Inc 500 – A Gathering of Business Role Models

Inc 500 and Inc 5000 awardsThe Inc 500 event here at the Chicago Hilton is the largest Inc 500 awards event in its 26-year history. Over 1,400 people are attending. That includes people from the Inc 500 list, as well as the larger (and new this year) Inc 5000 list.

Over 2,700 of those on the Inc 5000 responded to a survey (PDF) that shows some intriguing data. Overall the survey shows healthy businesses that got there by putting their own money at stake:

  • 97% plan to add staff in the next 12 months
  • 95% offer health insurance to their employees
  • 82% self-funded the start up of their busineses

Oh, and let’s not overlook this figure: 88% of the Inc 5000 business owners say they are millionaires. You read that correctly — it is not a typo. Remember, to be on the Inc 5000 list you have to be one of the fastest growing companies in America. Obviously it is a select group and does not represent all small business owners. But I include these statistics because they are bound to inspire you — or perhaps just bring out the competitive spirit in you.

The Inc 500 event is mostly about learning and inspiration. Selected Inc 500 honorees actually get up on stage and share some of what they’ve learned building their companies. I’ll be writing about some of those stories over the next few days.

Everyone attending also got to see and hear from successful business leaders from some of America’s best known companies. For instance, so far we have heard from:

Mark Jarvis, Chief Marketing Officer of Dell — Mark spoke about the new Web, and had some advice for those on the Inc 500/5000 about what you must do to market your business today.

Scott Cook, founder of Intuit (makers of QuickBooks) — Scott spoke about how to get the best from employees and how to serve and relate to customers.

Susan Sobbott, Pesident of American Express OPEN — Susan introduced a brand new Amex OPEN card today, called the Plum card. Judging from the spontaneous applause that broke out at a couple of points, I predict it will be a very popular product. I’ll explain exactly why in a later post.

The Inc 500 event is also a time to network and make or renew connections. I even got to meet up with friends and colleagues. For instance, John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing is here. John and I have known one another for several years online and have met before at events. So it was good to chat with him and share our own entrepreneurial experiences building our own businesses.

This is the first Inc 500 event I’ve ever attended. Typically the event is open only to the Inc 500 honorees, plus sponsors and select media. I was fortunate enough to get a press pass so I could attend (thank you, Inc magazine and American Express OPEN!).

This afternoon former President Bill Clinton will be here to speak. Gotta go to make sure I get a seat — more to come later ….


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

3 Reactions
  1. What a great event this must have been…all that great knowledge in one room. The percentages… a great incentive.

  2. Small town girl from Ohio make it big in Chicago! Say HI to Bill for us all.

    Ever the ubiqitous Anita Campbell!

  3. It’s very encouraging to hear that businesses are still expanding their staff. The media usually feeds us the negative reports of downsizing and bad economy stats. It’s also great to hear that they offer the always important health care. Sounds like you will have a great time there.