Like me, they would have positively delighted in the premise of the June Entrepreneur, which presents the mag's 12th annual "Hot 100" list of fastest-growing new businesses. Unlike me, their good manners and lack of editorial sophistication would have prevented them from suggesting that the gimmick has long since outlived its utility, and that the publication exists a notch or two below "Entrepreneurship for Dummies" on the intellectual food chain.
Once ads and a two-page cover spread are subtracted from the "Hot 100," the supposedly comprehensive feature runs a mere ten pages. In those pages, the mag offers four airy mini-profiles (and how many small-business aspirants are eager to unearth the secrets of Kayak.com, anyway?) and approximately zero actionable tips or data. The rest of the ranked companies are represented via a teensy blurb listing little more than 2005 sales and a "success secret." Among the latter: "Understand your customers!," "Exceed your customers' expectations" and "There is only one boss: the customer." That sound you hear off in the distance? A slow-blinking, would-be merchant of balsa-wood princess figurines scribbling down the word "customer" and underlining it three times.
Entrepreneur doesn't stop there. Among the tips offered by the "Success Coach" are "consistently move forward" and "stay positive, even if you don't feel like it." The "Get Organized" feature, on the other hand, soberly notes that "the only items that should be on a desk are those that are used often." Yeah, but what about my unicorn snow globe? That any of this passes for insight in a reputable business publication depresses me profoundly.
For everything Entrepreneur does well, it does two things nonsensically. The editor's note actually takes a position (on the government's treatment of the Small Business Association) and proposes a course of action, as opposed to the "June is hot, hot, hot... and so are the stories contained herein!" banter found in most magazines. Pages later, however, the "Forward" section chronicles awkward networking moments (news flash: people are inappropriate) and showcases the 21-year-old founder of Facebook (a story that was legitimately newsworthy 18 months ago).
"Sell" scores points with its quirky look at traveling boutiques and loses them just as quickly with a mind-numbingly obvious item on pay-per-click ads (these "Google" and "Yahoo" folks seem quite the up-and-comers). "Innovation" tantalizes with its explorations of the commercial uses of diamonds and university/entrepreneur partnerships, but the "Tech" look at flat-screen TVs serves no purpose in a biz-first mag. Too, the section's item on click-to-call Web functionality reads like an advertisement for LivePerson, the one vendor featured in it.
Worst is the "Startups" piece on how to found a magazine, which downplays the financial realities of the business (that most new publications don't get past the launch issue) and emphasizes you-can-do-it cheerleading. And, o happy day--it affords the ubiquitous Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni yet another opportunity to preach his "anybody can launch a magazine!!!!" gospel (translated: "please, God, let these suckers keep wasting their money on sure-to-fail titles and coming to me for advice, because I just put down a deposit on a ski chalet").
Separately, if he's going to embrace the moniker of Mr. Magazine, I'm going to have to demand that you people call me El Maestro de los Magazinos from now on. Invest your pronunciation of this with a hint of Latino sizzle, if you will.
I know nothing about business. I don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body (well, except my left clavicle) and only appreciate smart ideas well after the marketplace has affirmed their feasibility. But I know a low-rent publication when I see one, and Entrepreneur fits the description to a T. That this title is regularly mentioned in the same breath as Fortune Small Business or Inc. boggles the mind.