NEW YORK—-In their own words, 11 top entrepreneurs reveal how they got their groundbreaking ideas and created some of the world’s greatest corporations along the way

What sets the greatest American entrepreneurs apart isn’t what they do–but how they do it.

For the first time, FSB: FORTUNE Small Business devotes an entire issue to the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. Written in first person accounts, eleven business innovators including Michael Dell of Dell Computers; Fred Smith, founder of FedEx; Donna Dubinsky, co-creator of Handspring and Palm; and Robert Johnson of BET Holdings, reveal the details of their success and the innovative ideas and hard work that have made them champion entrepreneurs. This special report, “How We Got Started”, is featured in the October 2002 issue of FSB: FORTUNE Small Business, available on newsstands Monday, September 30, and at on Tuesday, September 24.

Does an entrepreneurial “eureka moment” exist? In an introductory essay, FSB Executive Editor Joshua Hyatt examines how contrary to popular belief, the founders of the most successful contemporary business ventures did not have a single “eureka moment”, but rather a stretch of time with intense focus on learning from mistakes and keeping an eye on the goal. Hyatt also states “the difference between these folks and the rest of us is that they had the guts to act on their dream rather than just sit around.” Culling insights from the issue’s highlighted entrepreneurs, along with recent research into the `entrepreneurial mind’, Hyatt finds that what may be most important today, is that these great innovators are obsessed with creating wealth not only for themselves, but also for their investors.

Each of the eleven entrepreneurs featured in this special issue chronicles his or her hard road to success, along with introductions by Editorial Director Brian

Dumaine, Editor-at-Large David Whitford, Executive Editor Joshua Hyatt, and Senior Editor Arlyn Gajilan, and reveal that–in the words of Fred Smith of FedEx–many have not been afraid to “take a swing and miss.” For some, such as Scott Cook of Intuit, whose Quicken software nearly failed twice, it has taken years of loss and financial struggle to reap the rewards. And for many, initial resistance to their innovative ideas has been the biggest foe. But as Jake Burton Carpenter, creator of Burton Snowboards and FSB’s cover subject, says, “They were laughing at me once, and they’re not laughing anymore.”

“The Innovators Hall of Fame”, an accompanying feature by FSB Writer Jennifer Keeney, looks at the legendary entrepreneurs who, over the past two centuries, changed their industries–and the world–in the process. From Ruth Handler’s Barbie of 1959, to Milton Hershey’s chocolate empire, and Sam Walton’s first Wal-Mart in 1962, these great entrepreneurs have forever changed the way we do business.

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