Katherine Roberts is the co-founder of This Little Pig Went to Market, a meal-kit delivery service with a farm-to-table ethos that supports local farmers. By creating gourmet food boxes and dietitian-approved recipes, delivered to customers’ doors – This Little Pig makes life just that little bit easier. Katherine is a two-time Telstra Young Business Woman Finalist in both 2016 and 2017 and is part of the Smart 30 under 30 alumni (2017).
You can listen to Katherine’s Tilly Money podcast interview here.
- Did you have a business mentor or someone that inspired your career path journey?
When I first started, I asked for a lot of guidance from business mentors. I tried to find mentors that had strengths in areas that I was challenged by or had no experience in.
I talked to a CFO who I really admired for his work in turning struggling companies into profitable ones. I talked to a business owner who I admired for her ability to have tough conversations and not let feelings get in the way of making strong business decisions.
It’s that idea from Jim Rohn that if someone is amazing in an area that you could work on, take them out for a cup of coffee and pick their brain. His premise was even if someone has completely failed at something you should sit down with them and say, “hey what did you do so badly so that I don’t do that.” That one feels a bit harsh to me though.
I’ve always tried to keep a business coach near for the whole journey as there is something about that accountability and external sounding board that can really drive the success of your business.
In terms of admiration, I’ve always admired Maggie Beer, the Barossa food queen. I love that she has created so many products (special mention: her burnt fig ice cream) but her love of quality, seasonal and delicious food comes across in everything she creates. She manages to imbue her passion in everything that is created, something that I think is quite remarkable, especially considering the size of her company and range of products. I also love the saying she has “it took me 20 years to become an overnight success.” I was also very touched that she made time during the interval of a show, she was putting on, to meet my sister Jessica and I. To shake our hands, encourage us and answer some of our questions when we were in start-up phase. I always remember that as a lesson in generosity to others who are behind you in the business journey and what a big deal it can be for someone.
- What are some of the lessons in leadership that you’d encourage other young, aspiring businesswomen to remember and implement?
Take an interest in your employees/suppliers/people in general, remember their names, their families, and their interests. It doesn’t take much effort on your part to make people feel good and it will also give you a lot more empathy and understanding of how they’re wired and why they react in certain ways. It can also help you to inspire them to give their best self to their job if they feel valued and like you actually care about them as an individual.
Set expectations early so people know what is expected of them and the standards. Rather than having these unknown and unmet needs in your brain and then feeling frustrated that your staff haven’t achieved them or you’re having to pick up the slack. Even though I now have managers sitting between myself and the majority of the staff, I still sit down with every new starter and run them through the history of the business, our values and expectations of them.
Become an investigator when things go wrong or people don’t achieve the results you want. Rather than jumping to a conclusion on why they underperformed, try and find out what’s going on in their world that impacted their work. Nine times out of ten, it’s got nothing to do with work or it’s something easy to fix if you catch it early and approach it with an inquiring mind.
From very early on I realised that if you can inspire and grow someone along their work journey, even if they don’t stay working for you in the long term, you will always have impacted their life for the better and it will create a flow on effect to others. That’s just a nice thing to feel a part of I think.
- What is your approach to money and personal finance, and do you have any money rituals or habits?
Being good with money hasn’t always come naturally to me, so I have strategies to assist with that. I’ve created empowerment by self-educating (again lots of books and articles) and not being afraid to ask questions of people who are good with money.
Strategies I use regularly:
- Don’t put yourself in the way of temptation: I make a shopping list beforehand and I only go to a shop if I need something, no window shopping for this lady and I’m not signed up to any newsletters/advertising that might tempt me when I’m having a rough week.
- Always make paying money back a priority.
- Buy less so that you can spend the money on good quality things that you care about: we only have one car, I don’t spend a lot on clothes or home goods, but I have an expensive couch that I adore and gives me joy every single time I sit in it.
- Having direct debits for savings in out of sight bank accounts/investment funds with high interest.
- I’ve realised I’m not very proactive with money, it doesn’t give me joy to whip out the finance ledgers so anything low effort that I can do to have money ticking into a savings account is a win for me.
- What is your proudest career achievement?
For me it wasn’t any huge moment it was just this little slice of time at a staff morning tea a few months ago. The whole team was sitting out in the sun, talking and laughing their heads off and I just looked around and was so blown away and encouraged to realise that my sister and I and our family’s hard work of 8 years had paid off and we had actually created a real business and a culture that had all these wonderful people connecting and enjoying themselves. It was a realisation that we had created something unique and glorious, and it was a feeling of “we’ve finally made it.”
- What money/business/life advice would you give to your 21-year-old self (if she’d listen)?
Don’t be afraid of trying new things as you never know where they’ll take you. Travel and do as many wild adventurous things as you can when you’re young while your life is uncomplicated so take advantage of that. Don’t take it too seriously too early and don’t be worried if you don’t know what to do with your life because life has a way of showing you where to go.
When making decisions, choose the harder, scarier option because you can always come back and do the easier option if the hard one doesn’t work out. If you never try it, you’ll always wonder what could have been, so just leap wholeheartedly, two feet in and if you fail, well at least you’ve learnt one thing that doesn’t work for you.