growth We all have great ideas. The challenge is turning these great ideas into large successful business that can become catalysts for industry innovation.  One of the best way to do this, is to learn from others who have made this type of success happen.  That was the goal of the Momentum Summit , organized by Scott Kirsner from the Boston Globe.

Executives from VistaPrint, ConstantConact, ZipCar, Akamai, TripAdvisor, and HubSpot all discussed how they went from a small start-up to a hugely successful business.  I had the great pleasure of attending the event to learn from these experts.  Some of the best quotes I noted are below.  If you are an entrepreneur or part of a start-up, this is great advice to consider when planning to take your business to the next level.

Business Growth Lessons For Small Business

Gail Goodman, CEO, ConstantContact

  •   I hear "fail forward fast" a lot these days from startup executives.  That strategy can be dangerous.  You could just collect a number of false negatives.  How do you know if it truly was the wrong strategy or if you just did not try hard or long enough?
  • Run lots of tests and always have a control group.  For example, when we first started selling, we hired 3 sales people.  If we only hired 1 sales rep, how would we know whether the issue was the concept of selling or the sales person?

Ben Fischman, CEO Retail Convergence ( www.ruelala.com )

  •   Our success came down to 3 key elements;  attract talent, attract loyal customers, scale
  • The most difficult challenge in a start-up is balancing speed with a methodical approach
  • It is critical to have chemistry with your lead investor, not the lead firm but definitely the lead partner

Tom Leighton, co-founder Akamai

  • Never deal with a junior partner at a VC firm.  Akamai made that mistake in their first round and the senior partner taught the junior partner a lesson by killing the deal at the last minute.
  • Don't focus so much on the advice from potential investors. They will always be skeptical.  Focus more on what your customers think.  If you are doing the right thing for customers, in the long term, you will be successful.

Trynka Shineman, CMO VistaPrint

  • VistaPrint started doing Freemium before it was a term.  The free business cards are our hook.  We have 5 billion impressions on free biz cards across the globe.  That is an extremely valuable and profitable marketing channel for us.

Stephen Kaufer, CEO TripAdvisor

  • Test early and often.  When we consider a new feature, we promote it before we build it by putting a link on the website. It takes an hour.  Yes, the link does not lead anywhere.  Yes, it may upset some people.  However, if 10K people click on it, I will be the happiest man knowing there is demand.  Now let’s build the feature.

Scott Griffith, CEO Zipcar

  • Lead through vision and core values.  Every Zipcar employee carries a card in their pocket reminding them of these items.
  • As an early CEO, you need to hire your next tier of leaders earlier than you think.  Quickly your decision making process goes from man to man to zone.

What are other pieces of advice you have learned successful business leaders in your industry?

Photo Credit: iChaz

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Originally published Jul 7, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016