This month's "Ultimate Valuation Guide" (beginning on page 64) tackles a question that's near and dear to the hearts of most private business owners: What's my company worth in today's market? Right-brain-oriented readers should especially enjoy the graphic that we've included on pages 76 and 77. Produced by infographics wiz Tommy McCall, it displays the full spectrum of current selling prices (as well as valuation multiples) for more than 100 different types of private businesses -- from semiconductor companies and in vitro practices on the expensive end to coin-operated laundries and retail bakeries on the other. Wealth-building, of course, is only one benefit of business ownership. "Work's a Beach" (page 56) keeps that in perspective by reminding us of another possible reward: the ability to live life exactly the way you want.

Doug Twitchell is the director of financial research at Business Valuation Resources, the creators of Pratt's Stats, the definitive database tracking private company transactions. For this month's cover story [page 64], Twitchell compiled critical statistics that paint the most up-to-date picture of the market for private companies in 103 different industries. Twitchell holds an M.B.A. from Portland State University and a B.S. in engineering from Clarkson University.

Designing the infographics for this month's valuation feature, Tommy McCall steered clear of basic tables. His multidimensional designs have illuminated financial concepts and complex data in Worth, Forbes, Esquire, Men's Journal, and Time Out New York. In 2002, the Journalist and Financial Reporting Group named McCall one of the nation's top 30 financial reporters under 30.

Travel photographer Jay Perez shoots on location so much that he gets home to Los Angeles only a few days each quarter. This month he captures the life and work of Surf Diva's co-founders (and twin sisters) Coco and Izzy Tihanyi [page 56], whose all-girl surfing school in La Jolla released them from the cubicle life for good. Photography by Perez has appeared in Travel & Leisure, Angeleno, Los Angeles, Smart Business, and Fortune Small Business, as well as on billboards and in ads for major brands.

Before joining Inc., Lora Kolodny was a senior copywriter for Luminant, an interactive ad agency in San Francisco. As an ex-dot-commer, she is always interested in how companies with online products stir up public interest -- as Kuma Reality Games, the subject of this month's case study [page 46], has done with its controversial, "ripped from the headlines" war games. Kolodny has also written for The Seattle Times and Citysearch.com. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize in 1995.

John Grossmann has been writing for Inc. since the magazine's inception. He has also written for Esquire, National Geographic Traveler, Philadelphia, and The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Celebrating 100 Years 1903- 2003: YMCA Camp Belknap. For this issue, Grossmann visited the Kansas company Cobalt Boats [page 82], whose landlocked employees, many of them farmers, may not have sea legs but definitely know their way around a motor. Grossmann prefers lakes to the sea and owns a canoe.