I would guess that many, if not most, kids who eventually became entrepreneurs wanted to grow up to be sports or TV stars. When you're a kid, that's who your heroes are. So it's a bit ironic how many sports and TV stars, having grown up, now want to be entrepreneurs.
That's who our heroes are today.
As contributing editor Jeff Haden and editor-at-large Bill Saporito point out in this profile of Venus Williams, celebrities have long transitioned into business. But it's different today. Williams and others, like Bode Miller and Sofía Vergara, are not just slapping their names on some brands' gear, becoming passive investors, or opening restaurants as tax shelters. They're building to last. They're involved. And, in the biggest psychological shift, they really want the rest of us to see them as entrepreneurs.
Should we? Surely there's a difference between a founder who bootstraps on the kids' college savings and one who, like Williams, starts with a reputed net worth of more than $75 million and global name recognition. Williams gets meetings mere mortals never could. She doesn't have to hire a celebrity endorser. She is one.
And yet, in many ways, Williams the startup founder has traveled a rocky path you will probably recognize well. Like you, she has made plenty of gaffes, one of which nearly ended her company, EleVen. Like you, she agonizes over how to deal with partnerships gone awry. Like you, she is acutely aware that she doesn't know nearly as much as she needs to (one reason she took time to earn a business degree even as she continued to compete on the court). True, she wouldn't be homeless if EleVen and V-Starr Interiors were to fail. But like you, she'll be damned if she lets that happen.
As I write, Inc. is closing the books on what is shaping up to be our most profitable year since entrepreneur Joe Mansueto bought us 10 years ago. This is not a statement that many business publications are making these days.
I attribute Inc.'s exceptional status not just to the skills of our journalists, but even more to the power of the stories we get to tell--that is, your stories--and to the importance of the readers we serve. That is, you. Without entrepreneurs, free enterprise fails, and the prosperity it confers never happens. Building a sustainable business is not easy. We know that. That's why it's our privilege and our mission today--as it has been for 38 years--to stand with you.