Over the past decade, 39,921 businesses have appeared on the Inc. 5000, Inc.'s ranking
of America's fastest-growing private companies. On the list's 10th anniversary, we asked the founders of 25 (of the 142) remarkable companies that have earned a spot on the Inc. 500/5000 list 10 times or more to reveal how they've sustained and managed hypergrowth. What follows is a sampling of their sage advice. A hint: perpetual learning, discipline--and a giant dose of humility.

On Running the Company

Pinnacle Group

"Don't waste your time bringing in multiple customers through the front door if you're going
to lose them through the back door. Grow intelligently. Make sure you know everything about that customer, so you can use it as a case study. Then you're ready to absorb the next one and the next one."

Nina Vaca Founder, CEO, and chairperson
No. 542 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

LaSalle Network

"There are only two ways to keep the revenue growth going. Either the founder or the CEO is a salesperson, or the person who is in charge of revenue needs to be extremely tight with the founder and glued to him or her at the hip."

Tom Gimbel Founder and CEO
No. 4,449 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Quantum Health

"You need to set some boundaries around growth. We didn't want any one client to be more than 20 percent of our business."

Kara Trott Founder and CEO
No. 4,445 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

YapStone

"If you're going to embark on a geographic expansion, do it with a large customer. Otherwise, you're just going somewhere flatfooted."

Tom Villante Co-founder, CEO, and chairperson
No. 2,541 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Pacific Dental Services

"Structure trumps strategy. Work super hard on the structure of whatever business you're in so you can scale that business. Your strategy will change over time, because the market is changing so fast. But if you get your structure right--your capital structure, your org structure, your processes structure, your IT structure--that will help you survive the changes in strategy that you will have to make."

Stephen Thorne Founder and CEO
No. 4,072 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

 

On Leading the People

Billtrust

"The people you hire for the executive team when you're 40 people are not the people
you need when you're 400 people."

Flint Lane Founder and CEO
No. 4,099 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Quantum Health

"I never take on any particular role just to have a job. I do it to learn, and to understand what's needed. I am always thinking, what's the easiest thing for me to cede to someone else?"

Kara Trott Founder and CEO
No. 4,445 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Big Ass Solutions

"It helped that we didn't have any money. It keeps you lean and mean, and you pay a lot of attention."

"When we see somebody we like, I say, 'Holy cow. I don't care if we have a job for them or not.' We hire them."

Carey Smith Founder and CEO
No. 3,096 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Pinnacle Group

"Focus on growing other people, not just yourself. Are you allowing the other people in your company to be entrepreneurs?"

Nina Vaca Founder, CEO, and chairperson
No. 542 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

LaSalle Network

"When we have a bad culture fit, no matter how good the person is, we fire that person. I fired my top sales guy. His ego grew too large and he abused relationships, and we fired him."

Tom Gimbel Founder and CEO
No. 4,449 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

V-Soft Consulting Group

"I believe in continuous improvement for myself, not just for the company. I seek help from outside advisers. I'm part of a CEO roundtable."

Purna Veer Co-founder and president
No. 2,929 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

 

On Managing the Money

Billtrust

"Be careful what venture capitalists you partner with. It's like a marriage, and if you don't respect them and don't think they can add value, you shouldn't get married."

Flint Lane Founder and CEO
No. 4,099 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Loffler Companies

"What you're doing now is going to change. The things that are most profitable for you now aren't going to be your most profitable things in five or 10 years. So you always need to be investing out in front."

Jim Loffler Founder and CEO
No. 4,576 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Quantum Health

"You have to figure out your cash-flow rhythm. How soon after you invest in new business do you recover from your sales acquisition cost and your ramp-up cost? Whatever you think that number is, you should double it."

Kara Trott Founder and CEO
No. 4,445 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Torch Technologies

"Find the best people you can and start delegating. Otherwise, you're going to die."

Bill Roark Co-founder and CEO
No. 3,478 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Xifin

"Pick your VC or private equity firms very carefully. Make sure they match philosophically and culturally what you're trying to accomplish. We were experts in our marketplace,
so we didn't need help and advice on product. We needed capital support more than anything else."

Lâle White Founder and CEO
No. 3,817 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical

"I don't like debt. Being debt-free is very comfortable. If it all went to crap one day, I don't have a whole lot of payments I have to make."

Jimmy Hiller Founder and CEO
No. 4,314 2017 Inc. 5000 rank

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF INC. MAGAZINE