"What's Your Company Worth Now?" [by Randall Lane and Jennifer Reingold, July] is one of the best articles I've seen on business valuations. The only comment I disagree with is that a business's success is ultimately measured by its value. Having appraised businesses for nearly 20 years, I'm convinced of the reverse. Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and a host of dot-coms attained sky-high valuations, despite their lack of financial success, because they were successful at maximizing the variables that buyers were using to price these companies.

Richard Dotson, CPA/ABV
Daszkal Bolton LLP
Boca Raton, Fla.

Besides denigrating the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA) as an organization to look to for valuation services, this article states that NACVA's CVA is "lightly regarded." By whom? Based on what facts? NACVA has 4,000 credentialed members, more than the ASA, IBA-CBA, AICPA-ABV combined. We have the most extensive testing and rigorous recertification requirements in the profession. NACVA is the only organization to require processes that go beyond continuing professional education and address both quality issues and knowledge of significant developments in the field. CVAs, in addition, must be CPAs. With these more stringent requirements, one has to wonder why we've grown faster than our peers. Contrary to the article's assertion, the fact that NACVA is the largest business valuation organization demonstrates that we are regarded very highly.

Parnell Black, CEO
Salt Lake City

Vendor Venting

I must take issue with your recommendation of Dell as the "right vendor" for small-business owners ["Finding the Right Vendor," by Alison Stein Wellner, July]. Dell was absolutely not "on call" when things went wrong with my computer. Dell did not honor its service contract for "next business day in-home service." The telephone support was so poor we called it the "Dell-do-loop." It went like this: "I can't help you because it sounds like a software problem" -- "I can't help you because it sounds like a hardware problem" -- repeat.

Jean D. Sifleet, Principal
Smart Fast Business Consulting
Clinton, Mass.

The Long Road to Success Inc.

I just finished reading Hillary Johnson's piece about growing up with her dad, an inspiring entrepreneur ["If at First You Don't Succeed," July]. The entire piece captured the spark of hope that each of us feels when we put our entrepreneurial instincts to the test. It's a reminder of the inventor in all of us, who tells us, Go big or go home. Articles like this continue to set Inc. apart from the pack.

Justin Kerr, Senior Merchant
Gap Inc.
San Francisco

Gross Taxes Galore

Michigan is not alone in taxing businesses on their gross revenue ["A Gross Tax Proposal," by Bobbie Gossage, July]. The state of Washington has charged my business its Business & Occupation Tax for all of the 21 years I've been here. On top of that, because I also do business in various other cities, I am subject to a B&O tax on gross revenue earned in some of those cities. That's right; I am in fact paying twice on some of the same gross revenues.

J.C. Higgins, President
JCHiggins and Associates
Puyallup, Wash.

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Elizabeth Wasserman, who contributed "Time to Fix the SBA" to this month's issue of Inc., is a business and technology writer currently based in Fairfax, Va. She covered Internet and telecommunications start-ups for the San Jose Mercury News in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom of the mid-1990s. In 1998, she joined a start-up magazine, The Industry Standard, and served as its Washington bureau chief until the magazine folded three years later. Wasserman's work has appeared in MBA Jungle, American Journalism Review, and CIO Insight. She has also reported for Long Island's Newsday and the Orlando Sentinel.

Christopher McDougall, who writes for a variety of publications, last year won a Clarion award for his feature on the seamy underside of the voting-machine industry. For this issue of Inc., he chronicles the wild adventures of Gary Teague, a stubborn man with an unusual mission. McDougall's book Girl Trouble, about Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi's involvement in an infamous sex scandal, derives from an article he wrote for The New York Times Magazine. His book will be published by HarperCollins in June 2004.

A native New Yorker now living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, Stephen H. Zades is CEO and founder of Odyssey Network, a strategy and brand consulting company in Winston-Salem, N.C. He began his career at Procter & Gamble and has worked in advertising and marketing on Madison Avenue. For Inc. this month, Zades turns his attention to Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute and the theories of innovation practiced there. More of Zades's insights into imaginative intelligence can be found in Mad Dogs, Dreamers, and Sages: Discovering Imaginative Intelligence (Elounda Press/September 2003).