The financial and emotional concerns of running a business are often enmeshed, and that is certainly the case when the subject is how much money the boss should take home. Alison Stein Wellner explores the complexities of setting your own salary in our cover story, which starts on page 86. I'm particularly fascinated by the reasons entrepreneurs give for sometimes paying themselves as little as...nothing. These reasons are as honorable as they are varied, but, Wellner writes, the best business decision in many cases is for the owner to get a raise. A note: Throughout the story you'll see that quite a few entrepreneurs have told us exactly how much they make. Or, I should say, they've told one another -- I take their openness on a sensitive topic to be an expression of their belief that through Inc. they can talk with one another, and I'm grateful for their trust.

Contributors

"Voice over internet protocol, or VoIP, is going to get so much better, and more pervasive, that soon our phones will be computers," says Michael F. Fitzgerald, who writes this month about the companies that have already tried this emerging form of telecommunications (page 63). Fitzgerald has also written about leading-edge technologies for The Economist and The New York Times.

Eric Weeks's portraits of immigrant entrepreneurs (page 100) illustrate David J. Dent's story about the global-minded and increasingly diverse business community of Portland, Maine. Weeks's work has appeared in Discover and Newsweek. He recently had a show at the Jackson Fine Art gallery in Atlanta.

"This month I'm tackling an issue that nice people don't talk about -- money and how much of it they make," says Alison Stein Wellner of her cover story (page 86) about CEO compensation in the private sector. Wellner regularly contributes stories about workplace psychology to Inc. She has also written for The Washington Post, Fast Company, Business Week, and Working Mother.

Staff writer Jess McCuan loved traveling to Vermont to report on the two entrepreneurs in her November feature (page 110), both of whom try to balance making a profit with making a positive change in the world. McCuan holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia. Her writing has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A former senior editor at Business North Carolina, Tim Gray worked in the shadow of Fort Bragg. He has long been aware of the influence of war on business -- and vice versa. This month, he writes about American entrepreneurs called to duty in Iraq (page 29), and how their companies cope in their absence.