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LEADING QUESTIONS: CPA Sponsel takes calculated risk

October 13, 2010
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Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which  IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Tom Sponsel, 57, launched Sponsel CPA Group in September 2009 after leaving the accounting firm at which he had spent a majority of his career. He joined the firm that would become Greenwalt Sponsel & Co. Inc. in 1980, and expected to succeed managing partner Larry Greenwalt as the firm's leader in January 2011. But Sponsel was unhappy with the direction of the company, and he decided to leave after it became apparent the firm no longer intended to install him in Greenwalt's position.

It was a calculated risk for Sponsel, who plowed $250,000 of his own money into the start-up and arranged for $750,000 in financing for the firm from M&I Bank. Today, Sponsel CPA Group has 21 employees—including managing partner Sponsel and three other partners formerly with Greenwalt Sponsel & Co. Inc.—and more than 100 clients.

In the video below, Sponsel recounts the steps taken to create his firm and get it off the ground. The experience was valuable for Sponsel and his employees, who gained insight into the business issues on which they regularly counsel their clients. Sponsel also discusses the inspiration he finds in his family's history, marked with entrepreneurs.

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