Each year, the Entrepreneur 360 list celebrates well-rounded companies that are growing, thriving, and building legacies. Here’s how we identify them.
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What does a successful company look like? Marc Randolph offered an answer earlier in this issue. He’s the cofounder and first CEO of Netflix, and he suggested that every entrepreneur ask themselves a fundamental question: Why are we doing the things we do? “If people are doing this because they think they’re going to be rich? Not going to happen,” he said. “If they think they’re doing it because they’re going to be famous? Not going to happen. You have to do this because fundamentally, you love solving problems.”
This is true — and it’s also a good way to set expectations. “Solving problems” is simply the only thing an entrepreneur can control. Nobody can engineer wealth or fame, but we can devote ourselves to the grinding, occasionally thrilling, deeply satisfying task of picking apart problems and engineering solutions. Our expectations should be set there. Our goal is to fix things. And if we do it well, a company will be born out of our ideas. (And then, that company will create even more problems to solve!)
Randolph’s answer is also important because it sets up what comes next. If you create a company with the sole intention of amassing wealth, you’ll create a hungry, rabid, unstable entity. If you create a company with the intention of attracting fame, you’ll create a top-down organization that serves only your own needs. But if you create a company to solve a problem, you’ll attract people who are similarly minded, and you’ll all push each other to improve. This is the kind of company we want to celebrate. It’s the reason Entrepreneur 360 exists.
At Entrepreneur, we believe in building companies that last. We want to help entrepreneurs create legacies. And this is why we designed Entrepreneur 360 the way we did. It doesn’t just look at growth percentages or revenue figures, because we know those digits tell only a small part of a company’s story. (Think of the last startup that flashed around its 5,000 percent annual growth and hundreds of millions in revenue — revenue that, we’ll all generally come to learn, masked millions more in losses.) Instead, we took on the challenge of weighing the hard stuff: We looked at valuation and growth, yes, but also a company’s impact on its community and industry, the quality of its innovation, and the strength of its leadership. We wanted to see not just what a company’s output is, but the quality of its insides. We wanted to understand its team as much as its term sheets.
To do this, we asked for a lot of confidential information (and yes, we’re keeping it confidential). We did a lot of research. We built a process that evaluated companies holistically, not just by dollar signs. And when we crunched the numbers, these companies rose to the top. They are the exemplars of well-rounded companies — the ones that look at business from a 360-degree view.
Our hope is that by celebrating companies this way, we help change the narrative about what success looks like. You’ll have heard of some of these companies, but many others fly under the radar. They haven’t sought fame or fortune, so to speak. But they deserve the recognition and the revenue.
That, after all, is what it means to be a problem solver. You’re in the trenches. You’re focused on the task at hand. And then, if you do it right, every once in a while, you’ll stick your head up from the ground and be reminded that you’re a winner. Then you’ll get back to work.
Check out this year’s Entrepreneur 360 list and accompanying stories here.