Growth. It's your goal. It's everybody's goal. It's good for you, for your business, for your employees, for the economy.

So, uh, how do you get there?

Participating in a survey, 854 U.S. small businesses--all business-to-consumer companies--answered these questions for Massachusetts-based online marketing firm Constant Contact.

The survey also asked these companies what they see as the keys and roadblocks to growth. As for what they thought might help achieve growth, 82 percent answered "loyal customers." Other popular options included:

  • Marketing tools (66 percent)
  • A stronger economy (50 percent)
  • Skilled employees (47 percent)

The results for what's standing in the way of growth were a bit more divided. They were:

  • Finding new customers (30 percent)
  • Lack of time (23 percent)
  • The overall economy (16 percent)
  • Funding (10 percent)

As it happens, Inc. has its own survey of companies that have already achieved sustained growth--that is, growth for five consecutive years. This survey is the basis of the Build 100, the premiere list of America's midmarket sustained-growth firms to publish in March.

The growth companies were asked to rank 14 areas as either a "major challenge," a "minor challenge," or "not really an issue" in their quests toward growth.

The big winner: training future supervisors and managers, with 73.4 percent of the growth companies surveyed recognizing it as either a major or minor challenge.

Other common answers included:

  • Attracting new customers (65.3 percent)
  • Using data to inform decisions (60.5 percent)
  • Attracting top talent (also 60.5 percent)

Only 31.3 percent of companies said accessing growth capital had been a challenge, making it the least common problem.