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Big Money

Whether you want to spend the money, improve the world with it or just roll around in it, it's time you learn to build your billion-dollar business.

This story appears in the May 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you write that first memo on letterhead featuring the nameof the brainchild you've created to change commerce as we knowit, you're ecstatic. Still, you cross your fingers and hope youcan pay rent as you make Year Two sales projections of $4.5million. Ever-hungry for inspiration and guidance, you spend yourdowntime in the business section of the local bookstore but noticethat the books about making your first million have been replacedby tales of the latest crop of billion-dollar ventures. Deepcontemplation begins: "Do companies even make their firstmillion anymore, or do they just start at five?" You startthinking about $1 billion. Lining up the 10 digits in your head,you can't help wondering whether you'll ever get there andhow famous companies like Ernst & Young, Intel and Levi Strauss& Co. managed to do it and stay there.

Don't be too painfully jealous about the success ofmegabrands like Levi's, a company that's been around since1853 and didn't hit its first billion until 1975. But do oohand aah over much younger companies, like Walnut, California'sViewSonic Corp., founded as Keypoint Technology Corp. by James Chuin 1987. At that time, the company was a computer peripheralsdistributor specializing in keyboards and monitors and was enjoyingfirst-year sales of $4 million. That's enough to put a grin onyour face, but nothing like watching that number soar to about $1.4billion in 2000. Evolving into a visual technology company in 1990,ViewSonic is now poised for another upswing in sales, despite thefact that the computer industry as a whole has seen betterdays.

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