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Seven Lessons From Inc. 500 Companies

Inc. Magazine's annual list of the 500 fastest growing U.S. privately-held companies just hit the newsstands, accompanied by an expanded list of an additional 4,500 on Inc.com (full disclosure: I'm a contributing editor at Inc.).  Since it measures revenue growth over a four-year period (2006-2009 for the 2010 list), the list is typically a striking reflection of socioeconomic and industry trends.

For instance, in 2007, construction, manufacturing, and human resources firms were rocking the list, and were then eclipsed by IT services in 2008 and 2009. This year, you'll notice a huge increase in government services firms, as well as food and beverage companies that put a healthy spin on their products. For more general information on the list, check out Jim Melloan's “Finding Growth in a Recession” on Inc.com.

Personally, I love the list for the wisdom it imparts through the dramatic tales of the companies on it. So in the spirit of Upstarts and Alpha Dogs, which tires mightily to bring you valuable advice from the coolest and smartest entrepreneurial companies, I thought I'd share some of my favorite lessons from this year's Inc. 500 companies:

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