On Wednesday morning I was at the SFO airport about to board when I received a much anticipated text message from my business partner Greg. The Inc. 5000 list came out and we are number 4,284! For those unfamiliar with the Inc. 5000, it’s a ranking of the fastest growing private companies in the US. The Albany Business review also wrote up a short article summarizing the businesses located in the Albany area that are on the list. We are 9th out of 15 companies.
This is one achievement that really means something to me.
I’ve been an Inc. subscriber for about a decade. It was an invaluable resource when transitioning from being an employee to a business owner. When I first saw the Inc. 500/5000 list I said to myself “someday my company will be on that list.” 2015 was the first year that we were eligible. We applied, we made it, and it feels great.
This isn’t going to sell more car care products or probably grow our business in any way. This one was for us. For my partners and I, and for our employees who have helped us grow. It’s just a number on a list, however I can’t help but feel that somehow it makes us more legit. I imagine there are a lot of companies out there with more funding than us, more experience, a larger market, and every other imaginable advantage out there, and yet our tiny little bootstrapped company has been able not only to survive but to thrive.
One thing I miss about myself a decade ago is the fire that I had to prove people wrong. When I was in the process of leaving my job and when we were in the process of starting our company, it felt like everything was working against us and everyone was doubting us. That motivated me. In January of 2006, while in the process of leaving my job, I wrote:
A few weeks in, most people have been overwhelmingly supportive, but it appears that there are a few common misconceptions. I am not “taking a break” from working to “find myself.” I am not going to get a job when I move to NY (that one really drives me nuts).
It’s hard to remember now just how stressful that was to me back then. When people try to be nice to you, but you know deep down that they don’t believe in you and probably think you’re a little crazy. It was frustrating and infuriating, yet endlessly motivating. Hell, it fires me up right now just re-reading that post!
Right or wrong, this feels like “hard proof” to all of those people who doubted us that we finally made it. No matter what happens from here, I haven’t worked a “real job” in almost a decade, and right now, in 2015, we have one of the 5000 fastest growing business in America. When other businesses were failing, we grew 64% in three years. We created jobs. We’ve had fun doing it. That is success to me.