Letter From the Editor: Full Speed Ahead
BY John Koten
Reading the mood at the 2003 Inc. 500.
Letter From the Editor
I'm happy to report that, even in the current wartime environment and anxiety over the economy, the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in America. I say that having just returned from the annual Inc. 500 conference, a three-day celebration of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. This year's gathering, held in Rancho Mirage, Calif., achieved the highest attendance in the 21-year history of the event. The optimistic mood was evident in a survey we conducted with more than 100 of the CEOs who were present. While 67% said they believe that war has hurt the economy, only 11% said they expect their own businesses to become less profitable during the next six months. Successful entrepreneurs are, of course, opportunists by nature. While few could read today's headlines and not be aware of the obvious connection between business and risk, it is hardly a paralyzing concept for them. They understand that minimizing loss is an important skill, but they also know that the ability to identify and exploit opportunity is what yields the greatest rewards. Joe Knight, co-owner of Setpoint Companies in Ogden, Utah, which builds roller coasters, among other things, understands the equation well. He explains: "Last year, a lot of our competitors went out of business. As a result 2003 has been great so far for us. There are just fewer options for our customers." Another successful businessman, Todd Eberhardt, CEO of Comm-Works, a technology hardware integrator for large companies, told Inc.:"In the past five months we have seen more opportunities for larger projects than we have in all of our previous six and a half years." Since 9/11, politicians have been exhorting their constituents to get on with the business of life. The readers of this magazine need no such push. They've been getting on with the business of business, and by the looks of the smiling faces at our conference, they've been succeeding brilliantly.
A frequent Inc. contributor for two decades, John Grossmann is a man of diverse interests. In addition to being passionate about the issues facing small companies (like embezzlement: see " A Thief Within"), he's a lover of fine cuisine and is a regular contributor to Cooking Light and Gourmet magazines. John recently finished a book, due out this spring, on the history of America's oldest and most successful summer camp. Would you believe it's run by the YMCA?
Editor-at-large Bo Burlingham delved into the world of dollars and scents for " Up Against J.Lo". Wading through the pop icon's perfume trademark battle isn't his first brush with Hollywood. He once worked on a project at Warner Bros., where starlets lined up for auditions outside his office. Back in the day, he covered celebs' involvement in politics for Esquire, spending time with Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, and Warren Beatty. He is the co-author of A Stake in the Outcome, with Jack Stack.
Brooklyn-based Suzanne McGee, who spent 14 years at The Wall Street Journal, now contributes regularly to the Financial Times and the New York Post. Though she is not planning to retire soon, she has suggestions for entrepreneurs who are (" Retiring Minds"). When she hangs up her quill, she'll have plenty of reading material: Some family members refer to her book-filled apartment as the "Brooklyn branch of the New York Public Library."