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Practical Help Build a billion-dollar business by mastering the essentials.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Seven stepping stones pave the path to building a billion-dollarbusiness--and you'd better put your foot on at least five ofthem. That's the message of Blueprint to a Billion (Wiley, $27.95).Consultant David G. Thomson scrutinized 250 companies that havegone public since 1980 and reached $1 billion or more in sales andfound each had adhered to at least five of seven essential businesspractices.

The principles include familiar advice such as exploithigh-growth markets, master key metrics and partner with someonewho balances your skills. More unusual essentials include allyingwith big companies and seeking marquee customers. Examples, such ashow Microsoft rose to the top of Thomson's blueprint companyranking by capitalizing on IBM's support of its PC operatingsystem, buttress his arguments.

Tactical Help
Vivek Ranadivé tells how Wal-Mart studied Floridians'shopping patterns after Hurricane Charlie and stocked its SunshineState stores accordingly when Frances made landfall just threeweeks later. That's what he calls "predictivebusiness." In The Power to Predict (McGraw-Hill, $29.95),the bestselling business author shows you how to boost yourpredictive power by appropriately structuring your business,deploying technology and analyzing data flows.

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