Growing Strong

Top 50: 41-50

41. Powertek Corp.
Business/IT solutions, Fairfax, VA

Nancy Scott, Samar Ghadry
Began: 2001
Initial Investment: $25,000
2002 sales: $611,000
2006 sales: $7.8 million

Best Advice:
"Always be 100 percent loyal to your customers, and never let them forget that you always have their best interest at heart."

Biggest Challenge:
"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

Jayne Edison
Began:
1999 Initial
Investment: $75,000
2002 sales: $2 million
2006 sales: $15 million

Biggest Challenge:
"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."

Best Advice:
"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
Began: 1998
Initial Investment: $160,000
2002 sales: $521,000
2006 sales: $7 million

Success Secret:
"[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."

Best Advice:
"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

Shoba Purushothaman
Began: 2000 Initial
Investment: $22.6 million
2002 sales: $588,000
2006 sales: $7.5 million

Biggest Challenge:
"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."

Success Secret:
"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
Began:
2002
Initial Investment: $30 million
2002 sales: $200,000
2006 sales: $4 million

Success Secret:
"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."

Best Advice:
"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
Began: 1999
Initial Investment: $2,000
2002 sales: $1.1 million
2006 sales: $10.1 million

Biggest Challenge:
"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."

Success Secret:
"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

Diane Hessan
Began: 1999
Initial Investment: $16 million
2002 sales: $1.6 million
2006 sales: $12.3 million

Biggest Challenge:
"My biggest challenge was keeping everyone inspired and motivated-especially during difficult times. I overcame it with constant communication and openness."

Success Secret:
"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
Began:
1995
Initial Investment: $40,000
2002 sales: $21.8 million
2006 sales: $60 million

Biggest Challenge:
"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."

Inspiration:
"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

Jennine Rexon
Began: 2001
Initial Investment: $0
2002 sales: $325,000
2006 sales: $4.9 million

Success Secret:
"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."

Best Advice:
"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
Began: 2000
Initial Investment: $100,000
2002 sales: $274,000
2006 sales: $4.1 million

Biggest Challenge:
"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."

Best Advice:
"Create core values that define you and your business. MurTech's core values are integrity, passion and work ethic."

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This article was originally published in the November 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Growing Strong.

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