The most frequent question this magazine gets from reporters and readers is: "What's different about starting a business in this economy vs. a non-recession year?" The answer, as surprising as it sounds, is nothing. It still takes a great idea, buckets full of sweat equity, a crack business plan, lofty goals, piles of money (mercurial beast that it is) and a level of courage you can't grasp until you've tried. The key is doing everything better and exploiting opportunities that others might not see. You need to outdo yourself. You need to be brilliant.
How? Start by being fearless--by letting your counterintuitive instincts guide you, just as great entrepreneurs have done during arduous times. A bunker mentality? Not allowed. Same old, same old? Best of luck to you. Wait for a bailout? Hell no. This is the perfect time to be an entrepreneur and try new things--to zig when everyone else is zagging. Just ask the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin--who were both born during dour economic times.
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To embrace that spirit of brilliance in the face of adversity--and to introduce you to others doing the same--we did some counterintuitive thinking of our own. It used to be that we gave you our annual "Hot 100" list every June--a data-driven compilation of companies to watch. This year, we've chosen the hottest 10 markets out there (Millennials, anyone?)--sectors that are defining and juicing the new economy to the tune of double-digit trillions. (Thank you very much, boomers.) Then we sniffed out 10 innovative companies within those industries that are reaping the fruits of their brilliance. The list is comprehensive and spans a vast range of products and services that are zigging while competitors zag.
We're sure they'll inspire brilliance, creativity and, of course, a mantra we like to use here at Entrepreneur: Be fearless.
Amy C. Cosper,