Why were so many Inc. 500 companies founded during the recession? Because a good idea is more powerful than a bad environment.The self-help prophet Napoleon Hill was a particularly fecund source of inspirational aphorisms. Entrepreneurs take many of his maxims as gospel, including this one: “Don’t wait.
Friends in high places can help your company take off--but big endorsements cost big bucks. See how these companies found famous fans.When Shaun Neff launched Neff Headwear a decade ago, he knew his streetwear line could get a big boost if he could find some high-profile fans. But as a start-up, he lacked the cash needed to pay celebrities to endorse his products. So he reached out instead to users who'd have street (or ski slope) cred, giving away Neff beanies and headbands to amateur snowboarders.The brand took off, eventually picking up genuine organic interest from celebrities like Lil Wayne. And as the company expanded beyond the “surf, skate, and snow” niche, Neff was able to start paying celebs to wear his wares.