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 Jef Haden and
editor-at-large Bill Saporito point out in this
month’s profle of Venus Williams (page 22),
celebrities have long transitioned into business.
But it’s diferent 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 diference 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 gafes, 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 THIS, Inc. is closing the books on what is shaping
up to be our most proftable 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.
Eric Schurenberg email@example.com
EDITOR’S LETTER 14 - INC. - FEBRUARY 2017