Decade
What are the most promising industries for starting-up over the next 10 years?

3. Chronicles of a Young Serial Entrepreneur
As Matt Mickiewicz prepares to launch his fifth company, the 27-year-old Vancouver native talks about being a young entrepreneur and the importance of being the first to market.

4. Tim Ferriss on the Pitfalls of Personal Branding
The bestselling author of
The 4-Hour Workweek talks about why he rarely uses his personal brand to promote his business.

5. Inside America's Coolest Workplace
Pro skateborder Rob Dyrdek has built a business empire out of more than a dozen ventures. They are all run out of the Fantasy Factory, his office near Los Angeles, which features an indoor skate plaza. Take a look inside America's coolest workplace.

6. Why Tim Ferriss Sold His Muse
The author of
The 4-Hour Workweek talks about selling his business, BrainQUICKEN, despite it taking up little of his time and paying for his lifestyle.

7. Finding Love for Millionaires
Ten years ago, Patti Stanger started Millionaire's Club, a matchmaking service for millionaires. Today her business idea is a reality television hit series called Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo.

8. For Tech Entrepreneurs Looking Beyond Silicon Valley, Chile is Ready and Waiting
Despite a recent earthquake, Chile is positioning itself for future technology investments and innovation.

9. Kelly Cutrone's Advice for PR Success
The star of Bravo's
Kell on Earth and founder of People's Revolution, talked to Inc.com about training the Gen Y workforce, learning the power of "no", and dealing with coddled clients.

10. 30 Under 30 Profile: Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson, Founders of FEED Projects
The former-president's niece embraces social entrepreneurship with a growing line of bags sold online and at Whole Foods.


The Top 10 News Stories from Inc.com

1. Sprint Fires Employees for Pursuing Shoplifter

2. Nonprofit Fires Woman for Blogging About Sex

3. Health Care Reform and Small Business

4. Color Me CEO? Test Shows how Bosses are Wired

5. Entrepreneur Wins $625 Million Verdict Against Apple

6. Research Says Morning People are More Productive

7. Six Indicators of Success

8. Employee Fired for Refusing to Reveal Weight

9. Waitress Fired for Facebook Post

10. How Social Media Helps Small Business


Most Popular Tools

1. Business Plan Checklist

2. One-Day Business Plan Worksheet

3. Business Plan Workbook

4. Business Plan PowerPoint Template

5. Business Model Template

6. Business Plan Example

7. Balanced Scorecard Templates

8. Employee Handbook Sample

9. Business Plan Outline

10. Business Plan Model


Most Popular Messages on Twitter


1. Apple's App Store gets hacked

2.  The best industries for starting a business right now

3.  Have you met America's coolest young entrepreneurs yet? The 2010 Inc. 30 Under 30

4. My son, the entrepreneur

5.  How this kid made $170 million in two years

6. When Steve Jobs calls to approve your iPhone app, you know you've done something right

7.  9 cold calling secrets you should know

8. A look at the coolest office space in the world

9. Why morning people rule the world

10. 10 things employees want most

The Top 10 Topics

1. Innovation

2. The Inc. 500 | 5000

3. Start-up

4. Running a Business 

5. Leadership and Managing 

6. Sales and Marketing 

7. Managing Technology

8. Tools

9. Success Stories

10. Money and Finance

IMAGE: From Left: Jake Chessum; Chris Crisman (2); Michael Edwards
Last updated: Jan 5, 2011




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