41. Powertek Corp.
Business/IT solutions, Fairfax, VA
Nancy Scott, Samar Ghadry
Initial Investment: $25,000
2002 sales: $611,000
2006 sales: $7.8 million
"Always be 100 percent loyal to your customers, and never let them forget that you always have their best interest at heart."
"The biggest initial challenge was to get people to trust our ability to do good as a newcomer. We overcame this by conveying to potential customers that we were a quality organization, and then living up to it once they gave us our first accounts."
42. Office Furniture Innovations
Commercial office furniture, Houston
Began: 1999 Initial
2002 sales: $2 million
2006 sales: $15 million
"For four years, I ran the business from a closet in my home--something my competitors never failed to bring up when vying for a job. I quickly learned the importance of creating a successful image."
"Always recognize the staff that helps you to grow your business. They truly are the 'backbone' of your success. At OFI, we like to say, 'It's not about me, it's about we.'"
43. Dougherty Sprague Environmental
Environmental engineering, Richardson, TX
Cathy West Dougherty
Initial Investment: $160,000
2002 sales: $521,000
2006 sales: $7 million
"[Success] shows, and it's infectious. As an entrepreneur, you cannot 'phone it in.' If you don't love it, if you are not hungry and persistent, you will not make it."
"You must follow the money to get the work.And no one, not even your best employee, cares as much about your business as you do. Never forget that. Other people will be happy to spend your money for you."
44. The NewsMarket
Online video media, New York City
Began: 2000 Initial
Investment: $22.6 million
2002 sales: $588,000
2006 sales: $7.5 million
"I have learned to listen to my gut when choosing the right people. If there's any doubt, it's best not to proceed. It's easy to convince yourself people might change, but that really doesn't happen."
"It may sound so basic, but having 100 percent unwavering faith that you will succeed is something that I think eludes a lot of people who want to take the entrepreneurial path. Understanding this and being able to commit to what it takes is key to achieving success."
45. Real Living
Real estate franchisor, Columbus, OH
Kaira Sturdivant Rouda
Initial Investment: $30 million
2002 sales: $200,000
2006 sales: $4 million
"If you are marketing to women, you need to develop a strong brand because women are three times as likely as men to recommend a product or service based on a brand."
"Trust your instincts and your experience to guide your early decisions. And be true to who you are, because ultimately this is your business, and you have to love it with every ounce of your being to put in the time and energy required to make it successful."
46. Fulgent Media Group
Media planning, Boston
Karen R. Macumber
Initial Investment: $2,000
2002 sales: $1.1 million
2006 sales: $10.1 million
"Starting is easy because you are doing what you love. But for the company to truly scale, your role has to evolve, which means doing less of the work you love and giving up some control."
"Be the client first. Write down everything you like and don't like about the vendors you work with in that area. Now use that list as your guide to create the right service model, then hand-pick a core team and business advisor to support you."
47. Communispace Corp.
Online communications, Watertown, MA
Initial Investment: $16 million
2002 sales: $1.6 million
2006 sales: $12.3 million
"My biggest challenge was keeping everyone inspired and motivated-especially during difficult times. I overcame it with constant communication and openness."
"The secret of our success was listening. We listened very hard to our clients and to our employees, and took action on what they said. Trusting them led us to the right strategy."
48. Advantage Performance Network
Travel/incentives, Savage, MN
Mary Sue Leathers
Initial Investment: $40,000
2002 sales: $21.8 million
2006 sales: $60 million
"9/11 was our biggest challenge. We worked to overcome it by diversifying and finding ways to help other people in the travel industry by providing support services to business owners."
"I had been in the industry for 20 years and with all the changes taking place, there seemed to be a lack of customer service. My No. 1 priority was to bring customer service back to the customer and to create and atmosphere whereby our customers became our partners."
49. Rex Direct Net
Internet marketing, Cherry Hill, NJ
Initial Investment: $0
2002 sales: $325,000
2006 sales: $4.9 million
"Focus on what you do best. It's very tempting to try to become a one-stop shop for all of your clients' needs, but it's not necessarily the best strategy."
"Hire the best people you can. It is not possible to manage and grow a business if you don't have the right mix of people supporting it."
50. MurTech Consulting
IT services, Independence, OH
Ailish M. Murphy
Initial Investment: $100,000
2002 sales: $274,000
2006 sales: $4.1 million
"During the challenging economic times of 2002, MurTech had to persevere and stay the course. I realized that the journey was a marathon, not a sprint."
"Create core values that define you and your business. MurTech's core values are integrity, passion and work ethic."