Contributing editor Donna Fenn and I argue about who introduced us (I say it was my friend Rick at BusinessWeek; she says no), but we do agree that we met almost 20 years ago when I called her in a panic, asking her to write a front-page story for the local New York City rag where I had just been named editor. The article focused on a new restaurant called Bice, a chic Milanese transplant that was trying to make a name for itself in midtown Manhattan. Donna interviewed the owner, Roberto Ruggeri, among others, and I gratefully published her story (about two seconds after she turned it in). Shortly thereafter, she went off to Saudi Arabia with her banker husband. She had some kids, came back to New York, and eventually started writing for Inc. I stayed in New York, had a kid, went off to The Wall Street Journal, and after a few other professional stops, became editor of Inc.
It's a lovely coincidence that the cover story this month, my first on the job, was written by Donna. Her article on Mike Schwartz, a Harley-Davidson dealer, is adapted from her new book, Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become a Leader of the Pack. If you look at the charts in our special report on company valuations you can check out whether you, like Mike, rank as an alpha dog in your own industry.
But if you don't know what your company is worth, then you'd better start at the beginning of the 16-page report, with Alison Stein Wellner's story on three businesses that were examined by two experienced valuators with dramatically different philosophies and approaches.
Surely few numbers are more important than the price put on the company you run. Alison, also an Inc. contributor, explains how to find the professional valuator that's right for you, and how to work with that valuator to find the number that best expresses the true worth of your company. Every entrepreneur should read Alison's insightful story. It's not only good for you; it's fun.
And in case you're wondering whether Bice got off the ground in New York: It did. Entrepreneur Roberto Ruggeri now presides over an empire of more than 40 restaurants worldwide. Last time I passed what Zagat's calls his "high-decibel Midtown Northern Italian," it was packed.
If you have comments, suggestions, criticisms, or compliments, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.