Application Guide

It only takes a few minutes to apply for the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Nominate your company and celebrate your growing success!

Deadline to apply is April 30th. Don't miss it!

Eligibility

The Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America honors all sizes of success. If your private company has grown in the past few years, take advantage of this opportunity to receive global and national recognition for your achievements. You owe it to yourself (and to your employees) to apply for the most prestigious award in business.

To qualify for the 2018 Inc. 5000, your company must meet each of the following qualifications:

  • Be privately-owned, based in the United States, independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company)
  • Have started earning revenue by March 31st, 2014
  • Had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2014
  • Had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2017
  • Revenue in 2017 exceeds revenue in 2014

There are a few limited exceptions to the requirements. Please call our team with any questions about eligibility at 212-389-5505.

Why Apply?

Applying is easy, and the benefits are many:

  • National and Global Recognition: Exposure in national, local and industry media. All honorees receive a dedicated company profile on Inc.com.
  • Greater Productivity: Boost employee morale. Improve recruiting opportunities. Tout your achievements.
  • Sales Advantages: Stronger sales momentum. Credibility with prospects and investors you can't buy at any price.
  • Invaluable Networking Opportunities: Share ideas with exclusive community of Inc. 5000 business leaders. New sales and partnership opportunities through high-quality networking.

Important Dates

April 30, 2018

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Recognize your business’ success with Inc.
Mid-July

NOTIFICATIONS GO OUT

All applicants will be notified via email in mid-July if they have made the list or not.
Late August

THE LIST GOES LIVE

Honorees will receive an honoree packet in the mail shortly before the list goes live on Inc.com and in the September issue, containing the company’s official rank and promotional material.
October 17-19, 2018

INC. 5000 CONFERENCE & GALA

Celebrate your growing success at the Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala in San Antonio, Texas. You’ll join other entrepreneurs from America’s fastest-growing companies, hear inspirational speakers who have achieved superstar status, and enjoy lively networking events.

FAQ

In 1982, Inc. introduced the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States. Since then, this prestigious list of the nation's most successful private companies has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success and the place where future household names first make their mark. Pandora, 7 Eleven, Toys 'R' Us, Zipcar, Zappos.com and numerous other well-known brands have been honored by the Inc. 5000. In 2007, the Inc. 500 list expanded to the Inc. 5000, giving readers a deeper, richer understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape and capturing a broader spectrum of success.

Today, the list is a distinguished editorial award, a celebration of innovation, a network of entrepreneurial leaders, and an effective public relations showcase. The Inc. 5000 ranks companies by overall revenue growth over a three-year period. All 5,000 honoree companies are individually profiled on Inc.com. The top 500 are featured in the September issue of Inc. magazine, the leading entrepreneurial advocate for 33 years running. Inc. also ranks the fastest-growing companies by industry, metro area, revenue, and number of employees, and we also highlight women- and minority- run companies.

The Inc. 5000 lists the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the nation. The Inc. 500 are the top 500 companies on that list. All 5,000 companies are profiled on Inc.com. The top 500 are highlighted in the September issue of Inc. magazine. There is a single application process for both lists.

Companies are ranked according to the percentage growth of their annual revenue over a three-year period. To assess this, we ask for your 2014 and 2017 revenues. This gives us a three-year growth period, using 2014 as a base year for growth.

The equation for growth percentage is:

[(2017 revenue - 2014 revenue) / 2014 revenue] x 100 = total growth percentage

For example, if 2014 revenue was $3 million and 2017 revenue is $15 million:

$15 million - $3 million = $12 million

12,000,000 / 3,000,000 = 4

4 x 100 = 400

Growth rate is 400 percent.

Visibility:

  • National, local, and industry recognition
  • Media exposure via national, local, and industry/trade outlets -- in past years, the Inc. 5000 list has received over 35 million media impressions
  • A high-traffic company profile page on Inc.com
  • Coverage in Inc. magazine for the top Inc. 500 companies

Morale:

  • Personal validation for your employees
  • Public acknowledgment for company-wide success

Networking:

  • An exclusive Inc. 5000 community of private companies
  • New leadership opportunities, e.g. by hosting a local Inc. event
  • Increased visibility to the Inc. editorial staff
  • Local private company Inc. event invitations
  • Celebration and learning at the Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala

Knowledge:

  • Exclusive, cutting-edge private company research on growth patterns and strategies
  • Shared business insights, resources and best practices
  • Eligibility for a complimentary analysis of your company's growth potential by our CEO Project experts

Business Opportunities:

  • Traffic to your Inc.com profile (The profile pages of 2018's Inc. 5000 honorees received over 3 million visits collectively during the months of August and September)
  • Tout your recognition to potential recruits
  • New sales and partnership opportunities through high-quality networking

1. APPLICATION: Complete an application for the Inc. 5000 online here.

  • Confirm that your company meets the Inc. 5000 2018 eligibility requirements. (Eligibility section below)
  • Apply early in order to be eligible for the early application benefits and to ensure that you make all editorial and publication deadlines.
  • If you do not have a final figure for your 2017 revenue when you apply, you may enter an estimate and provide us with the more precise figure when you submit your verification materials.
  • The early bird application fee is $175 until March 15th. Thereafter, the application fee will be $199. The deadline for submitting applications is April 30, 2018.

2. REVENUE VERIFICATION: Once your company's 2017 revenue figure is final, submit revenue verification materials to confirm your 2014 and 2017 revenue figures.

  • Submitting your revenue verification early will ensure accurate coverage in Inc.com or Inc. magazine. If you need an extension, please call 800-248-0308, or send an email to feedback5000@inc.com.
  • After you submit verification to support your revenue numbers, you may not withdraw from consideration for the 2017 Inc. 5000.
  • If you are concerned that your final 2017 revenue figures will not be available in time, please contact us at 212-389-5505 (toll free at 800-248-0308) or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

3. EDITORIAL: Once revenue verification materials have been submitted, our editorial team may need to contact you to ask follow-up questions, to gather additional information and to discuss your company.

4. NOTIFICATION: In the summer of 2018, companies will be notified as to whether they made the list.

  • Applicants will first be notified of their status via email
  • CEOs of 2018 honoree companies will receive packets by mail informing them of their Inc. 5000 rank

5. PUBLICATION: In August we will publish the 2018 Inc. 5000 list on Inc.com. The September issue of Inc., profiling the top 500 of the Inc. 5000, will hit newsstands the following week.

  • Inc. will publicize and distribute the list to media channels throughout the country.

6. CELEBRATION: Congratulations! Making the Inc. 5000 is a major accomplishment, and one that can be celebrated with your executives, employees, clients, and all others who helped make it possible.

  • Inc. helps you celebrate with year-round regional events led by high-profile business leaders, exclusive private company research and more.
  • Join us to accept your award in person along with other Inc. 5000 honorees, alumni, elite speakers, and other business leaders at the 2018 Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala in San Antonio.

All of the following must be true of your company in order to qualify for the 2018 Inc. 5000. Your company must:

  • Be privately-owned, based in the United States, and independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company);
  • Have generated revenue by March 31st, 2014;
  • Have generated at least $100,000 in revenue in 2014;
  • Have generated at least $2 million in revenue in 2017;
  • Revenue in 2017 exceeds revenue in 2014.

Inc. defines revenue as gross revenue, less returns and allowances, before any cost of goods sold. This is the same figure that you enter in Box 1c of your corporate income tax return. Revenue figures should be as precise as possible and rounded no more than to the nearest thousand (i.e. $234,000).

If you do not have a final figure for your 2017 revenue at the time you apply, you may enter an estimate and give the precise figure when you submit your verification materials. Please refer to the Revenue Verification section below for more details.

No. The Inc. 5000 is determined solely by revenue growth; profitability is not a consideration.

Yes, as long as it meets the rest of our requirements, your company is still eligible.

Public companies are not eligible for the Inc. 5000. Note that there are some exceptions to this requirement. Please call our team with any questions at 212-389-5505 (toll free at 800-248-0308).

Your business is eligible as long as it was privately held and independent as of December 31, 2017.

Please contact our team at 212-389-5505 or toll free at 800-248-0308, or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

Company structure is not a factor. Your company may still be eligible, as long as the business is independent and meets the other criteria.

We're here to help! If you have any additional questions or concerns about the Inc. 5000, please contact our team at 212-389-5505 or toll free at 800-248-0308, or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

To ensure the integrity and credibility of the list, we carefully verify the 2014 and 2017 revenue numbers for every Inc. 5000 applicant. Submitting documentation early will ensure accurate coverage. If you need an extension, please call 800-248-0308, or send an email to feedback5000@inc.com.

You may choose one of the following three kinds of revenue verification to submit to our verification team:

Revenue Verification Form (click here to download): This is the easiest way to submit your revenue verification. Simply fill out the form and have a certified public accountant, chartered financial analyst, certified management accountant, or attorney sign the form attesting to the complete accuracy of the information. The certifier may work at the applicant firm or be independent, as long as the certifier is a licensed professional with credentials that are current and in good standing. Please make sure to print clearly!

OR

Corporate Tax Return: Include the first page and the page that indicates that accrual accounting was used to prepare the return.

OR

Audit: Include the accounting opinion letter and income statement from financial statements that have been audited, reviewed or compiled by an independent accounting firm.

For more information on revenue verification, feel free to contact our team at 212-389-5505 or toll free at 800-248-0308, or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

The quickest way to verify your revenue is to submit a secure electronic version of the Revenue Verification Form through DocuSign. A link to your secure form will be provided immediately after you complete the online application both on the confirmation page and in your confirmation email. If you do not choose to use DocuSign, we prefer that you save your revenue verification documents as PDFs and e-mail them to verification@inc.com. Please include the name of your company in the subject line. Alternatively, you may fax the documents to 646-365-3235.

We prefer the electronic Revenue Verification Form submitted via DocuSign as a simple and clear method of revenue verification. A link to the your secure form will be provided immediately after you complete the online application both on the confirmation page and in your confirmation email. If you do not choose to use DocuSign, we prefer that you save your revenue verification documents as PDFs and e-mail them to verification@inc.com. Download the form here. Please be sure that the form has valid signatures from both the CEO and a certifier.

The deadline for submitting Revenue Verification materials is May 15, 2018. We strongly recommend that you submit your verification early to ensure that the application process is complete by the deadline and to ensure accurate coverage on Inc.com and in Inc. magazine.

Please contact our team at 212-389-5505 or toll free at 800-248-0308, or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

We ask all applicants to submit their revenue figures for full calendar years. Companies with non-calendar fiscal years should use our Revenue Verification Form for verification, rather than tax forms or audits. Please make sure the revenue figures entered on the form are for calendar years 2014 and 2017.

No. Inc. requires that all revenue figures (for both 2014 and 2017) be converted using accrual accounting. To convert cash figures to accrual figures, start with cash receipts, subtract the beginning accounts receivable, and add ending accounts receivable.

We're here to help! If you have any additional questions or concerns about the Inc. 5000, please contact our team at 212-389-5505 or toll free at 800-248-0308, or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

No. Franchisors should only report the fees that come to the parent company, plus total sales from any stores owned by the parent company.

The Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala will be held October 17-19 in San Antonio, Texas.

The 2018 Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala celebrates nearly 40 years of Inc.'s ranking of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America. The event brings together current Inc. 5000 honorees and alumni, along with the greater business community, to recognize their remarkable achievements and their great contributions to the economy.

For more information about the 2018 conference, visit Inc5000Conference.com or send an email to events@inc.com. Registration is now open for this year's Conference and Gala.

As a special benefit for applicant companies, you can elect for us to apply the application fee toward a deposit on registration for the 2018 Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala. The $175 application fee can be applied toward a $300 deposit on registration.

We're here to help! If you have additional questions or concerns about the Inc. 5000 gala or the upcoming conference, please contact our team at 212-389-5505 or toll free at 800-248-0308, or email us at feedback5000@inc.com.

Partners

Inc. would like to thank the following associations and organizations for their support of the 2018 Inc. 5000. The success of The List is due in part to their efforts toward helping us to identify, recognize and celebrate America's private companies.

Premier Partners

Interested in partnering with Inc.? Please contact the Inc. Outreach team by emailing us at feedback5000@inc.com.