I started reading Inc. and Entrepreneur Magazines monthly last year. I like both magazines about equally but for different reasons. I let my subscription slide on Entrepreneur so I am only going to speak to Inc. Magazine.
Inc. Magazine has a case study featured every month that looks at a specific company’s business decision on some issue and then experts weigh in. The articles usually entail some dire consequences facing a company and the decision made by the CEO to handle the problem. These articles are always interested and informative but you never really find out if the final decision was the right one.
Starting in 2006 Norm Brodsky ran a nine part article entitled “The Offer”  on on his attempt to sell one of his multimillion dollar businesses. Norm seems perpetually out of touch with the average entrepreneur. I believe his success has placed the problems he faces and his mentality on a different level. For example the last article I read of his was about choosing a company to service a multimillion dollar policy. But he is interesting to read none the less, kind of like the crazy old uncle that on rare occasions gives some true gems…but mostly you just find your self saying “Oh Norm…”
One of my favorite sections is the “Business for Sale” section which features a short bio, key financial data, justification for pricing and a short analysis of the potential. I have always been keen on business brokering and the articles are great with keeping up to speed on industry capitalization rates.
My least favorite part of the magazine is that most of the remainder is filled with anecdotal success stories. Starting and growing a business takes a lot of knowledge, skills, and resources. Inc. and to a lesser extent, Entrepreneur, offer stories of wildly successful businesses and entrepreneurs who seem to have obtained their success by accident or with ease. Others, are blowing $100,000 a month of Venture Capital only to see little if any sales. The same monthly amount could sustain the average reader’s businesses for a year or more. Show me a story of how a person turned an 80K bank loan into a million dollar company…and then tell my how they did it.
Don’t get me wrong…I love to read about successful small businesesses but, I don’t think their success necessarily teaches you how to be successful yourself. I am just not sure how a bio story on Bob Cramer or Evan Williams of Twitter  can help me…a micro business owner. (By the way - I think twitter is evidence of social decline despite it’s intentions to the contrary.)
I have often thought that there is room in the market for a small business magazine…no…a micro business magazine that tackles the issues faced by a sub-100K start-up. A magazine that shows how the local restaurant was started, or the service company that dominates a local market and pulls down a comfortable living. Something more like the typical entrepreneur who probably makes 40K-80K a year.
Anybody out there read Fast Company (I haven’t) so I can’t speak to them but I would be interested in your thoughts.