Lots of publications want to write about entrepreneurs these days, even those that built their reputations covering corporate giants. Who can blame them? Builders like you make much better stories than the stewards of Goldman Sachs, Walmart, and other traditional business darlings.
Of course, the mainstream business press hasn't always recognized that. I know. I used to work there. A few years ago, I watched as my boss at one such title--an offshoot of a brand famous for ranking the nation's 500 largest corporations--proposed to his boss the heretical idea that we cover more startups. "If you do," the executive stormed, "you will never get another dime of funding from me." That magazine has just opened a new section about entrepreneurs. Welcome to the bandwagon.
Still, writing for entrepreneurs does not come naturally to these other publications. Their audience has always been investors and corporate competitors, which means that their articles tend to rely heavily on speculation about the future. It's just in their DNA. So when one of them does make room for an entrepreneurial story, the question it strives to answer is, "Will this entrepreneur become rich and powerful and join the elites we prefer to cover?"
For us at Inc., the mission is quite different. We want to help entrepreneurs succeed. Period. Editor Jim Ledbetter doesn't have to weigh whether an article about Toms is more "important" than one about, say, Exxon, because Exxon isn't on our radar. In pitching a story to Inc., the one question the writer has to answer is, "How will this help entrepreneurs?" Sometimes the answer is, it might show them how to do something that's critical for business leaders to do. In other cases, it might alert them to opportunities. Sometimes, it's just that the story is so inspiring, it will renew their faith that the incredibly hard thing they have set out to do is, indeed, possible.
You'll see all those goals at work in this month's issue. Bernhard Warner's feature about Harry's shows that true innovation sometimes means disrupting the rules of disruption. Victoria Finkle's story about cash flow features three small companies that the mainstream media would never dream of covering. But their cash-flow challenges hold lessons for many business owners.
And then there's Leigh Buchanan's cover story about Toms founder Blake Mycoskie. You'll notice this is the second time in three months we've taken up the topic of social entrepreneurship (the last was in March). At Inc., we're neutral on whether a business should set out to right the world's wrongs. What does matter to us is that the business reflect the founder's values, and that's clearly the case here. Social good drives Mycoskie--and it hasn't hurt Toms' commercial success, either. We applaud him for recognizing that a company's mission needs to evolve, just like its business. After all, in the best cases, the mission and the business are the same.