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Episode 5 : Running a business in a rural community

 

Duration: 47:30

 

Rebecca: Hello and welcome to the Know Better, Be Better podcast. We are a podcast that is committed to learning and educating others about the lifestyle and commitment of running a small business. We started our own business Miann and Co in 2011 after our second child was born and we saw a gap in the market for natural fiber products. We are lifelong learners on an incredible journey, making a conscious effort to appreciate and enjoy every single moment of it. Join us in an unscripted conversation about our business journey, mindful thinking, ethics, business tips and tricks, travel, self-care and creativity. Gaining insight from our own experience and endeavors as well as reaching out to other amazing experts in the field, we would love to offer a deeper understanding into our business journey and the business and lifestyle realm. 

Hello and welcome back to another episode of Know Better, Be Better. I have another exciting and inspirational woman that I'm interviewing today. This one is actually a little close to my heart as I've been asked to speak at one of Katrina's events tonight. So I thought it would be great opportunity to sit down and have a chat and talk all things business. Katrina is part owner of Barham Avocados and they are doing some amazing things in a small community. I sat down with Katrina to chat all things business and running a business in a rural community. This chat is hugely inspirational and also gives some ideas for anyone that's inspired to run a business in a rural area. Buckle in. I can't wait to share this one with you. And without further ado, I'm going to turn over to our chat. 

Rebecca: Hi Katrina and welcome to know better be better. It’s so good to have you here today.

Katrina: Hi Bec. Thanks for having me. It's lovely to be here.

Rebecca: A pleasure. Well, let's start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up and what you study.

Katrina: My back story.

Rebecca: Yeah, your back story. 

Katrina: You never know how detailed to go with this, I suppose. But yeah, so I grew up... We are actually recording today at my house which is lovely, so on the farm. I grew up here on the farm and in the same town as you. 

Rebecca: Yeah.

Katrina: Barham, went to school in Barham and yeah, sort of... I actually went off to boarding school and then went off to uni in Melbourne and studied Ag science and then actually also did a masters in environmental management and sort of global studies, sort of like, it was a pretty broad sort of masters really. It was awesome though. 

Rebecca: I didn't know that.

Katrina: Yeah. So it’s called International Urban and Environmental Management. 

Rebecca: Amazing.

Katrina: Yeah. It was very broad, but it was really good. It was actually really interesting because while I was studying, that was by correspondence, we also lived in Bangkok for a year. Tim worked with an NGO and I did volunteering with an NGO. It was really interesting because I was sort of studying stuff and learning about NGOs and how they operated and then we were kind of living it as well, so seeing how it actually played out in reality. So that was really interesting because there is a lot around how the world bank operates and IMF operates. It was just fascinating actually, and the bureaucracy that NGOs have tied up with. So that was really fascinating. That was sort of... That was when I was a little bit older, like around 25. 

So yeah, Ag Science and then lived in England for a couple of years. Tim and I lived over there. We met back here in Barham because he came to work in Barham as a local vet and then we ended up traveling overseas together for a couple of years and then back here for a bit and then Bangkok and then back in Australia again. After we lived in Bangkok, we moved back to Young in New South Wales. Yeah, because as I said, he was a vet. We were going to buy into a vet practice there in Young. And then we had our first baby, Daisy and sort of had like a bit of an epiphany of, well, hang on a minute, we really want to be on a farm, but we are never going to be able to afford to buy a farm around here. 

Rebecca: Yeah, that's a hard one.

Katrina: Because Young was really expensive real estate. So then we sort of thought, well, we've got two farms in the family, so maybe we should be thinking about going back to one of them. I guess the avocado farm here at Barham really appealed to us because it was avocados and we sort of saw a lot of opportunities in the future of that because, there is a lot you can do to value add and it’s such an awesome product.

Rebecca: Absolutely. It's endless really, isn't it?

Katrina: Yeah, it really is. Yeah. We love the Barham community and so we sort of said to mum, because she was at that time looking to sort of sell the farm anyway and move somewhere else. So we said, how about we come back to the farm? She was like, "Oh no, don't be ridiculous. Why would you want to do that sort of thing?" We were like, "No, we really do". So yeah, that was a nine years ago. 

Rebecca: Wow. Has it been nine years?

Katrina: Yes. It's crazy. It has gone so quickly. Like, you know, so cliché.

Rebecca: It does, doesn't it? Yeah.

Katrina: It really does go quickly.

Katrina: Yeah. So then we moved back to the farm in 2011 or whatever or it was 2010, yeah. 

Rebecca: Tell us a little bit about the journey into your own business, I guess in your own farming and how you've tackled that as opposed to working for someone else as well. 

Katrina: It has been awesome actually. It was so challenging at the start, like to come back in and take over the farm and mum literally just basically... She actually ended up having an operation that first year. She had a brain tumor, not a cancerous one, but quite a bad tumor. So we were literally thrown in the deep end because she needed to go off and have the operation and she was out of action for ages. 

Rebecca: I didn't know. 

Katrina: Yeah. So we walked back into our sort of first harvest and everything. It was just like, here you go.

Rebecca: Full on.

Katrina: It was so full on and I just had our second baby and it was just... It was crazy that first couple of years. Anyone in business will tell you this last couple of years is mental. You are just learning so much. And we had never run a business. That was the other thing. You think going back to a farm, I don't know, it's such a different thing these days running a farm, it's such a business. You've got to run it like a business. So that was... Not only were we learning how to grow the avocados and how to keep them alive, it was all this business and payroll and accounting and finance and tax.

Rebecca: It's so much to learn, isn't it?

Katrina: So much. So that was... Plus we also decided to sort of start the brand of Barham Avocados. So we developed that brand and an online shop to sell the avocado. So that was like another layer as well. 

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: The first couple of years were crazy and I don't think we had any kind of like well-being practices in place or anything. We were really just flying by the seat of our pants. But it was still awesome though. And we loved it. Tim had always been working for someone else.

Rebecca: He hadn't had his own practice before that?

Katrina: Never had his own practice.

Rebecca: So those two years would have been massive learning. 

Katrina: Totally. Yeah, exactly. But also at the same time we loved it.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: It is awesome to own your own business. 

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: The flip side of the hard work of it is it's very empowering, but there is a whole lot of learning, how to manage your time because... And that's what Tim really struggled with at the start, was how to be efficient and to get stuff done and to manage your time so that you were being efficient. So that was a big learning curve as well, but yeah, awesome though as well. And just to have that freedom, because you can then duck off to the school assembly if you need to and you are not answerable to someone else. That’s the ying and the yang of that because it's all on you, but at the same time it's the freedom of that.

Rebecca: Absolutely. It's like the positive and negative, I think always coexist in anything that you do. It's how you tackle that positive and negative as well. And it is in everything, I think. So you can either focus on the negative or positive or see that they come together and that's life.

Katrina: Yeah, 100% and the learnings also in the negatives.

Rebecca: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

Katrina: I've learned to do that a lot more as I've grown. It's like you know, see everything as a learning, not...

Rebecca: That's right, a negative. 

Katrina: Exactly. So that was nine or ten years ago and we've had a lot of learnings in that time, I think, but it has been awesome. Really, I have loved having our own business. Overall it has been amazing. 

Rebecca: How do you find working alongside Tim as well? You are husband and wife as well, like we are. How do you find working together? Do you bring a different skillset or how do you divide the business? Do you do similar things or how do you work that as well? 

Katrina: Yeah, so that's another thing I think we've got a lot better at. In the early days it was literally just you know...

Rebecca: Survival?

Katrina: Yeah, survival. Absolutely. You just do whatever you've got to do and make it work. We are very fortunate. We have a great relationship and we are good at communicating. I think that's a big thing. You've got to be able to communicate well. I think I drive that a lot, but Tim is really receptive to that too. We are able to stop and have those conversations and just really...

Rebecca: Absolutely. Which is so important, I think.

Katrina: So important. And be clear, you know, Brene Brown, clear is kind. Don't bloody bottle things up and then you know...

Rebecca: Or beat around the bush in a roundabout way that miscommunication happens. 

Katrina: Yeah, just be clear.

Rebecca: That's right.

Katrina: So that has been good. And I think, yeah, we've learned a lot and we now do separate our roles quite a lot. I'm really good on the strategic big picture kind of... That's definitely my happy place. It's like long-term vision. Yeah, that big picture stuff. So that has been good. I'm sort of more in that role now and take and do sort of more of the finance side and the payroll, that kind of stuff. Like more of the business side, I guess and strategic side. And then Tim's really the hands on the ground day to day. We don't see each other that much. We don't cross paths because he is out all day on the farm and I'll be in, so it's pretty good now in that respect. But we also just make a conscious effort to check in and have those meetings. We go through stage, like sometimes we are really good and we will do them every month and we will be really strict and then it goes by the wayside, but just stopping and stepping back, really important. 

Rebecca: So important. Yeah.

Katrina: But you can easily forget to do it and get caught up in the day to day and you don't step back and say, well where are we going? And I'm really big on that. Like, hey, so where are we heading? Like what's the 10 year plan? Like what's... what are we working towards? And we want to go traveling and take a year off with the kids and go take a boat. We want to go on a boat for a year. 

Rebecca: This is a dream we've had as well. 

Katrina: Yeah. But it's actually really good for your business plan because it makes you, so already...

Rebecca: Systemizing.

Katrina: Yup. And we are putting things in place. We know we need a manager on board, someone who can run the show while we are not here. So it just makes you that much more, I guess kind of take those steps and make it easier to systemize it so that when you are not here. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. Systemizing I think changes your business as well. We weren't big on that, but yeah, it absolutely gives you a lot of freedom, makes everything run a lot smoother and being able to run your business from anywhere too, I think.

Katrina: Definitely. And even with a farm these days, there is so much more technology that you can do that. I mean it's still, I find it... It's hard to get Tim to systemize things sometimes, because it's, yeah, It's [inaudible 11:29].

Rebecca: I don't... I think... Yeah, I don't want to make a generalization, but yeah, systemizing is a different... It is really good on the technology side of things, but systemizing things [crosstalk11:41]

Katrina: Not so much. We will have skills.

Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. That's right. 

Katrina: But yeah, I think overall Tim and I work well together and it does have its challenges. You've got to... I think also we are pretty good at having our own time. I'll go away and do thing and he'll do his thing. I'll probably go away more than he does, actually. I think that helps. We have space from each other. We are not in each other's pockets at all and that really helps as well. And yeah, communication is the number one thing I think when you are running a business together and just respecting each other. It's a good thing to just have that baseline of respect and try to keep things… The other thing we really try to be conscious of is keep the work discussions.

Rebecca: Home and work. 

Katrina: But then you go out for dinner and you ended up talking about the business. I mean, it's inevitable, but...

Rebecca: Absolutely, kids are business.

Katrina: Kids are business, exactly. But just try to limit that so it has its place. Again, in the early days we used to just be like... It would be chaos because you would be trying to talk about something that needed to happen in the business and the kids are screaming outside.

Rebecca: Frustration, isn't it? It is systemizing things so you have that more balanced everywhere really, isn't i? It filters through to home life as well. 

Katrina: Definitely and try to separate the two. That's what I do now. I used to, the kids would get home from school and I would still be on the computer doing work. It just doesn't work. So now I know, switch off if you are away, if they are around. Like you just can't... Oh I can't. I'm sure some people can.

Rebecca: But you just end up getting frustrated and no one wins from it as well, isn't it? Like you are frustrated, they are frustrated and it's just not a happy place.

Katrina: Yeah. So if you can separate the two as much as possible. There is always going to be times when you just have to get something done and they are around and that's... But as much as possible, try to separate the two.

Rebecca: You've got four now as well. So you've got one still at home?

Katrina: Yup. Henry is two in a couple of weeks actually. He does daycare, but only two days. 

Rebecca: That's a lot to fit into two days, isn't it?

Katrina: Yes. It's pretty full on actually. 

Rebecca: Yeah, like trying to squeeze it into two days it is.

Katrina: It is, yeah. But to be honest, like I have stepped back a lot more over the… like, since having Henry too. I don't know, it took me four children to just go, “Actually, I'm just going to step back and enjoy this a bit more”. I really have. It has been awesome. But now I'm like, ready to go.

Rebecca: Ready to get back into the seat. Yeah. I know it is. You kind of need to recharge those batteries with those things sometimes too, don't you? And it ebbs and flows with family life sometimes that needs you a little bit more and sometimes a business needs you a little bit more.

Katrina: That's probably one of the benefits of having a husband and wife partnership, is that I haven't been able to step back and Tim has picked up a bit more. But then again, it's resetting the balance again because I found like I'm doing more of the domestic stuff and I'm doing more of this stuff. So I've had to say to Tim, okay, so you've got into this pattern now where I'm doing all this stuff. If I want to step back into it, we need to reset that a bit.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: But again, that's just about having a conversation and making him aware that this is not exactly how I want it to keep going. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. Oh my goodness, yes. You are speaking my love language. Yeah. I think it's a thing, particularly when you are in business together, it is dividing all of those tasks as well. You know, home life. You don't just come home when you've got four children at home and then work life as well. It's never ending. 

Katrina: Yeah. For me that's about saying to Tim as well. If someone's picking up the slack, of course the other person is going to go [crosstalk 14:56]

Rebecca: Absolutely, yeah.

Katrina: You've actually got to say, well, I need you to step up here.

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: And in a nice way. Not in a, “You are not doing anything to help me”. That never works. 

Rebecca: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 

Katrina: So that's good. 

Rebecca: Fantastic. Did you always know that you wanted to go into business or was this something that after you had kids or something that kind of changed or did something change or trigger? 

Katrina: Yeah, well, no. I had never really... I guess, I reckon I was floating sort of unconsciously for a long time. You know, it wasn't really... I don't know. I wasn't really... I never had this sort of super big ambition to be... Well, I always thought I was going to be a horse rider, actually, because I spent all my childhood riding horses. I never really consciously thought about what the future was career wise. I wasn't sort of career driven at all. And yeah, we just kind of fell into the business, I guess because it was coming back to a farm, which was a business, but... I think that's actually one of the things that is so awesome about a farm is that it is your own business. But yes, it never was like, well I want to start a business. But now I just love the entrepreneur world and I'm obsessed with it. I'm just desperate to...

Rebecca: There is so much learning, isn't there? 

Katrina: Yes.

Rebecca: It wasn't really a word, I guess around when we were even at school as well, you know, entrepreneurial thing. There was small business around because we grew up in a small community, so a lot of people had their own business. But yeah, I guess it wasn't glamorized like it is now. It wasn't a buzz word, so there wasn't a lot of talk about it or support groups or things like there are now too, all the resources, internet.

Katrina: Oh my goodness, and now it's like a rabbit hole for...

Rebecca: It is.

Katrina: And yeah, like I just I love the whole world of learning about business and I love that. So now I sort of kind of moving on to wanting to start another business. 

Rebecca: Yes, yes, absolutely. I think once you get into it as well, you realize that there is so many opportunities whereas I think when you are growing up or when we were growing up, it wasn't even really a path or encouraged through school. And I think it's still not. 

Katrina: Still not enough. Everything you read says that like the future is for creatives and it's all about... 

Rebecca: Absolutely, thinking outside the box. 

Katrina: Yes. But you know our education system, you and I have talked about this, is not geared up for that. 

Rebecca: No, not at all. 

Katrina: But I think, I guess at least we are leading by example for the kids. 

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: I suppose at this stage that's the best thing we can do. But yeah, the school system is definitely not teaching people how to be creative and be entrepreneurial as such. It's coming in a bit, but not enough. 

Rebecca: No. No.

Katrina: We didn't know about it. Like I didn't even... Apart from a farm, you know running a farm, you didn't really think that you can go and do whatever you want. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. Yeah. I know. Even at uni I feel like it wasn't really discussed a lot either. For me, it has been, I think, I guess in the last nine years it has become really a buzzword. And since we've been in business... Nine years ago when we started, there wasn't a lot of resources around compared to now. I just feel like we've got so many resources as well. 

Katrina: It's incredible. I was just saying this to a friend the other day, like we started the online store nine years ago. I mean, there was nothing.

Rebecca: Nothing.

Katrina: Even retail, like clothing retail was barely online. It was only just coming in. I started off taking the orders by email. People would email me the orders. There was no Shopify. There was no... I mean it might've been the early days in Australia maybe, but it's so much easier now all that stuff. There is so much opportunity and what you can do. 

Rebecca: So many opportunities, I think, for everyone it's just getting in there and wanting to do it think. 

Katrina: Yeah. And then it's... like I sort of tied in a little bit, like starting your own business is very much associated with having good wellbeing almost. Like you've got to be at a certain level of your own confidence and own… Yeah, like feeling good within yourself to be able to... 

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: Entrepreneurship is very much linked with having good wellbeing. So that's really... And finding your purpose and your why and all that sort of stuff. It's all so linked.

Rebecca: Absolutely. It is so linked. Absolutely.

Katrina: Yeah. And then knowing what's out there, you know, and being able to then tap into that resource that's out there. Like you and I are in that space, so we are constantly finding new things. If you've never delved into that, you just don't know what's there. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. Absolutely. I guess we went searching for things nine years ago and we just... We come up stumps so many times and even community groups and things. For us, it was trade shows, like going to trade shows, doing the physical yards and meeting people through that and networking and getting information that way, to be honest, but that was such good. 

Katrina: Yeah. And it was the same for us with farmers market. We started out doing farmers market back then and they was a great way to learn. Yeah, that's how you sort of learn. 

Rebecca: It was more people resources then whereas now I feel like there is so much more online. It's involved so much more.

Katrina: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Rebecca: That brings me to one of my next questions. What are some of the challenges that you have from running a business in a rural community? 

Katrina: This is an interesting one. I mean, it's hard to know because we haven't run a business in a city community. But I mean, I guess the main... From the online perspective, the main challenges are postage challenges, because unfortunately we are very limited. You know, Australia Post is a bit like Telstra. We don't have a lot of options up here. We don't have the competition with couriers and that kind of stuff and we can't really, because avocados are a perishable, well, people class them as a perishable, so we are very limited in who will courier them. 

Rebecca: Who do you use for your courier?

Katrina: Australia Post.

Rebecca: Australia Post, yeah.

Katrina: We do. And like it works, but it's not... It's expensive. It's a big cost and because it's a sort of a lower value product, I mean, avocado is not... Then it's hard. The postage can often be...

Rebecca: More than, yeah.

Katrina: And then I don't mind, because I am one of those shoppers that goes up prices, but don't think about it whereas Tim is like, “But that's $15 on top of... Why would people pay that?

Rebecca: But it is an actual cost to business, isn't it? 

Katrina: It is,

Rebecca: So it's really hard to educate people that, that is a cost that a business has to wear and it does come off the bottom line, particularly in rural areas. 

Katrina: Exactly. Because it's so much more expensive for me and all the big companies can do free postage now, because they are doing so many and they get such good rates, but for the smaller guys, it's still a really big challenge.

Rebecca: Big cost, yeah.

Katrina: But overall business wise, I mean, I think you know... I mean, people go on about like it's so different living in the country, but I think we would have all the same sort of challenges is what you would have running a business in the city. 

Rebecca: Agreed. Yeah.

Katrina: Especially, because it's all... I mean, obviously internet access with online business is a big thing. 

Rebecca: Yeah. How do you find internet access here and things like that all from the farm? What do you run off? Is that tricky? 

Katrina: Yeah. We've had to spend a lot of money to be able to get internet service, basically. We get good service now in the house and we get really good service at the shed, but we've had to put on all sorts of boosters and antennas. We actually run the whole thing through our mobile phones now. It costs us a fortune. That's the only thing.                         

Rebecca: We ran our business for six months in an industrial area with no internet that we couldn't go either because it was broadband and things that... We had to sell it. That's in Geelong. We came up again. We had six months where, same thing, we are running our whole business off our phone and it was... But we would also file into our Dropbox system, so that was like... We had new staff on board. We had no internet for six months, seven months. 

Katrina: That's ridiculous.

Rebecca: In a city.

Katrina: Ridiculous.

Rebecca: So there are still those obstacles I think in the city too. But internet for us is one of our major things as well.

Katrina: People often say even in the center of Melbourne you get no service. So I would say like that. Again, obviously it's not a rural or city thing, it's just that's just the challenge of business, it’s having good internet access and it's something that Australia really needs to lift its game on because it's crucial to so many businesses. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: So that a challenge.

Rebecca: And encourages more businesses to the country as well if you've got those resources as well. 

Katrina: Definitely. I mean, so many people are talking about it and everybody knows that we need better internet access and it presents so many opportunities. But yeah, so that's definitely a challenge. And then I suppose there is always just the... You know, making money is a challenge. That's a huge challenge. 

Rebecca: I think that's an every business challenge.

Katrina: Totally. You know, we've got the added variable of climate and then we've got the input of water and that sort of stuff. So trying to make sure you...

Rebecca: Yeah. How do you find balancing that with all the environmental complications and the water issues? How do you find that? 

Katrina: Yeah, it's really challenging, because I've been involved in the water stuff quite a lot. I'm on a committee that's part of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. They have a community sort of advisory panel, which I've been on. So it's really... It's such a huge contentious issue, water and access to water and you farmers getting enough water and all that sort of stuff and particularly hard in a drought. So we've had two very dry years, really low in flows. It's a huge divisive issue in our community, really around... So that's... but I mean, I guess we just try to run our business as well as possible. I have tried to be a little bit of an evangelist, but whereas Tim is always just like the best thing we can do is just run a good business, lead by example and just keep doing what we are doing. I know he is right. Like really, he is. We've done things like we've just put in a retractable roof greenhouse to try to...

Rebecca: Amazing.

Katrina: Yeah, it's awesome. So we've got a low interest rate loan through the government, actually to do it and it's... So that whole idea of that is because we know climate change is...

Rebecca: Yes, a big issue, ongoing.

Katrina: Big issue, less water. So we are just trialing and growing avocados under this projected cropping. So that has been really cool. So we are doing things like that and we just try to be as innovative as possible and try to stay ahead and think ahead and manage the water as well as we can and be as sustainable as possible, which every farmer is doing. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: But yeah, so it's just another added challenge to the business. But you know, again, like every business, no matter where you are has different...

Rebecca: Challenges.

Katrina: Challenges and risks that you've got to manage.

Rebecca: Absolutely, different economical situations. Yeah, absolutely.

Katrina: So we just take that view. It's just another part of managing the business. You choose to be a farmer, so it's just something that you've got to manage.

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: Yeah. And then I suppose staffing is always a challenge too. We are so lucky with the staff that we have, but it's a huge cost to the business as you and I were talking about. Yeah, the staffing is always a big, part of it, but yeah. Or just things you manage. 

Rebecca: Yeah. I know. Quite often as entrepreneurs we don't stop to celebrate the wins as well. So we talk about the challenges a lot, but we don't stop to celebrate the wins. I know we don’t. What have been some of the highlights of your business journey in the last nine years? 

Katrina: Oh wow. Okay. So I guess just like that we are still here and we are doing it and we are expanding. We've expanded and we've bought a new hill, so growing more avocados. So that has been really awesome just to see the business growing. It’s so rewarding to see it grow.

Rebecca: Yes, absolutely. 

Katrina: I’m really proud of that and doing the greenhouse. That has been... I've really enjoyed that experience because it seems really innovative. It’s something really different. 

Rebecca: Are their many people doing it in Australia?

Katrina: We are the first ones in the world to try avocados under a green house.

Rebecca: Wow. 

Katrina: Yeah. They are doing...

Rebecca: That's a huge win.

Katrina: Yeah, it's cool. They are doing it with cherries and apples and other kind of stuff and there are a lot of blueberries, lots of other products, but no one has tried avocados. And that could be just because it's not going to be economically... The rewards are there, but still just great to be trying something so new. I loved… Like, we haven't entered for years, but we used to be in the Delicious Produce Awards. We were like a medalist in those three times which was...

Rebecca: Fantastic.

Katrina: Yeah, that was lovely. 

Rebecca: So where does that run from as well?

Katrina: It's out of Sydney, but through the delicious, through the magazine. 

Rebecca: Fantastic.

Katrina: Yes. Every year they have the produce awards and you send samples in and they judge it.

Rebecca: Amazing.

Katrina: They've got different categories. We were medalist, like top three in that for a few years running, which is cool. Yeah. I think just, I don’t know, like it's hard to [inaudible 26:50]. Like it is really hard to think about the wins, isn't it?

Rebecca: It is.

Katrina: But I guess, just something I often think about though is the fact that we employ nine people. We've got four regulars and then different at different times we have more, during harvest and stuff like that. It's so amazing to be running a business like that, that's supporting people in the community as well. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. In a rural community where jobs are a little bit more scarce as well, so it is great to bring that to... I think that's a big win.

Katrina:  Yeah, definitely. 

Rebecca: Yeah, because it's double prong. It's not just, yeah. 

Katrina: Yeah, that's right. And then other little wins I guess, is just the fact that we now have... I feel like we've got... I mean, I would never say we’ve got the balance right, but we are much better. We've learned so much in how to manage our time better and just to be more productive. And especially I've seen that in Tim. His growth in running the business has been awesome and he does such a good job. So I love watching that. It's really rewarding to see what a good job he is doing and the farm looks amazing and all that. And I think we don't stop. I try to remind him because I think it's really nice to celebrate that.

Rebecca: It’s even those small things and coming so far in yourself as a manager and things like that, because we are not... We haven't been to business school or there is no manager. There are courses, but it is such a foreign thing and it's a big thing as well. 

Katrina: I mean, because we were so lucky to come back to a farm that’s running, but you can easily run it into the ground. 

Rebecca: That's right.

Katrina: You can easily, so...

Rebecca: And the pressure is sometimes more on when it has been running efficiently rather than something that has been run into the ground that you've got the opportunity to build back up as well. 

Katrina: Exactly. Yeah. So it's great to see the farm looking so good and just to be doing such a good job with it. Yeah. I think it's just really important to celebrate that win, isn't it? 

Rebecca: So important.

Katrina: We are still here and doing business.

Rebecca: And surviving. Absolutely. I think, yeah. And that's definitely something we don't do enough of either, but when we are writing our… We did our story and we were like, "Wow, we've done...” Like when you actually write out what you've done in nine years, you are like, oh, we actually have, because sometimes it feels like you are so in it, you don't get time to reflect back on and you feel like you are not moving the needle, but you really are moving the needle. You just don't reflect on that enough sometimes. 

Katrina: Yes. Especially for you in your industry, to still be in your industry after nearly 10 years is awesome. A lot of businesses, you know what they say, fail in the first two years. 

Rebecca: Yeah. Christie and I were talking about last week from that first trade show that we did nine years ago, there is probably only a small handful, even if a handful still going. 

Katrina: See, they go.

Rebecca: Yeah, that statistics is, when you actually see it in fruition as well, I think it is astounding.

Katrina: Definitely. And it's something to be proud of.

Rebecca: And why it's so important to support small business as well. 

Katrina: Exactly. Have you seen the Bar from the Bush campaign?

Rebecca: I have. That has gone viral, hasn't it? 

Katrina: It is amazing. 

Rebecca: Amazing. It's so good.

Katrina: We were on there just the start of this week actually and yeah, [inaudible 29:47] followers and heaps of orders, because we just put that online shop back up and it's fantastic.

Rebecca: See one idea of how to overcome something that's negative that's turned into a positive. And you know, it's amazing. 

Katrina: Yeah, I love it. That sort of stuff is so good.

Rebecca: Or businesses being born out of the drought they are having to diversify or... I think it's amazing. 

Katrina: It's exactly what you were talking about before, flipping it around to see the opportunity rather than just the negative side.

Rebecca: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.

Katrina: Okay, but what's the opportunity?

Rebecca: And I think sometimes when you are in those bad things, you can't think outside that, but there is always opportunity to flip it around and make it into something even bigger than what you ever anticipated as well. 

Katrina: Definitely. Often the greatest things come out of the worst times and the greatest...

Rebecca: Agreed, the situations. Yeah. I agree. Like the ones that I've seen, it has been something that they can't or they are frustrated with and then they've started a business and overcome that. So not just for themselves, but other people as well.

Katrina: That's right because it forces you to think outside the square to overcome that or, yeah. That's that mindset stuff, isn't it? And being able to see it differently. 

Rebecca: Yeah. I think mindset is a really hard thing and yeah, in business it can trickle very quickly either way as well. 

Katrina: Yes for sure. And in a community too, and like culturally you can have that... It can either go, yeah.

Rebecca: Absolutely. Absolutely. When things are tough it is flipping that mindset and I think sometimes having your own space so you can work on your thoughts as well is really important as well. 

Katrina: Yeah. Because whatever you put out as well, that [crosstalk 31:23]

Rebecca: What comes back as well. Yeah. So it's like you can't control other people, but that's right, you can still put out, yeah.

Katrina: Exactly. You can lead by example [crosstalk 31:32]

Rebecca: That's right. Absolutely. 

Katrina: Maybe sow some seeds and then people pick up on what you are doing and think, oh maybe I can try that.

Rebecca: Absolutely. That's it.

Katrina: [Crosstalk 31:38] because you can't change people.

Rebecca: You can't change people, absolutely not. No. So you are heavily involved in the local community and local community groups. What tips can you give to someone looking to make the city change with their business to the country?

Katrina: Ah, yeah. Well, this is an interesting one actually because it was a sort of easy, like we are heavily involved in the community, as you said, but it was sort of easy for us, like, well, I see it as being a bit easier because I was from here. So I sort of knew, I guess, what groups to get involved with and the stuff. But I imagine for someone coming up it could be like if you moved like you don't know where to... Where do I go? But interestingly, last night we did a live recording of our podcast. I've got a podcast as well. 

Rebecca: Tell us what your podcast is.

Katrina: It's called Spreading the Good Stuff.

Rebecca: Spreading the Good Stuff, fantastic.

Katrina: That I do with a couple of other girls. And we did a night of Thanksgiving and gratitude,

Rebecca: Yeah. Fantastic.

Katrina: And we got some of the people from the audience to come up. One of them was [inaudible 32:33] who has brought on [inaudible 32:35] and she moved up to [inaudible 32:37] 10 years ago. And she said one of the ways that she got involved with the community was by joining all the committees. So it can be a really great way to integrate yourself into a community and get involved. And people in rural communities love it. Fresh blood, new people come and help us. 

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: If you are enthusiastic and you just want to help, then people, because volunteers are burnt out in the country, because it's always the same people.

Rebecca: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Katrina: So it's... and we have really... I really value that because I think I grew up with parents who were heavily involved in the community as well. And so it's just something that I really value and I've made a big effort to do it. And it just, again, it really contributes to your own well-being as well. 

Rebecca: I could not agree more.

Katrina: Yeah. By putting, you know and giving that back to your community and feeling part of it. I can imagine it could be quite intimidating for a new person who is moving into a place and doesn't know, but I highly recommend just getting involved because people will embrace it.

Rebecca: Absolutely. Totally. I think everyone embraces it in a smaller community. It's well-embraced.

Katrina: Definitely. And there are always challenges. And I have to say like I've learned a lot. I'm just like, through my own growth and sort of leadership skills and all that kind of stuff by being involved with different community groups and also just different personalities and how you work in groups, you can really learn a lot from that as well. And meetings are such funny things.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: [Crosstalk 33:58]

Rebecca: It's like being in the workforce too, you know, with a varied community of people and how they say you need all those personalities to make a workplace work. I guess it's the same in a community too, isn't it? 

Katrina: Definitely.

Rebecca: So it's embracing all those different personalities.

Katrina: Yes, and again, seeing that as a positive to build you forward rather than a negative.

Rebecca: That's right.

Katrina: So there is a lot to be learned I think, and you can really thrive and it helps you personally and it helps the community by getting involved. It's a great way to meet people and to feel a part of things.

Rebecca: And raising kids too, I think. Like I, yeah, I can't speak more highly of growing up in the country. I think a lot of people see it as a disadvantage, but I see it as a superpower still now. I still use it as a superpower. 

Katrina: Absolutely. I try to get everyone I can to move back to Barham. I think I've to get you to move back too actually. You can totally move back here too.

Rebecca: I think, yeah... Some of my strongest friendships are still the ones that I grew up with and I think you can't put a value on that to feel safe and nurtured in that community growing up, especially when there is diversity or something happens. It has got its positive and its negatives, like everything, like I say, but I think, I don't know, always feeling safe and people knowing. If there is something there people pick up and carry on.  

Katrina: Definitely. That support network is amazing and I think, yeah, exactly. Like I was saying earlier, I don't think it's that much more challenging to run a business in a rural area as it is in the city, but you get great quality of life.

Rebecca:  Absolutely. Absolutely. 

Katrina: It's cheaper. Everything is cheaper. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. And calmer as well, like with traffic.

Katrina: Oh no traffic. If I can't park in front of the supermarket, I get very grumpy.

Rebecca: That's right. So you are not frustrated or beeping horns or you haven't gone through 20 minutes of frustrated people in traffic and so you already start the day off of what calmer that as opposed to... 

Katrina: Yeah, definitely. 

Rebecca: What's already a busy lifestyle. I guess. 

Katrina: I'm very pro trying to get people to move back. I think I've got... I've got a couple of friends back actually. Yeah, they have moved back mostly over the past few years.

Rebecca: I appreciate it so much more now that I've got children as well. I think I appreciate it so much more as I've got kids and that sense of community. I think I probably underestimated it really. 

Katrina: Oh, me too. Definitely. Definitely. I think I really valued it after. So I lost dad to suicide when I was younger and that's when I really saw the benefit of the community. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: They all just came together and it's so amazing.

Rebecca: Meals on the doorstep.

Katrina: Amazing. Helped pick all the pumpkins and all the community groups and stuff like that and then lost connection to that for a while and then like you said...

Rebecca: Because you do, you don't value... It's the same as when Amelia was born and mum was away in the Royal Children's hospital for eight weeks and dad was working full time. The amount of meals that got. The amount of people that looked after us or ran us around this board or you know. I think, yeah, it's amazing that the community… It's one of the biggest strengths of raising in a small community is everyone rallying around when times are tough. 

Katrina: I think when you then have your own kids then you start to look for that again. Like, you want that connection. 

Rebecca: Agreed, because you are like, what happens if I'm not here? How is that going to work? What happens? Where can I go? 

Katrina: That's right. So yeah, you can't underestimate that power of community [crosstalk 37:19].

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Katrina: I love it. 

Rebecca: Self-care is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. What are some of the tips or what are some of the things you do for self-care as well? 

Katrina: Yep. Self-care is a big thing for me. I'm really passionate about it. It's interesting that you say it's buzzword because it is a bit, I guess. A lot of people are kind of, yeah, I don't know, maybe cashing in on it a bit, but it's actually so important.

Rebecca: So important. 

Katrina: Yeah. And so that's sort of like our podcast. We talk a lot about self-care and it's all about living positively and how you can sustain good wellbeing and all that kind of stuff, so really passionate about having good self-care. I think that has actually really helped us in business too. 

Rebecca: Absolutely. 

Katrina: Because we, you know... Particularly me, I find it a lot harder to get it in, to implement good self-care practices, but he probably just does it in different ways. Like it's not the way that...

Rebecca: Is there men shed or anything here?

Katrina: Yeah, there is. Well, it's more older… It's more elder men. 

Rebecca: Is it?

Katrina: Yeah. 

Rebecca: I know it's hard for... because T quite often says the same. He goes, because women talking business and I've got a network because we are kind of in the kids space that I can ring and talk business to and he goes, “I don't have that many people on that level that he can ring and talk to about business as well”. So I think it's a gap. I think it's a gap.

Katrina: Oh, totally. And women are a lot better at talking about. We go for coffees and all that stuff and blokes don’t [crosstalk 38:42]

Rebecca: No. Absolutely. 

Katrina: They won't ring their friends and say, "Do you want to go for coffee?"

Rebecca: Yeah, absolutely.

Katrina: Whereas they will go for a beer on a Friday, which I suppose is just different. It's just that that's for them, that's it. But, yeah, so I... I meditate twice a day. I do like, I exercise a lot and do... I'm really quite strict on my self-care, I guess, like looking after my well-being. It's like it's a daily practice for me.

Rebecca: Yeah, it's so important.

Katrina: It's really, really important I think. And it takes a lot of work.

Rebecca: Yes, it does.

Katrina: It's not just, yeah...

Rebecca: I think that's a thing, isn't it? Like putting good practice into place is work like anything else. It's making it routine. And I think you've got to do it so many times before it becomes a routine. 

Katrina: Definitely, and we talked about this last night as well, because the trouble is when... because you still have shit times and you still will have times when everything just gets too much. 

Rebecca: Yeah, chaos.

Katrina: But if you don't have those practices in place, because they will fall by the wayside when you have the crappy times too. Like you forget to do your things, you don't like doing it, but you've got to have all that groundwork in place. And then what you find is, and what I've found is you get out of the bad times much quicker. I think that's the goal. It is when...

Rebecca: That's the key.

Katrina: Because you are still going to have. It's not all about always amazing and everything's fine and you know, it's [crosstalk 39:58].

Rebecca: It's not a one pill [inaudible 40:00] fix, is it really?

Katrina: No, not at all. But you can recover a lot quicker. And that's what it's about. It's about not letting those bad times overtake everything. And so that's what I've really found. Particularly this year I've had a couple of difficult experiences I guess, but I've been able to get out of them much quicker rather than wallow in it. 

Rebecca: Yeah. It's a hard one, isn't it? And I guess for me, I'm finding self-care is different, looks different for everyone. Like, I was asking questions. So it depends what's filling your bucket or what works for you as an individual. It's not a one size fits all kind of thing as well. 

Katrina: That's so true. And we talk about that a lot as well. It's really... It's trial and error. You've got to find out what works for you. You go through different stages too. Like all of the three of us who do the podcast together. We always... You know, like at one stage you'll be doing more journaling or you'll be going through patch of practicing gratitude more. And then you go down a rabbit hole of, because once you get into the wellbeing space as well, and you learn about this stuff and you find something new here and then you try something new. That's actually part of the goodness of it too, is the learning. So yes, definitely not one size fits all. There is no recipe. And that's kind of the challenge and the joy of it, is that it's for you to discover what works for you. 

Rebecca: Find, discover. Yeah. It's really, because I asked Christie the same question the other day and it's probably not something that I thought of self-care, but she was saying travel because it's like that head space around and they make sure that they have a week out with their kids every school holidays. That has been a thing that's like a massive self-care thing for them. And I was like, oh brilliant.

Katrina: Yes, absolutely, whatever it is. I think it's just actually consciously taking time to do self-care. And that's what a lot of people aren't doing. They are just, you know...

Rebecca: In the grind.

Katrina: Stock on auto pilot.

Rebecca: The grind. And I think there is... I don't know, growing up in the country, I think maybe it was all about the grind and the hustle in small business and there wasn't the talk around the importance of self-care or their importance because it is 24/7 constantly. And it's putting those practices in place or boundaries in place that make that... Otherwise it can definitely get on top of you.

Katrina: It's really about putting those practices in place, I guess, isn't it? Like just making sure that they are in place and they are there consistently and that you do them even more so when things are good. When things are good, get everything and then when things go bad, you'll be able to get back on track quicker. 

Rebecca: I think that the thing, isn't? When things are bad, it's harder to work your way into those practices where if you've got them set up while things are great and going smooth, it's easier to maintain them as well. 

Katrina: Definitely. Yeah, definitely. It's really important. 

Rebecca: So what is next for Barham Avocados? 

Katrina: Oh yeah, so...

Rebecca: [Inaudible 42:46]

Katrina: Yeah. Well, that's right. I guess, like personally that's where I'm at. I'm at that point where I'm kind of wanting to do my own thing now in that sort of education space and online learning and like all about kind of empowering rural women really to have businesses and to have good wellbeing. That's sort of where I'm heading. I've been wanting to do it for about five years, but… 

Rebecca: It's such a great opportunity though, for people, particularly now with housing costs rising. It's more difficult when you've got high mortgages and things like that in city areas. It's easier. The cost of living is less. Some things are more, petrol. 

Katrina: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Those sorts of things and yeah, probably internet, but yeah. 

Rebecca: It is. It kind of balances out, I think always as well. And it is always less, so it is great opportunities for people wanting to start a business to move to a rural area. 

Katrina: Definitely. Yeah. And I'm really passionate about that, trying to do it with good wellbeing and not you burn yourself out and not risk your family life and all that kind of stuff and have that kind of, you know, make it sustainable. So that's sort of where I'm heading personally. And then Barham Avocado is where we sort of shut down the online shop for a little bit, but we are just about to revamp that. We've got some stuff on there now, but next year we are going to give it a whole facelift and more products and have all avocado products and do also like value added stuff. I've just put on a friend. She has come to work for us, actually so she can be managing all that. So that's going to be really exciting.

And yeah, we've expanded the... We are growing more avocados. We will probably plant some more next year. We are going to start to explore sort of the export market stuff and all that sort of thing as well. We've researched a lot what there is to value add like for in terms of value added products. We've been really lucky because avocados have been worth so much just as avocado, hasn't really been worth value by adding them. But prices are going to be starting to come back down and everything now because there are so many avocados being grown and all that sort of stuff. 

Rebecca: Is there really?

Katrina: Yeah.

Rebecca: Where else in Australia? Like, where is...? 

Katrina: Well, they grow them all around Australia. Like in... All over Australia, you can grow them, which means we can have a year round supply from Australia, which is pretty cool. 

Rebecca: That's amazing, yeah.

Katrina: But a lot of people are planting them because they've seen the value in them. It's the same. Everyone is so reactive. It's like, oh, avocados are worth a lot. Let's all grow avocados and then oh, fancy that, the price comes down, so just trying to prepare for that.

Rebecca; It's like having everything [inaudible 45:11] then you find a niche and you get stuck into that niche and it's [crosstalk 45:16].

Katrina: The next minute everybody is on it. Yeah, that's right. So just looking towards the future for that and then starting to do some more of my own stuff, which is nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. Yeah. 

Rebecca: Where can people find you on social as well that anyone wants to follow the journey or is interested? 

Katrina: Yes. Well, Barham Avocados is our Instagram. We've got Instagram and Facebook and then a website, Barhamavocados.com.au. And then my personal one is just Katrina_Meyers. 

Rebecca: Fantastic. Awesome. Thanks so much. This has been awesome.

Katrina: So lovely.

Rebecca: Yeah. Thank you.

Katrina: Thanks for talking to me, Bec. I loved it. Thank you

Rebecca: Wow, so many great tips. I hope you got as much out of that, listening to my chat with Katrina as I did taking away. I honestly could talk to Katrina forever. We have so much in common and I find her a huge inspiration running her business alongside her husband and with her four children, so hugely, hugely inspirational. Thanks again Katrina for having me at one of your events tonight and also for sitting down and taking the time to have a chat with me and share your story. That's it for this week guys. And until next week, that's all for No Better, Be Better. If you like this episode, please leave us a review or share it on iTunes. Thanks guys. 

Thanks to everyone for tuning into our podcast. No Better, Be Better. If you liked our show, don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review. It would mean the world to us and if you would like to find out more about our small business, join us at www.miannandco.com.au. For now, keep learning and striving to do better and remember to enjoy the journey and not just the end results.

 

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