President George Bush faces a clear challenge as he is inaugurated into office for a second term this month: to heal a divided nation. One way he might move toward this goal would be to more fully and visibly support entrepreneurship as an engine of both economic and social progress. This is not a blue state or red state issue. It's a concept that the majority of Americans already support. Our 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year, Burt Rutan, is a recent, inspiring example of what private enterprise can accomplish without a corporate organization or a government budget. President Bush himself was quick to recognize this, calling Rutan from Air Force One to praise his "entrepreneurial" achievement. At Inc., we know there are many more Burt Rutans out there -- we write about them all the time. There's never been a better time to give serious thought to what we can really do to support entrepreneurs.

Contributors

John Fried interviewed Todd McFarlane for this issue to learn what the maker of comics and collectibles keeps in his own treasure trove (page 56). Fried teaches fiction and film at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. His stories about business and the arts have appeared in Worth, George, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone.

An instrument-rated pilot, David H. Freedman has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Science, and Wired. In this issue, he profiles Entrepreneur of the Year Burt Rutan, whose firm was the first private entity to launch successful manned space flights (page 58). Freedman says, "Rutan cares about his employees as much as his aircraft. He took 50 of them in a jet to St. Louis for a celebration."

Lucky or Smart? Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life is a new memoir by Bo Peabody, excerpted exclusively by Inc. (page 89). The founder of dot-com tour de force Tripod, Peabody says: "It's not that different now than it was between '92 and '02. We had a recession, boom, and crash, an even split between tough and good times. The lessons are timeless." Peabody is managing general partner of Village Ventures, in Williamstown, Mass., which invests in rural-area businesses.

Bob Buderi is editor-at-large at MIT's Technology Review magazine and a former BusinessWeek technology editor. His work has appeared in The Economist, Science, and Nature. Buderi's acclaimed book Engines of Tomorrow (Simon & Schuster) examined high-tech research innovation, a topic he revisits in his story about search engine start-ups (page 34).

Sarah Bartlett is an author, a journalism professor at Baruch College in New York City, and a former contributing editor at Inc. Over a year ago, she lost her husband to cancer and became deeply involved in the resolution of his personal finances and business. Bartlett chose to write her very personal story about the importance of estate planning "because it would be terrible not to share what I learned from a hard experience" (page 74).