In the past 18 months, I have spoken with scores of entrepreneurs whose businesses are growing, despite the recession. Want to know what they have in common?

Here are five lessons successful entrepreneurs know about thriving in tough times:

1. Sell a thing. For the most part, the companies that are flourishing right now make a product. It’s basic supply-and-demand economics: If you make a thing that people want or need, they will buy it. Much of the U.S. economy is made up of businesses that sell services, which helps to explain why our economy is in the dumper.

2. Sell globally. The poster-child for growth businesses is one that reaches global markets. E-commerce makes it possible, even for a small organization.

3. Lead with innovation and quality. The two characteristics of successful products that can’t be easily replicated by cost-cutter nations, innovation and quality set the winners apart from competitors.

4. Reinvest. The companies that are growing have continued to invest in their people, equipment, R&D and best practices, even during the economic downturn.

5. Be nice. It actually matters whether you take care of your employees; appreciate customers and partners; and respect colleagues and competitors. People want to work for, buy from and invest in an enterprise with class.

Sometimes the simplest lessons are the most difficult to learn. The entrepreneurs who are living these five lessons are on the leading edge of our economic recovery.

Contact us to discuss how we can help tell your company's growth story.