Everyone meet Iris, Iris meet everyone. Welcome to the first edition of my new blog series ‘Inspiring Insight’ – today I am chatting with Iris Richter from Business Kitchen. Iris has had a very successful career sitting on different management teams for over 10 years, including roles at Apple IMC, Croxley and the international leading medical company, Ossur. Today she runs 4 successful businesses including Business Kitchen. It is through this highly regarded business coaching portal that I met Iris and to this day continue to benefit from her experience and support in business, marketing, planning and even the psychology of decision making and personality profiling.
Having Iris as my first interviewee is my tribute to her and the company she has and continues to help me build.
Iris, tell us a little about yourself, your background aside from what I’ve touched on above and what drives you to help others succeed?
The thing you didn’t mention is that my interest in business started very early. As a child most plays would lead to a business creation and I can list a number of “businesses” I ran as a kid. I was 10 when I had my first “business” that exchanged money. I used to buy watches and clothing at the markets in Thailand and sell them back home. I still have my bookkeeping books from that particular business. My curiosity for business has never left me. It wasn’t thus a big surprise to anyone that I studied business ( I have an executive MBA degree) and built a career there. What drives me to help others succeed is that I believe that a society is best served by medium sized businesses. Once companies grow to become larger corporates, a lot of the employees have no customer or product contact and lack the direct connection to the purpose of the business or the purpose changes to be mainly a financial one. That is when the nature of decision making changes. With medium sized companies, the employees all still know each other and understand the need that is being met out in the society. As a consumer I try to spend my money with local and smaller companies where possible and as a professional I decided to support medium sized companies in being successful.
How and who does Business Kitchen assist?
I have a great variety of clients, mostly medium sized though. Often they are companies where the owner has realised that (s)he can’t do it all by him/herself anymore but they are not big enough to hire all the different professionals, e.g. finance, marketing, HR, etc. That seems to be a very useful time to bring in an experienced business professional like myself. I use a business coach myself, keeping me focused on my goals.
What do you like best about your job?
I must admit that I am quite result driven, so watching a business transformation gives me “the kick”. I also enjoy meeting all the different people I wouldn’t have met elsewhere.
With your vast experience across your numerous roles, what do you believe to be one of the secrets to your professional success?
Good question, it is hard to point out one thing. A big one is that I have always loved doing what I do and I am hungry for success. Another one is that change has never frightened me. I have often observed highly skilled professionals lose their energy only because there was uncertainty around the corner, e.g. in a merger. Change and new challenges have always excited me and I am comfortable taking calculated risks. I also take my values of positivity, professionalism and honesty very seriously.
If you could give businesses, brands and professional individuals one piece of advice for the future, what would it be?
My first one would be to make sure you are doing something you enjoy. Life is too short to spend a vast amount of time doing something you don’t like. Your likelihood of success is also much higher that way. Then I would recommend having a strong plan. I am personally not a great fan of long worded planning documents. A very good strategy can often be written out on one page or even in one diagram – it´s simplicity makes the implementation more efficient. My third recommendation would be not to underestimate the power of good communication skills. Once you strengthen those, your network can be very useful in helping you achieve your goals. I use personality profiling with my clients and see great results.
What is the biggest business fail you see time and time again?
I think lack of strategy and lack of customer insight. Some people tend to focus on what they want to do, but forget to ask themselves who their target customers are and what they want. Sounds obvious, but gets forgotten a lot of the time. Sadly a lack of information can also reduce the quality of decision making. Looking at the right information (not only financial ones) often clarifies the situation and empowers managers.
How can people contact you?
I always love hearing from new people. Check out my website (www.businesskitchen.co.nz), where you can watch a few videos of me, as well as finding my email address and phone number.