What makes a top entrepreneur? Earning this status takes more than just smarts, acute business acumen, and a track record of success. To rank above one’s peers, one must offer a truly unique vision and disrupt the status quo.
Below, find the top 11 entrepreneurs to watch in 2023.
1. Steve Wiideman, Co-Founder and CEO of Wiideman Consulting Group
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert Steve Wiideman launched Wiideman Consulting Group to help brands (especially franchisees, multi-location businesses, and e-commerce retailers) dominate the search results in their industries. During his more than twenty-two years of experience in the inbound marketing industry, he has provided strategy, planning, and campaign oversight to major corporations including Honda, Disney, Skechers, Applebee’s, IHOP, Dole, Linksys, Public Storage, and Belkin. He calls himself a “scientist and practitioner of local and e-commerce search engine optimization and paid search advertising.”
Toward this end, Wiideman has developed a groundbreaking SEO Roadmap that consistently generates impressive results for clients. While influencing Google may seem intimidating, his SEO Roadmap simplifies the process, organizing search strategy into different categories according to different businesses’ needs. When it comes to boosting natural search results, Wiideman’s approach emphasizes relevancy, user behavior, and visibility. When it comes to local search, his system highlights the importance of data, landing pages, citations, and reputation management.
Thousands of small and medium-sized businesses have profited from Wiideman’s expertise. Perhaps it’s not surprising, therefore, that Wiideman won the “Industry MVP” award at C3 Searchies, a conference for SEO professionals, in 2018.
If that wasn’t already enough, Wiideman literally wrote the book on SEO strategy. He is co-author of Stukent’s college textbook “SEO: Strategy & Skills,” which teaches students how to measure and boost SEO results for projects of their own. He also created the Website Optimization and Strategic Search Engine Marketing online course for California State University Fullerton, and the SEO Tools and Analytics course at University of California San Diego, which he also teaches.
2. Sheryl Teo, Founder and CEO of Popcorn Growth
Sheryl Teo, Founder and CEO of Popcorn Growth, helps clients leverage social media and influencer marketing to boost their brands. Specializing in TikTok campaigns, Teo’s company works with social media influencers and content creators to produce addictive short-form videos for brands, deploying these posts strategically to best activate their audience, resulting in skyrocketing views. In this way, Popcorn Growth helps clients build long-term strategies to benefit their bottom line. The company has worked with major brands, such as Kimberly Clark, Lids, Universal Music Group, Samsonite, Purple, Clarins and Thrive Market — among others.
Teo has a long history of exceptional business success. She got her start as a portfolio manager at JP Morgan Asset Management. By the time she left at 28 years old, she was responsible for more than $160 million in assets.
“At Popcorn Growth, I combine my quantitative background in finance with my expertise in social media,” Teo explains. As a result, her company delivers a unique, data-driven method that turns social-media success into a predictable science and enables decision-makers to rely on solid evidence when making future planning decisions.
As a Singaporean woman who lives and works in the United States, Teo is sensitive to diversity issues. Accordingly, Popcorn Growth has developed a proprietary algorithm that eliminates unfair bias from the process of selecting influencers and paying them. “We’re dedicated to bringing out the full creative potential of the content creators we work with,” Teo says. “We regard each influencer as an all-in-one creative shop and support them throughout the entire process, from the initial concept through development, to post-production and distribution.”
3. Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal, Founder & Chief Resilience Officer of the Resilience Leadership Institute
Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal is the #1 international expert on resilience, mental health, and well-being, in leadership and life. “Dr. Taryn Marie”, as she is known, is shifting the dialogue and dispelling commonly held myths surrounding resilience. Her work is catching fire, and her TEDx Talk, “How Resilience Breaks Us Out of Our Vulnerability Cage,” has been viewed over 1.3 million times.
“Anyone can learn to more effectively face what I call The 3 C’s: Challenge, Change, and Complexity and create a more positive outcome,” Dr. Taryn Marie says. “My mission is to make a positive impact on one billion people’s lives, to enhance hope, healing, and health, along with increasing consciousness and leadership skill through The Five Practices of Highly Resilient People.”
Having studied resilience for more than two decades, interviewing hundreds of people and collecting thousands of pieces of data, she developed The Five Practices framework to support people in facing their most difficult experiences when she noticed that people often didn’t know how to productively respond to adversity. To pursue her vision of spearheading a resilience movement across the globe, Dr. Taryn Marie founded the Resilience Leadership Institute (RLI), which provides keynote speaking, executive coaching, workshops & training, executive retreats, and online courses. In addition, her company offers inspirational information for people who are grappling with trauma or simply want to build a better life for themselves and their family members. She recently released the bestselling book, “The 5 Practices of Highly Resilient People: Why Some Flourish When Others Fold,” which outlines practical techniques to help people “bounce forward” (rather than bounce back) after life-changing experiences.
Prior to founding RLI, Dr. Taryn Marie served as the Head of Executive Leadership Development & Talent Strategy at Nike as well as the Head of Global Leadership Development at Cigna across the company’s 86 offices around the world. Global Gurus named her a 2023 Top 30 Thinker in Leadership, and she was a 2022 finalist for the Tony Hsieh Award, which recognizes human capital innovators who help organizations empower employees to attain their maximum potential. Her powerful, life-affirming approach has been featured by major news outlets, including NBC News, Bloomberg Business, Thrive Global, Forbes, and Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper.
Dr. Taryn Marie earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park. She also completed pre- and post-doctoral fellowships in neuropsychology at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.
4. Alex Hormozi, Founder of Acquistion.com
Celebrity entrepreneur and author Alex Hormozi can grow your business like no one else. In only 10 years, he has gone from starting his own first brick-and-mortar business to becoming one of the foremost experts in the world on monetization, acquiring customers, and scaling businesses.
Hormozi is probably most famous for founding Gym Launch, the company that guides fitness centers toward massive success. After starting his own gym and opening up six locations, he sold his locations for a profit and decided to focus on turnarounds, helping struggling businesses recover and become profitable. Relying on the same business model that powered his gyms, he successfully saved more than 32 brick-and-mortar companies.
Hormozi’s model for scaling businesses has proved pivotal for thousands of businesses. He also founded four different enterprises in wildly different industries: eCommerce, service, software, and brick-and-mortar). In only four years, he took these businesses to more than $120 million in total sales.
Not many entrepreneurs can say that have successfully scaled and exited not from one, not from two, but from seven companies — but that’s exactly what Hormozi has done. One exit alone reaped more than $46 million.
Having amassed an enormous personal fortune, he founded investment company Acquisition.com, which focuses on service and software businesses that generate high cash flow without incurring heavy assets. As the company’s website explains, their mission is “to make real business education available to everyone. Most entrepreneurs lack the WHO, the WHAT, and the HOW to SCALE. At Acquisition.com we recruit the who, give them the what, and show them the how. And once an entrepreneur has all three, their business scales.”
Similarly, Hormozi has made it his personal mission to help level the playing field for entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds. Giving them his time and advice, he works to ensure a more equitable future for all.
5. Scotty Carter, Founder of MobiFirst
In today’s world, most people access the internet with their smartphones, yet most websites are designed with laptops and computer screens in mind. To fix this problem, Scotty Carter founded MobiFirst, the world’s leading mobile-first website design company, which helps entrepreneurs design websites for their businesses that prioritize the mobile experience.
“MobiFirst is a complete web design and development platform that centers the experience of mobile users,” Carter explains. “We assume the audience is on a mobile device and design the online experience with that in mind. Then we scale the website up for desktop users.”
This approach results in fast, responsive, flexible websites that are also visually appealing on all kinds of devices. With MobiFirst websites, businesses meet their target audiences where they are, rather than where they wish they would be, thereby engaging customers better.
“We’ve spurred a whole movement in the web development community,” Carter says. “Lots of people immediately understand how important it is to make the internet more accessible, regardless of what device someone is using.”
MobiFirst’s platform offers a full suite of resources for building mobile-first websites, including empty templates that can be personalized and performance-optimization tools. Businesses of all sizes and kinds – from family businesses to eCommerce retailers – have employed the company’s services to connect better with their customers.
6. Marcus Soori, Founder of Tricorder.Zero™
The future of healthcare will never be the same. Marcus Soori has launched a revolutionary new electronic device that tracks individuals’ health and wellness better than ever — Tricorder.Zero.
A handheld device, Tricorder.Zero™ uses seven sensors to measure and analyze data about patients’ health in areas of the body including the ear/nose/throat, and outer eye and skin, among others. It also monitors heart electrical patterns, forehead temperature, pulse, and sounds in the heart/lungs/abdomen. It calculates blood oxygenation levels, as well as the amount of body fat and muscle tone of a user. Tricoder.Zero™ makes all this possible in a single, easy-to-use device.
“Telehealth visits have increased in popularity and are more important than ever,” says Soori. “This device is designed to enable health providers to see their patients’ health metrics during video calls. Tricorder.Zero™ gives them a more complete picture of an individual’s health, helping them make more confident diagnoses and treatment decisions. It also enables providers to triage cases effectively and monitor patients with chronic conditions, no matter where they may be located.”
At a time when physician shortages have made telehealth solutions more important than ever, especially in rural and remote areas, Tricoder.Zero™ promises to improve patient outcomes while making healthcare more accessible to all. “Patients will no longer need to travel in-person to far-away medical facilities,” Soori explains. “They also won’t have to sit in the waiting room until their turn is called.”
In short, Tricorder.Zero™ will make medical care more efficient and cost-effective than ever, benefiting patients, providers, and insurers alike.
7. Patrice Shavone Brown, CEO of Restoring Bodies and Minds, LLC
Patrice Shavone Brown — a mental health counselor with 20 years of experience — founded her mental-health counseling service in North Carolina, Restoring Bodies and Minds, LLC, 12 years ago. Brown’s passion is helping others heal, stop feeling stuck, and seize their best lives.
“My greatest satisfaction comes from empowering people and assisting their healing through the power of words,” she says. “Everyone encounters adversity at times in their lives. My job is to help them shift their mindset so they can overcome their challenges.”
Brown is also a renowned author with multiple books to her credit. In “A Fat Girl’s Confidence Guide,” she confronts our society’s unrealistic ideals of beauty. “I don’t have a perfect, plastic-factory body, but I have learned to embrace it and be proud,” she says. “I choose to live my life fat, free, and fabulous! I want to motivate others to do the same. That’s why I wrote this book.”
In the self-help book for adults “Secrets of a Crazy Mental Health Counselor,” Brown explains her own life experiences to inspire people to accept and overcome their own mental-health issues. In the children’s book “The Day Momma Made Me Dance,” she tells the story of a young girl who must come to terms with life’s restrictions. “We Blend Well Together,” another children’s book, helps kids understand why families split up and how new ones can happily come together.
Her most recent book, “Surviving the Mental Health Jungle: Mental Health Professional Guide for Everyone,” addresses mental health professionals and explains how they can best support their clients. “Mental health professionals want to make a difference in the world and lead their clients toward happiness and wellbeing,” Brown says. “This book outlines everything they need to know in order to be successful, from launching their own practice to developing their counseling skills.”
8. Luke Richbourg, Founder of Richbourg Law
Work-life balance is uncommon among Wall Street attorneys, but Luke’s practice is a case study in the possible. Raised among artists, Luke came to envision a “brass ring” of a different character, leaving his role as a partner with a major New York City law firm to pursue a private practice. Luke specializes in sophisticated finance and transactional legal work, serving smaller clients poorly served by Big Law’s incentive, staffing and billing practices.
With over 25 years experience, Luke frequently negotiates with AmLaw 100 counterparts. Yet Luke enjoys the flexibility of owning his own business. Of course a lifestyle practice sacrifices big-firm deal flow, status and financial rewards. But for Luke, the flexibility more than compensates. Meantime, low overhead means economical rates for clients and bottom line revenues. The model may interest attorneys weary of the grind, face-time, and politics.
Luke’s clients include middle-market financial advisors, regional banks, and emerging companies.
Latin America features prominently in Luke’s background. “In Brazil, I co-founded ComJunta, an aggregate buying B2B, and worked with Pactual Electra, a private equity fund,” he explains. “In Argentina, I worked on debt restructuring, joint ventures, and M&A deals.” Such eclectic experience colors Luke’s business-oriented approach. “I pride myself on delivering well-rounded advice drawing on my years in law, finance, and entrepreneurship,” he says.
Luke earned a BA at Dartmouth, a masters at Stanford GSB, and a JD at Cornell, where he was Managing Editor of the Law Review. Luke speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese.
9. Denice Viktoria Staaf, Founder of Labeling Sustainability
Labeling Sustainability is not your average sustainability consulting firm. It is a company founded on passion, expertise, and a solid commitment to serving its clients. Led by Denice Viktoria Staaf, a seasoned sustainability expert with over 13 years of experience, Labeling Sustainability aims to help organizations integrate sustainability into their operations and strategies to drive long-term success.
Sustainability is no longer an option; it is a critical business issue. Investors, consumers, and governments are increasingly pressuring organizations to prioritize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. This has led to a surge in demand for sustainability consulting services, and the role of the sustainability manager has become more critical than ever before.
Since Staaf launched her consultancy, the business landscape has evolved. “New regulations and the focus on ESG are making it increasingly important for companies to address their sustainability challenges,” Staaf says. “Our company can help. We understand the problems businesses face in creating credible sustainability targets, and we create bespoke solutions that systematically drive results and profits.”
Due to the unparalleled expertise of Staaf and her team, Labeling Sustainability has become the top provider of sustainability solutions in an extensive range of industries. “We help our clients navigate every step of the process, from identifying opportunities through tools such as LCA and process mapping to developing strategies and measuring progress across multiple quarters and years,” Staaf says. “We create a system focused on cost-effectiveness, practicality, and collaboration, which consistently yields success.” Providing cost-effective solutions means clients can achieve sustainability targets without breaking the bank.
Denice Viktoria Staaf’s expertise and passion for sustainability are evident in her upcoming book, Organizational Sustainability and Risk Management: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide, Second Edition, due out in early summer 2023. This book offers a comprehensive guide to building sustainable organizations that can thrive in a changing world.
Labeling Sustainability knows how to wield sustainability to enable clients to dominate their industries and improve their bottom lines. That’s why more and more companies turn to Staaf and her team each year, and previous customers keep returning, making Labeling Sustainability their outsourced Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO).
10. Ean Williams, Founder of Corjor International and DC Fashion Week
Ean Williams has emerged as a major force in the fashion industry. His label, Corjor International, offers cutting-edge streetwear and evening-wear designs. While his line features exemplary outfits, he spends most of his time developing one-off bespoke fashion designs for local and national celebrities.
“I’ve been fortunate to have many big names choose my designs,” Williams says. When pressed for examples, he listed Fantasia, Victoria Rowell from “The Young and the Restless,” Omarosa Manigault Newman from “The Apprentice,” winners of “America’s Next Top Model” Nyle DiMarco and Keith Carlos, and Emmy-award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph from “Dreamgirls” on Broadway and UPN sitcom “Moesha.” “Most recently, I’ve dressed singer-songwriter Candiace Dillard-Bassett from ‘The Housewives of Potomac’ and recording artist Tamar Braxton, who won ‘Celebrity Big Brother,’” he says.
His work was also featured in British Vogue, BizBash Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, and MetroWeekly DC.
A former professional actor and model himself, Williams also founded DC Fashion Week, a nonprofit organization that hosts events for the fashion industry in Washington, DC. DC Fashion Week’s parties and fashion shows attract fashionistas of all kinds, including designers, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers, journalists, bloggers, influencers, agents, buyers, and retailers. They take place twice a year in the early spring and fall.
Williams also serves as fashion designer for Magnum Underwear. His work has been featured in major publications including “British Vogue,” “The Washington Post,” and “Time Magazine.”
11. Cris Cawley, CEO of Game Changer Publishing
Award-winning publishing and marketing veteran Cris Cawley can take an unpublished business expert and shave months — sometimes even years — off the traditional book publishing timeline, turning business experts into bestselling authors to help them gain maximum global visibility and impact. Cawley’s company has become the trusted go-to authority in the book publishing space for entrepreneurs in recent years.
“Having a best selling book is literally a game-changer for entrepreneurs and business leaders in today’s marketplace,” Cawley explains. “There’s no faster or easier way to establish yourself as the trusted authority in your industry.”
Hitting bestseller status on all of the platforms and lists out there is not easy and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. With 20 plus years of industry experience under her belt, Cawley and her team at Game Changer Publishing have nailed down the exact book marketing blueprint to help every author they invite to publish under their coveted label, to achieve their goal of marketing their book to bestseller status.
“We start by helping clients identify their target market,” Cawley explains. “We also position our clients’ books so that the author can build a list of names and emails of all book buyers and then we help drive book readers from the book to a backend funnel to help the author generate new prospects for their business.” When prospective customers read nonfiction books, they generally become dedicated fans. Therefore driving readers to an author’s backend business or offer in their book is a sure way to connect with potential clients and create a loyal crowd of fans who want and need what the author has to offer.
Cawley got her start in the internet marketing and publishing industry over 20 years ago. To date, her consulting, courses, programs, and publishing services have helped more than 155,000 entrepreneurs and business leaders scale their personal brands and grow their businesses. “I love helping people master the book publishing and book marketing maze,” she says. “There’s nothing better than helping authors bring their expertise to the world and make a positive impact while doing so.”
Game Changer Publishing has worked with numerous well known celebrities and entrepreneur authors, including Tarek El Moussa from HGTV’s hit “Flip or Flop” show, Anthony Morrison, Myron Golden, Dr. Delatorro McNeal, Dr. Alok Trivedi, Farrah Ali, Lisa Cox, Kathleen Chabus, Erin Lopez and Alex Noelle, to name a few.
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