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Rebel with Causes


We salute business owners who relish breaking the rules

One of my favorite pieces in this issue is staff writer Amy S. Choi's interview with Yvon Chouinard, the founder of outdoor outfitter Patagonia. Chouinard talks about his early days as a self-described "dirtbag" and his company's philanthropic efforts, but he also says that to understand entrepreneurs, it's best to study juvenile delinquents. In his words: "They're both saying: This sucks and I'm going to do it another way. You have to want to break the rules and show that your way works."

Perhaps no group of business owners embodies that spirit better than those featured in our Cover Story. As Staff Writer Jeremy Quittner shows, these entrepreneurs are more accurately characterized as antipreneurs. They're quite serious about growing their businesses and making money, but they're no fans of capitalism in its current form. They think Corporate America is in general hypocritical, they dislike the globalization that threatens many small companies, and they have absolutely no use for traditional advertising. Instead, they put a priority on producing goods sustainably and making sure workers are treated well. So far, none of this seems to have hurt their businesses. In fact, it's won them customers just as opinionated as they are. Is this the new face of entrepreneurship? Or do antipreneurs represent a short-lived phenomenon that will never successfully challenge the status quo? We'll keep you posted.

Back to BWSmallBiz June/July 2008 Table of Contents

Kimberly Weisul is editor of BusinessWeek SmallBiz .

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