David Thomson wanted to know the secrets of companies able to break the billion-dollar barrier (don’t we all?), so he spent three years analyzing the United States’ highest-growth companies for his new book, Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth (Wiley, $28). Here’s what you need to put his findings to work.

The right strategy: Aim to reshape the world (think eBay), reshape a niche (Starbucks), or stomp everyone else in your category on price or service (think Home Depot).

The right industry: Hint: Specialty retail, insurance, and health care were all past winners.

The right customers: You are who you sell to, so foster relationships with luminaries.

The right partners: If you’re big, pick a smaller, innovative company to keep you fresh. If you’re little, pick a big guy to boost your credibility.

The right expenses: Control your costs to achieve at least 20 percent gross earnings from the get-go.

The right chiefs: One to focus on external relationships, and one for internal ops.

The right directors: Choose customers, partners, and experts instead of investors so that your board is an extension of the management team.