#5: freightquote.com

Having the right technology, the ability to solve cash flow issues, and a self-sufficient staff prove to be the secrets of this company's success.

Company:freightquote.com,an Overland Park, Kansas, online freight comparison and bookingservice
Founder: Timothy Barton
Began: August 1998
2002 Sales: $46.2 million

When did you know you'd madeit?
Timothy Barton: When we grew out of our office space for thethird time.

When did you think you'd blownit?
Barton: Many of our early hires were high-level salespeoplefrom my prior company. Due to the typical delays in launching a Website, they were on the payroll for four to six weeks with nothingto sell and [were] probably questioning the whole endeavor.

freightquote.comWhat's been your biggestchallenge?
Barton: Early on, technology was an obstacle and provedchallenging. The original hardware/software platform of WindowsNT,Oracle 8.0, DECAlpha servers and Cisco routers and firewalls washighly unstable when linked together. A migrations to Microsoft SQLon Dell Enterprise Servers, running NT/2000 proved significantlymore stable and scaleable.

Managing cash flow was another challenge. Freight companiestypically don't assess finance/late charges and thus don'tcollect their money very quickly. This had trained the shippingcommunity to pay for their services at leisure. In response tothis, freightquote.com initiated an electronic billing option thatallowed customers to pay online via a secure transfer of funds.

What's your business advice forothers?
Barton: Hire self-sustaining people so that as you expand,you can hire creative managers who can focus on growth andopportunities instead of hiring "babysitters" to managepeople.

Where do you see yourself and yourbusiness in 10 years?
Barton: We didn't even exist six years ago, so a 10-yearplan is difficult to envision. With the growth we'reexperiencing, it's very challenging to create a forecast forjust one year. As an entrepreneur, freightquote.com may outgrow me.But with or without me, the company will be self-sufficient.

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