Goodbye from our business advisor, Roger Keech

Opening our new blog is a face familiar to many of you, our business advisor, Roger Keech, who is sadly bidding a fond farewell as he looks forward to retirement at the end of March. Here, he looks back on his time working with Maidstone Borough Council, his highlights, and gives some last words of advice.

A business I was working with recently referred to me as their ‘business dad.’ I think this sums up the professional but friendly environment we’ve built up among the Maidstone business community over the past few years pretty well.  Relationship-building, collaboration and cooperation has been key to the success of the businesses we’ve helped and I’m really proud to have played a part in this.

I’ve been based at the Business Terrace right from when it started in September 2015. At the time, I was hotdesking while working for the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. So, when the opportunity arose to join Let’s Do Business Group (LDBG) in December 2017, becoming part of the MBC team was merely a case of swapping desks!

Over the years, I’ve watched the Business Terrace expand and with it, the many tenants who have moved from hot desks to ever-bigger shared offices and then onto pastures new. It’s indicative of how the Maidstone business community as a whole has flourished. This is thanks not only to the council’s investment but also the strong bond we’ve developed between MBC and LDBG and our fantastic partners such as Gullands Solicitors, Azets Accountants, Barclays Bank, 1Stop Insurance, Supersonic Playground for web design and Adplan Creative for signage & printing.

Some of my highlights have been the variety of businesses I’ve worked with across the borough – everything from cleaning firms, nail technicians, digital agencies, recruitment businesses, tech developers – even a business who wanted to make electricity from air! Then there’s the success stories: Syncbox, who secured investment from Dragon, Deborah Meaden; Ben Towers, who was an entrepreneur at age 11 and has now developed a mental health app for the workplace; and Stuart and Lucy Hall from Avviso Media who founded Digital Women, to name just a few.

But no matter the sector, there are three pieces of advice which are relevant to any business, particularly during tough times, that I’ll leave you with now:

1. Stay visible
Even when times are tough, it’s important to keep up your marketing and advertising activity – let people know you’re still around, don’t be forgotten!

2. Network!
I’ve always seen my role as being able to navigate people in the right direction for help. Networking is so important for helping me do this. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you’ll come across. Above all, enjoy it – business should be fun!

3. Build relationships
Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell, the first time you meet someone new. Show an interest in them and find out ways you can help each other that don’t involve a financial transaction – at least, not immediately. If you focus on making connections first, the clients will follow.  

It's been a difficult year but I know that the fantastic support available among this tightknit community will help it continue to thrive.  Rest assured that even though I’m leaving, you will still have ongoing access to all the help and advice you need. A new business advisor is being recruited and until then, my LDBG colleague, Lisa Young, will be on hand to bridge the gap between my departure and their arrival.

And now, I’m looking forward to spending even more time with my lovely wife, lots of walking, enjoying the beautiful coast, playing more guitar, keyboards and maybe some golf, as well as something I’m sure we could all do with – holidays!

Thank you, goodbye and I wish you all the best of luck.