Kendall Fontenot caught the entrepreneurial bug at a young age, selling everything from pencils and candy to gum and sports jerseys during his school years. Fontenot, 25, has parlayed that experience into a burgeoning auto dealership business that is currently expanding. His business model of a "buy here, pay here" auto dealership that sells cars below $10,000 is now set to expand from his original location in Baton Rouge, La., to another location in Las Vegas in the coming year. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with Fontenot to learn his secrets of success and to get his advice on how others can follow their entrepreneurial aspirations.
BusinessNewsDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Kendall Fontenot: An attorney.
BND: What did your parents do for a living?
K.F.: My mother was a social worker and my father was a manager of a fast food restaurant.
BND: What's the best part of owning your own business?
K.F.: Being able to work as many hours as I want, because since I was a child I've always loved working.
BND: What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
K.F.: Trying to walk before crawling. Everything you do in life is a process and before you start walking, you have to crawl and build a foundation.
BND: What was your main motivation in starting this business?
K.F.: I loved driving different vehicles. Since I knew I could buy a car, drive it, sell it and make a profit, I knew I had to be in the car business.
BND: What previous experiences helped you in that journey?
K.F.: Life in general, because I was taught that when one door closes, two doors open. At 17, I started a car audio business and was selling car audio, rims and tires, and other car accessories. Then a year later, I got licensed and started selling cars out of the newspaper from my mother’s home. My car audio business really helped me move into the used car business, especially in dealing with customers.
BND: What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
K.F.: When Hurricane Ike hit Baton Rouge, the bottom fell out of the used car business. I encountered a lot of debt, because no one was purchasing vehicles and my inventory was not selling. So in order to get my business back up and running smoothly, I acquired a finance license and reconstructed my company into a "buy here, pay here" used car dealership. I started financing cars out of my own pocket to get them sold and to generate a positive cash flow.
BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
K.F.: If you haven't failed, you haven't tried! Do not get discouraged and believe in your idea, because if you don't, no one else will!