When Bill Keilty's field employees threaten to go into business for themselves, the Boise, Idaho, remodeler sits them down for a reality check. “For the most part, they're just going for the money,” the owner of Keilty Construction says. By laying bare the costs of ownership, he convinces about half the would-be entrepreneurs to stick with the job they have.

First, he sets them straight about liability and workers' compensation insurance. “They think they won't need workers' comp if they don't have employees,” Keilty says, when the truth is that Idaho requires every contractor to have it and audits aggressively to catch those who do not.

Then Keilty shatters illusions about the labor pool. “They think they're going to hire a friend from the bar and make money hand over fist,” Keilty says.

“I also tell them about the difficult clients they're usually sheltered from,” he adds.

Above all, Keilty tries to squelch thoughts of leaving before they take shape. Besides providing good benefits, he is careful not to paint too rosy a picture of business ownership, openly discussing some of his challenges, general business failure rates, and the years he spent building his company. “They see me sitting in my office, driving around in an air-conditioned truck,” Keilty says. “They think I was just born here.”