Twice laid off from tech-sector sales positions, Mehdi Vatani switched gears. He parlayed his woodworking hobby into a job as a laborer carpenter with a framing and foundations company. When he gained enough experience, his knowledge of sales and financials helped him start Valley Home Builders. “I wasn’t afraid to take on big projects,” he says. “I knew I could sell the work and had the confidence in my ability to build it after we sold it.”

• Vatani and his project managers do “post-mortems” of each job to identify extra costs and lost profit to keep slippage low. “If you sell $3 million in revenue, every 1% of slippage costs you $30,000,” he explains.

• Using integrated software from Sage, Vatani tracks profit, cash flow, and other details.

• Valley Home Builders’ policy is that subcontractors are only paid after all fees have been collected from the client.