Ed Smith's bathroom in Collegeville is awesome with six foot by seven foot walk-in all-granite shower and the water coming out of the ceiling.

"My house has a lot of tile -- the kitchen, the foyer -- all tile," said Smith, 32.

The tech entrepreneurs capture the headlines, but statistics show that the majority of entrepreneurs are in the building trades. Many operate as independent contractors, working for each other.

Smith followed a typical route. He studied masonry at North Montgomery County Technical Career Center near Lansdale. After he graduated, he landed a job where he served his internship.
"I worked for them a couple of years and then I started my own business," said Smith, 32, of Collegeville.

"I just wanted more. More money and I didn't want to be held back by a 9 to 5 job." Plus, it was a family business, with no room for him to advance.

But, he said, it would have been impossible to start his own business without working as an employee first.  "Where I worked, they taught me everything. There is no way, you could start a business without working. You have to go through it all to learn this trade. The guy who taught me has been doing this for 30 plus years," he said.

Like many in the building trade, he had taken on more and more side jobs, working nights and weekends for private clients. When they hit a critical mass in 2002, it was time to go out on his own. "I knew I could turn it into something else," he said.

Before he quit his job, he bought a truck, opened accounts with his suppliers and got a bank loan for his tools. "The hardest thing is getting paid. You are always chasing money around. Other than that, I enjoy it," especially the satisfaction that comes with seeing his beautiful tile work when the project is done.