Both my husband and a dear friend own small businesses, so I have a soft heart for small business owners — the long hours they put in, the sacrifices they make, the many hats they wear — who rarely, if ever, get the recognition they deserve for the role they play in our nation’s economy or guidance on how to grow their ventures.

So, I was especially gratified to hear the news that the Small Business Administration and ADP this week launched a new video series that shines a bright spotlight on six companies that began with little more than an idea and an entrepreneurial spirit and now are among well-known brands in their respective industries.

The series, dubbed “America’s Best,” shares the business owners’ keys to success, best practices and lessons learned with today’s entrepreneurs.

“These six people share their personal perspectives and insights into the challenges they faced, along with their failures and successes, while also offering an inspirational look at the resiliency behind America’s spirit of entrepreneurship,” says SBA Administrator Karen Mills.

The companies in the “America’s Best” series are:
1. Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation, Port Washington, Wis. Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds operates 32 retail stores in 17 states, and is among a small minority of companies continuing to produce the majority of their shoes domestically. 
2. Cerner Corporation, Kansas City, Mo. In 1979, the three founders sat around a picnic table and decided to create a company.  Today, Cerner Corporation is an industry leader in medical system design. 
3. Columbia Sportswear Company, Portland, Ore. Rescued from near bankruptcy, Gert Boyle took over operations of Columbia, started by her parents, and turned it into a $1 billion company. 
4. The Gymboree Corporation, San Francisco, Calif. Joan Barnes created Gymboree in 1976 as a place where moms and their children could play and exercise. Since then, it has become a giant corporation that includes almost 600 Gymboree retail clothing stores and nearly 300 Gymboree Play & Music centers worldwide. 
5. Radio One, Inc., Lanham, Md. Among the largest African-American owned and operated media corporations in the United States, Radio One was started by Catherine L. Hughes in 1980.  Radio One owns and/or operates 53 radio stations located in 16 urban markets in the United States. 
6. Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif. Founded in 1964, Ruiz Foods is the top seller of frozen Mexican dishes in the United States.  Under the brand names of El Monterey and Tornados, it produces nearly 200 frozen Mexican foods. 

Check out the series then share in the comments what lessons, if any, you gained from the videos on how you might improve the culture, operations or benefits at your company.

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