Late-blooming entrepreneurs don’t need a business degree, but they do need to know their limits.
Those looking to start a business often don’t realize what they do and don’t know about the finer points of starting and maintaining a profitable venture. Even if they are extremely skilled in their field, a lack of experience balancing a budget, hiring and firing employees, and running an office still can pose a problem for new owners.

Clint Spoor, owner of Complete Construction Service LLC, knows this firsthand. Spoor had decades of experience managing and building projects, but he found he had much to learn when he started the Shawnee-based general contractor in 2011, after he lost his job in the recession. CCS has doubled annual revenue every year. Spoor expects revenue of $10 million to $12 million for 2014.

Spoor said other entrepreneurs looking to start working for themselves need to be cautious about how they spend their money, hire carefully and know their strengths and weaknesses.
Spoor said the most important thing to him is staying out of debt and protecting the money he’s already made. He started off investing only his money in the company, renting a small office, buying a minimal amount of equipment and hiring only as needed. He said he wanted to stay debt-free because during the recession, he saw construction companies borrow heavily and ultimately lose control of their companies to creditors.
Along with minimizing debt, Spoor said sinking profits into growth, minimizing expenses and avoiding frivolous purchases are essential. Customers aren’t going to make a deal because he’s sitting behind a pricey desk or has employees driving brand-new trucks. Customers make deals because of the product’s quality, he said.
Spoor said he had to let go of wanting to be responsible for everything and everyone. Through Vistage International peer-to-peer coaching, he said he learned he was holding his employees’ hands too much and needed to step back and let them do their jobs. He needed to focus on his job. That lets employees — and the company — grow.
As his company grew, he learned he needed to focus on what he does best: coach and trailblaze — and hire others who are strong where he is weak. That’s where his business turned the corner.
“You don’t need to be the best person at your company at everything,” he said. “You need to know how to hire people to do that.”
Spoor said he learned the importance of taking time to make the right hires. He called himself a trusting person who took people in on their word or because they looked good on paper — but he said he wished he had spent more time looking to see how a potential employee matched up with the company’s culture before making the hire.
He learned to look first for good values and a good work attitude and second for experience. He said entrepreneurs need to know to fire a bad employee rather than hold onto them and try to mold them.



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