The winter of 1982 was a bleak time for Canadian entrepreneurs. It was the era of big business and even bigger government. The prime interest rate was 17%. A painful recession was in full effect and getting worse.

But in April of that year, a ray of light cracked through the dark clouds when the Financial Post division of Maclean Hunter Publishing launched The Magazine That's All About Small Business . As founding publisher Jim Warrillow explained in a note to readers: "...limitations of space and wider priorities mean that [the Financial Post ] could not, by itself, meet fully the unique and pressing information needs of the small-business community." Founding editor Don Rumball promised his team would "people our pages with small businessmen and women. We'll celebrate their successes, analyze their failures and expose their problems with a view to giving you some pointers on how to hitch a ride on their star." It was a publication about right here, right now, without a grand vision for the community it served or a mission to make entrepreneurship the undisputed engine of prosperity and a social good. The founders even avoided using the word "entrepreneur"; as Rumball explained a decade later, they weren't sure it would fly.

Canada's entrepreneurial sector has made great strides since 1982, and the people who've worked for the magazine now known as PROFIT like to think the magazine has played a substantial role. For the past 30 years, PROFIT has informed and inspired countless entrepreneurs through its reporting, analysis, awards and rankings. Former Dragons' Den star Robert Herjavec launched his first business with the goal of making our list of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies, now called the PROFIT 200. (He did.) Recently, we received a handwritten letter from Robert Allard, the 23-year-old CEO of a fraud-prevention consultancy who has a "dream of being at the top of PROFIT's HOT 50." His office is a cell at B.C.'s Prince George Regional Correctional Centre, where he is serving a one-year sentence for credit-card fraud. "I wonder if my criminal record and my age will get in the way," Allard writes. "Not if I have anything to do with it!"

We've always revered entrepreneurial ambition, endeavour and intelligence. Rumball assertively rejected early advice to "keep it simple, because entrepreneurs are so ignorant they won't know what you're talking about." It's hard to know whether to laugh or invent a time machine and travel back to throw a few punches.

Today, Canada boasts a vibrant startup scene. Entrepreneurship offerings speckle the course calendars of business schools. Dragons' Den doesn't only exist-it's a spinoff-spawning hit. But there remains much work to be done to make Canada the world's Entrepreneurial Nation.

Commerce is still stymied by red tape and bureaucratic inefficiency. Government could change tax policy and securities laws to unlock billions of dollars of investment capital. Mandatory high-school entrepreneurship courses would expose youth early on to the joy and power of the greatest job in the world.

We hope it doesn't take another 30 years to finish our collective mission. But no matter how the future unfolds, PROFIT will be there sounding the charge.

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