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Juggling the demands of a young family with a rapidly growing business can only be done with military-style organisation and help from champion babysitters, says Passionberry founder Fiona McIntyre.

Nine years ago Fiona and her husband, Jason, left their corporate careers and bought 60 acres of bare, dry paddock north of Auckland. After some serious research, they decided to give strawberry growing a go.

ANZ customer story

Nine years ago Fiona and her husband, Jason, left their corporate careers and bought 60 acres of bare, dry paddock north of Auckland. After some serious research, they decided to give strawberry growing a go.

Fast-forward to today, and they are the proud parents of 3½ year old Riley and their other baby – Passionberry – a strawberry cocktail business, made from their sweet-tasting premium berries.

Fiona says her number one tip for managing a business and parenting is organisation. It’s vital that she and Jason understand exactly what the other is doing each day so they can plan and assist where needed.

“Second tip - agree on times when you shut the office door and don’t talk about the business.”

Their young son is a great reminder of what life is like beyond work, and an incentive to switch off and enjoy family time together.

Thirdly, enlist the help of champions - from babysitters and family who can help when things are hectic, to advisers like business bankers who can make business easier with expert support.

“As a young couple running a start-up together, you can expect to fulfil many roles such as support person, business adviser, homemaker and general dogsbody employee. Without adequate support and systems in place it is easy to get behind in one or many of these,” Fiona says.

That’s why their bank, ANZ, has proved invaluable in helping Passionberry to grow, says Fiona.

“ANZ is so accessible – our manager is always just a phone call away and ready to help. When you are a busy business, it’s good to know you won’t be waiting on the phone for half an hour.”

Understand their business

The couple’s Bank Manager took the time to really understand their business, and has offered solutions that meet their individual needs, from online banking tools to temporary EFTPOS terminals for use at food shows and other events, says Fiona.

“ANZ also runs useful workshops for small businesses that provide sound advice on everything from cash-flow to women in business,” she says.

“We have been banking with them for less than a year but wish we had started sooner.”

With the support of business experts and babysitters alike, the couple have enjoyed great success with Passionberry. Within 12 months of launching, they were exporting to China, and then to the Pacific Islands – both markets cannot readily source fresh authentic ingredients such as strawberries.

Fiona, who has a background in super yacht event management, jokes she had too many martini glasses left over from those years, and the duo began experimenting with blends.

After five years of cocktail parties and everyone telling them they should bottle the stuff, they did.

"Managing family commitments with the demands of an export business can be tough and it's certainly not your average 9 - 5 day job. But we're really proud of what we have achieved so far. In a short period of time we've seen our concept go from being just an idea to a viable start-up business and we've worked really hard to grow that into an export operation that showcases the best of our Kiwi innovation.”

Thinking of growing or starting your business, and after some expert business advice? Talk to an ANZ Business Specialist today. Also check out our free workshops for small businesses in your area, focusing on everything from cash-flow to women in business.

Check out Passionberry's website to find out more about their strawberry cocktails.

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