|Visit the Inc. 500 site, which includes a fully searchable database of winners from 1983 to the present|
How old are the Inc. 500 companies? What markets are they in? How many got started at home? And much more . . .
The Vital Statistics
Average 1994 revenues $22,906,000
Average number of employees 118.7
Average age of company (in years) 8.7
Median 1994 revenues $8,873,000
Median 1994 profitability range 1%ñ5%
Median amount of starting capital $25,000* * *
The Inc. 500 by Geography
A. Number of Inc. 500 Employees per 100,000 Employees in Each State
B. Number of Inc. 500 Companies by State
Although there's a clear bias toward the major population centers, the Inc. 500 are literally all over the map. In some states their job-creating impact ought to make local pols pay serious attention to growth companies.
Source of data on total number of employees per state: Woods & Poole Economics Inc.
The Inc. 500 by Industry
Sure, the computer industry keeps spawning companies, but look at the telecommunications sector -- and then read the story about this year's number one company. Following, the number of Inc. 500 companies in each industry . . .
|in 1992||in 1995|
|Environmental Goods & Services||31||10|
|Consumer Goods & Services||77||76|
Where Businesses Start
And you thought basements and garages were the only places to start a company? The real surprise is that more than 60% of businesses are started somewhere other than the CEO's cellar. But what about the company builders who turn their quiet suburban cul-de-sacs into Fed Ex parkways for some two years or more after founding a business? You've got to admire the tolerance of their neighbors.
Percentage of businesses started at home: 38.6%
Average age of those businesses when they moved from the home: 27.4 months
Average number of employees at those businesses when they moved from the home: 6.6* * *
It took just a little more than one year to get the average Inc. 500 company up and running, from the original idea to the beginning of operations. On average, founders stayed at their old jobs for four months before going with their businesses full-time.
Yes, the Small Business Administration has funds to give out, and, yes, banks are becoming friendlier -- up to a point. But family members are still the best source of external funding. Here's the average percentage breakdown of where the Inc. 500 companies' starting capital came from:
|Personal charge cards||4%|
Which Managers Are Hired, and When
Is a young business better off hiring a top-notch marketing pro as early as possible? Or is it better to bring on a Big Six financial type to manage the money cleverly? There's no easy answer. But there is a natural order to hiring, as borne out by the averages shown here.
Percentage of Inc. 500 companies still without a full-time . . .
|chief financial officer||43%|
|sales and marketing director||26%|
|Average number of years Inc. 500 managers have been in their positions . . .|
|sales and marketing director||3.6|
|management-information- systems specialist||3.2|
|chief financial officer||3.1|
A breakdown of Inc. 500 CEOs' original goals for their companies reveals a surprise:
|Grow as fast as possible||50.9%|
|Start small and stay small||5.8%|
The five most commonly cited indicators used by Inc. 500 CEOs:
1. Industry reports generated by the government or private companies
2. Trade journals, magazines, and newsletters
3. Stock prices of public companies in the CEO's industry
4. General daily and weekly media
5. Interest rates* * *
Do Businesses Move?
File this one under "Misdirected Funds." The well-meaning folks in the economic-development offices of many U.S. states should see this: As a rule, Inc. 500 companies believe in at least half the maxim about thinking globally and acting locally. Only about 6% of them have ever moved their operations to another state -- and those that did usually moved just over the state line. Local financial incentives? Uh, they're not much of an incentive, it seems.
Percentage of businesses that have moved headquarters out of state: 6.1%
Percentage of businesses that have moved headquarters out of town or out of the county: 27.9%
Of the companies that have moved, the percentage that did so primarily for better financial incentives from local government: 5.7%* * *
The 12% of this year's Inc. 500 CEOs who were born outside the United States seem to be more in tune with global-commerce trends than their United Statesñborn peers are. Sixty percent have foreign sales; just 41% of the United Statesñborn CEOs do. The immigrant exporters get more of their revenues from abroad, too: 26%, compared with 11% for the natives.
What Are CEOs Good At?
For every Inc. 500 CEO who thinks of himself or herself as a great leader of men and women, there's another who admits to not knowing what makes humans tick. But there's a 3:1 ratio between the superseller CEOs and the ones who probably still are pitching long after they should be closing. And when it comes to finance, the comfort level of most Inc. 500 CEOs drops way off.
Percentage of CEOs Who Consider a Specific Area Their Greatest Strength or Weakness
A Family Affair
Once a company is operating, many Inc. 500 founders bring family members in to help run the show. Even the in-laws get to play. Here are the percentages of Inc. 500 companies with family members actively involved in running the business.
|At Founding||In 1994|
Who's Got the Equity Now?
The average Inc. 500 company is almost nine years old. Look who gives up equity as the business grows -- and who gets a much bigger slice. These are the percentages of companies that say the specified individual or group has or has had some equity . . .
|at founding||in 1990||in 1994|
Technology Is Everywhere
In earlier times computers found homes in places where numbers had to be crunched -- such as accounting departments. Our findings show that technology has flowed into other areas of Inc. 500 companies, thanks both to company builders' getting smarter about technology and to an explosion in easy-to-use software. Here are the percentages of companies that identified a specific area as benefiting most from technology.
|in 1990||in 1994|
Inc.'s Best-Seller List
Memo to Stephen Covey: you're habit-forming. (More than one Inc. 500 company swears it now lives by your principles.) These are the books that Inc. 500 CEOs say have made big differences in the way they run their businesses:
1. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
2 . The Discipline of Market Leaders, by Michael Treacy
3. Reengineering the Corporation, by James Champy and Michael Hammer
4. In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters
5 . The Great Game of Business, by Jack Stack* * *
We asked Inc. 500 CEOs which companies they use as benchmarking models. Here are the names that came up repeatedly:
5. Southwest Airlines* * *
We never asked for a corporate Antichrist, but we got it from several respondents: the company they love to loathe is none other than Microsoft -- number 163 on the Inc. 500 list a decade ago.
In Five Years' Time, I'll Be . . .
on the beach? Not quite. One of our findings should vaporize any charges about entrepreneurs being get-rich-quick schemers: more than 90% mean to be busy into the new millennium -- building the company. Here's a breakdown of where the Inc. 500 CEOs expect to be five years from now:
In the same role as now: 53.3%
Out. I'll have sold the company: 4.8%
Out. I'll be starting another company: 3%
In the same role, but the company will be public: 24.9%
Delegating responsibility to professional managers: 11.9%
Out. I'll have passed the company to the next generation: 1.1%
Out, and the company will be public: 1%* * *
INC. BOOK OF RECORDS
The 10 Largest Growth Companies
|Future Tech International||265.1|
|*Annual revenues, in $ millions|
The Top 5 Job Creators
|Atlanta Legal Copies||1,650|
The Honor Roll
Here are the companies that have been on the Inc. 500 list five times:
|Lai, Venuti & Lai||357|
|Saturn Electronics & Engineering||404|
|U.S. Computer Maintenance||408|