Inc. Magazine November 2021

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures LLC, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders.

United States
Mansueto Ventures LLC
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
lessons and leadership

When I started at Inc., just a few weeks before the pandemic, I admitted on this page that I came from a clan of failed entrepreneurs. The patriarch of that family, my grandfather and namesake, was a child of the Depression and an entirely self-made man. Sadly, he entirely unmade himself, too. Like many entrepreneurs, he saw opportunity and was creative and most definitely hard working. He went from time in a DuPont factory during World War II to owning what was then called a filling station, and from there to a school-bus company for a growing post-war town and ultimately to a construction company started when that same town discovered the joys of municipal sewer systems. Then he used what we’d call those “core competencies” to branch out into running…

1 min
hire your customers

ONE YEAR AFTER launching organic baby food startup Little Spoon in 2017, Michelle Muller and her co-founders were still handling customer service for the company on their own—until one day, when a parent Muller was corresponding with asked for a job. That’s when Muller was struck by a notion so obvious it was easy to overlook: Parents would be really good at talking to other parents. Muller and her co-founders began to build out a distributed customer-care team composed entirely of (you guessed it) parents. Little Spoon now encourages its care team to engage with customers about more than just product selection, and to offer support when, say, a customer with a 2-year-old asks, “Does this get any easier?” Or, “Is this normal?” It was the latter question—which pops up again…

2 min
the right way is rarely easy

BRAD BAXTER, FOUNDER AND CEO OF WHISKER “As a kid, I saw my dad struggle as an entrepreneur—and I didn’t realize that I was on that same path until one day, I was down in the basement, cleaning a mess my cats had made because their litterbox wasn’t clean enough, and I started thinking, how can I make this easier for myself and better for the cats? There was a self-cleaning litterbox already on the market, but it really didn’t work. I’d been thinking about a concept that would work with gravity, using a sifting rotational method, and started making some sketches. As is often the case, I lacked capital; I didn’t have enough cash to invest in the tools needed to make a prototype. My dad, though, was willing to take a…

1 min
when to marry your enemies

Jim Magats, PayPal’s senior vice president of payments and SMB solutions, says that since joining the company in 2004, he’s heard PayPal’s demise predicted many times—when Apple Pay came out in 2014, when PayPal was banned in Greece in 2015, and again that year when the company ended a 13-year alliance with eBay. But it wasn’t until 2016, when credit card firms got fed up with PayPal discouraging users from linking their plastic to complete transactions, that Magats—along with CEO Dan Schulman, former CCO Gary Marino, and former COO Bill Ready—found an unbeatable enemy.…

2 min
i wasn’t open to criticism

In 2014, Biggby Coffee CEO Mike McFall knew morale was crumbling in his Midwest coffee shop franchiser. The “midnight move-outs” were, for him, a red flag: Employees were resigning without even leaving a note. Plus, McFall and his co-CEO weren’t finding meaning in their work anymore. “Survival was no longer a question,” McFall says. “So what was the point of it all?” That’s when a chance encounter made him face some hard truths. “I went camping with my brother and son in 2014, and we shared a fire pit with a consultant who was talking about conscious capitalism. I handed him my card, and he came and did a survey of our employees. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever read. People said things like, ‘It’s an abusive relationship.’ I realized…

2 min
making sustainability sustainable

How will the sustainability industry change over the next year? We will continue to see conscious consumerism grow. Industries are being forced to own up to the environmental cost of convenience that society had previously demanded above all else. Gen-Z, for example, has been known to boycott fast fashion companies whose products end up in landfills. The next decade? There will be an increased focus on “the how.” Manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of goods and services will be held to higher standards of transparency. That begins at the inception of the supply chain, what materials we use, how factory workers are treated—all the way through to the point of purchase and receipt. For us at Healthynest, it means working with our carbon-neutral facility to enhance our diaper with organic cotton, knowing that conventional…