One of the great privi­leges of working for Inc. is getting to meet entrepreneurs at every step of their journey.

In May, Inc. held our first Fast Growth Tour event, in Chicago, at which my colleagues and I were pleasantly surrounded by entrepreneurs from all ranks: from those who are just figuring out their business plans to Inc. 5000 founders like Angela Keaveny of Rowdydow bbQ (No. 1,701 in 2018) and Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers (No. 739), to titans like Adam Lowry of Method and Ripple Foods and Kendra Scott.

This issue of Inc. extends the same privilege to you. Our annual "How I Did It" package introduces you to entrepreneurs big and small, who are eager to share with you their tales of toil and triumph. The package, which was overseen by executive director of editorial Jon Fine, includes key leaders you've been reading about for years, like Jeff Raider of Harry's, which sold in May for $1.4 billion. But equally inspiring are some you've probably not heard of, like Jerry Jao, who willed himself to immigrate to the U.S. from Taiwan at the age of 13--by himself--and then co-founded Retention Science, which, after several false starts, landed on last year's Inc. 5000 (No. 894).

We also focus this month on entrepreneurs who've managed to sell their businesses and keep a smile on their faces. Too often, we hear about private equity companies that take over businesses only to strip them of their assets and dump the existing employees. It doesn't have to be that way. That's why, under the guidance of editor-at-large Bill Saporito and senior editor Graham Winfrey, we have assembled for the first time a list of 50 private equity firms that believe in founders. Our special report features business owners who took private equity money and are happy they did.

All of which is to say: Whether you are starting, growing, or selling your business, Inc. is with you, every step of the way.