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10 tips for building fast-growth firms

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Starting and building fast-growth businesses, especially to sell or make them public, seems to be an idea whose time has come. Here are a list of 10 principles of success while undertaking such an entrepreneurial pursuit:

1. Know the end from the beginning. A possible business goal might be to build a $10 million company. Once that is decided, all decisions such as hiring, leasing, manufacturing and marketing are based on the end goal. The same is for considerations such as legal identities, board of directors and accounting methods.2. Get on industry "up elevators" rather than down elevators. Choosing an industry that is on the front side of a growth curve is vital to real success. If you can get up on an industry growth wave, and then aggressively create your own wave for your individual business, you have double the leverage for rapid company growth.

3. Hire really good people. Offer them a share of the profits or phan-tom stock, if necessary, rather than real stock or equity so you maintain control until you find out how good they really are. Be jealous of every share unless you need to use equity to get the best talent there is. If so, design a vesting plan with automatic stock surrendering if they leave the company before the harvest. Give stock out in shares rather than percentages.

4. Leverage your time. Use assistants to do all the grunt work as early in the life of the company as possible. Have them do all basic tasks that you can delegate, such as clerical work, bookkeeping, shipping, research, invoicing, collecting, bank deposits, check writing (not signing) and all other routine tasks. Figure your hourly rate and hire many others for less to help you accomplish more.

5. Get daily, weekly and monthly reports from the field. Insist on flash reports so you can instantly know where the company is on every critical issue, such as cash flow, sales, inventory, accounts receivable, days sales outstanding. With these key indicators at your finger tips you can make corrections quickly to stay on course.

6. Don't attend meetings unless you are really needed for decision making, delegation, or follow-up reports. At meetings, make sure every issue is resolved with assignments being made, completion dates being assigned and meeting minutes being distributed within 24 hours. Have an assistant follow up to make sure tasks are completed.

7. Write goals for every area of your life and business. Review them weekly and chart every task completed toward the attainment of the goal. If you do this, you will be amazed, yes, amazed at how much you will be able to accomplish each year.

8. Don't burn yourself out with 15-hour work days. I prefer ten hour days coupled with half days on Saturdays. If you work 52 half Saturdays, you will have the equivalent of an extra 26 days a year. You will then have 13 months to become successful when your competitors only have twelve months or less.

9. Have an actual outside board of directors, a phantom board, or a set of experienced advisers who meet with you often to give you advice. If they buy into what you are trying to accomplish, with their experience and contacts, they can help you and your company be successful and reach your written goals years earlier.

10. Reward yourself and your spouse often. You can't be successful and happy, as I count success, without a spouse by your side during the lean years and also the years after you have reaped your entrepreneurial harvest. Stay near to your children during all the years of their lives. Never crowd them out of your life. Once out, it is almost impossible to get them in again.

Someone wise once said, "If you work for five years like no one else will, you can live the rest of your life like no one else can."

Creating and growing a new venture with the goal of fast growth and then selling it may well allow you to spend the rest of your life doing the important things that really matter.