ELC Entrepreneur Highlight: D. Keith Pigues
D. Keith Pigues is the Founder and CEO of Luminas Strategy, an innovative company that supports organizational leaders to develop winning customer and stakeholder value propositions.
Q: Why did you make the leap into entrepreneurship?
A: Entrepreneurship was a calling from my youth which was discovered while watching my father’s success as an entrepreneur. After over 25 years in large corporations and c-suite leadership positions, my passion for helping organizations improve strategy development to accelerate and sustain organic growth pulled into entrepreneurship to help other companies.
Q: How did you get the idea or concept for your business?
A: Throughout my corporate career I gained experience leading sales, marketing and strategy in a variety of industries. Experiences in several roles leading successful growth transformations resulted in the development of a unique approach to help organizations make more confident critical growth decisions. After gaining this experience, writing and speaking on the topic, and co-authoring a book (Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B, Wiley & Sons), several organizations requested assistance. You might say, I was pulled into entrepreneurship.
Q: What was your biggest mistake/failure and how did you navigate through it?
A: My biggest mistake was not transitioning into entrepreneurship earlier in my career. This is something I deeply regret. The fulfillment received from entrepreneurship – launching and growing a business that delivers real value to customers and enables me to work with an amazing group of people – is something I wish could have been experienced earlier.
Q: To what or whom do you attribute your success?
A: My success is attributed to several things: The support of my wife and children; the invaluable experience gained during the time in corporate roles; relationships with a wide range of supporters; an incredible competent team; and an offering that delivers real meaningful and differentiated value to customers versus other market offerings.
Q: What has entrepreneurship taught you?
A: Entrepreneurship has taught me a lot. However; one of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is that cash flow matters! In business school and corporate settings, we reviewed and analyzed financials regularly. With the exception of a highly leveraged private equity portfolio company where I served as the Chief Marketing Officer during the recession in the late 1990s, the cash flow statement was not the most important financial statement. Entrepreneurship has taught me that cash flow is everything, particularly in the early days. It determines the ability or the runway to continue on the journey on your own terms.
Q: Any tips for new business owners or struggling business owners?
A: Do something that you are passionate about, where you have expertise, with a truly differentiated value proposition and a feasible exit strategy. Surround yourself with talented people who work well in an entrepreneurial environment and are truly committed to serving customers. Entrepreneurship is hard work, maybe the hardest work anyone will ever do, so you better really enjoy it and be fulfilled by it.
The ELC Entrepreneur series highlights ELC Members who have been successful in starting businesses. Their stories will provide insights on what went into their decision and how they navigated some of their toughest obstacles. They will also provide tips for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make the leap.