Keith Roberts—or wkeithroberts.com if you’re Googling him—has followed an ultra-cool career path. His professional life started at the dawn of the computer era. In the business world, he’s quite possibly seen it all and consulted on bits of everything. This great journey has landed him in his current role of Entrepreneur Coach & Strategist. We get especially jazzed that he has decided to do the majority of his entrepreneurial coaching and strategizing here at WorkHub.
Let’s take it all the way back to his childhood. Keith actually dreamed of being a professional tennis player, and he was pretty stinkin’ good! The highlight of his career was playing Jimmy Connors in the National Junior Indoors Tournament. He got waxed (KEITH’S WORDS!)—but who wouldn’t have? Björn Borg? It was Jimmy Connors!! After the big match, Keith’s dad recommended that he start exploring “more realistic” career options, and he was off to Stephen F. Austin University to major in Accounting.
After college, Keith transitioned into his first job at Tyler Pipe where he ran the Profit Planning Department. This job was much more difficult in the 1970s without Excel and QuickBooks. Keith reported financial and manufacturing data by way of a punch-card system.
“We would spend a week preparing these punch cards so that we could print out these reports to pass along to management. Today, you could do this in Excel in about two hours. None of this excited me then—but I saw where technology was taking us and what computers could do, and I knew that was the field for me.”
The next thirteen years were spent in roles such as Corporate Accountant and CFO until Keith’s passion for technology took over and pushed him to start his own software company, Sequel Systems Consulting. Basically, Keith and his team would go consult with a business, listen to their woes and come up with creative technology/software solutions to solve for pain points.
“I loved the challenge of taking complex business problems and solving them with tools, systems and processes. To this day, I know that my greatest strength is seeing things that most people don’t see when it comes to creating positive change in the way a company runs.”
All these experiences with various businesses brought Keith to the realization that he really loved helping small businesses and other entrepreneurs. He finds the most joy in using his collective business experience to help struggling business owners see where they can improve processes and put the appropriate systems in place to correct their trajectory. Basically, when your business is giving you lemons—Keith would suggest that you add an eCommerce component to your website and sell that produce for a healthy profit. Then, use that cash to invest in additional strategic systems to help with other areas of your business that need streamlining to decrease frustration and increase profitability.
“I like to make a difference. I go in and find out what the pain points are within a business and come up with some simple, quick solutions where you can get immediate traction. One business I consulted with saved $450,000 by using a $12 app that I suggested after hearing about their specific struggles.”
So what advice does Keith have for people who are looking to start their own business? These are gold nuggets, people. Get a pen and paper ready!
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work that requires 100 times the effort that people think—this is the reason so many fail. Becoming an entrepreneur should not be an escape route for the frustrated employee who hates their boss or wants more freedom and money. It takes time and so much effort. If you are committed to success—invest in a mentor, a coach, read everything you can get your hands on, have a plan.
For anyone who is thinking about starting their own business or entering into entrepreneurship, I recommend that they read eMyth by Michael Gerber. It’s an older book but still applicable and timeless in its content. Take some great courses. Dale Carnegie Training changed my life and took me from being a clueless sales person to a Microsoft Global Partner (recognized for top software sales across the globe) for multiple years.
The biggest mistake I have made is thinking that ‘if I build it, they will come.’ They don’t. You have to decide who you want to work with, what problems they are trying to solve and do everything you can to offer the solutions they need.”
If you would like to continue this conversation with W. Keith Roberts, you can book some time with him through his website and meet him at WorkHub for a cup of coffee and a strategy session. If you’re still curious about what he has to offer, check out his blog or podcast.