Inc. magazine goes behind the scenes with 25 entrepreneurs who best exemplify the extraordinary drive, creativity, and passion of American business. Our top 25 list, coinciding with Inc .'s 25th anniversary, spans the gamut of the entrepreneurial world, from spectacularly successful household names, such as Russell Simons, to Laima Tazmin, an extraordinarily talented teenager who runs a Web consulting business, to Lance Morgan, a Native American whose network of businesses, from e-commerce to housing construction, provides hundreds of jobs for members of his tribe. No matter what the accomplishment, each entrepreneur profiled here offers a fascinating case study in what it takes to thrive in today's economy.


  1. Jeff Bezos,
    because "optimism is essential"
  2. Betsey Johnson, Betsey Johnson
    for her stylish life
  3. Russell Simmons, Rush Communications
    for his powerful example
  4. Scott Cook, Intuit
    because he learns, and teaches
  5. Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Google
    for their integrity. And, well, for Google
  6. David Neeleman, JetBlue
    for creating an airline fit for humans
  7. Tom Stemberg, Staples
    for doing it exactly right
  8. Jack Stack, SRC Holdings
    for going naked
  9. Judy Wicks, White Dog Enterprises
    because she's put in place more progressive business practices per square foot than any other entrepreneur
  10. Davin Wedel, Global Protection
    because he's a lifesaver
  11. Pat McGovern, International Data Group
    for knowing the power of respect
  12. Steve Jobs, Apple Computer, Pixar
    because we like to be seduced
  13. Lance Morgan, Ho-Chunk
    because a man must make his own arrows--Winnebago proverb
  14. James Goodnight, SAS
    for saying no to Wall Street (repeatedly) and yes to the people who really matter
  15. Stella Ogiale, Chesterfield Health Services
    for doing good while doing well
  16. Rhonda Kallman, New Century Brewing
    for seizing opportunity-- again and again
  17. Laima Tazmin, LAVT
    because she's a lot like other kids--and then again...
  18. Laura & Pete Wakeman, Great Harvest Bread
    for living a little --no, a lot
  19. Andra Rush, Rush Trucking
    for rolling up her sleeves
  20. Kathleen Wehner, Cirrus Aviation
    for refusing to quit
  21. Frank Venegas, Ideal Group
    because he parlayed a little bit of luck into a lot of good fortune for others
  22. Dan Wieden, Wieden + Kennedy
    because he's a true independent
  23. John Sperling, Apollo Group
    because he stirs the pot, and apparently always will
  24. John Stollenwerk, Allen-Edmonds
    for his commitment to U.S. workers. We also love the shoes
  25. Mel Zuckerman, Canyon Ranch
    for showing the way