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Ken holding a plank of timber at his sawmill

Coffs Coast local Ken Cowden took a leap of faith by starting his own business so he could pursue his passion for timber.

After a nine-year stint working for a University, Mr Cowden found himself with the classic Monday-morning-itis and knew it was time for a change.

“I got to a point where I thought, I’d like to look back on my working life and know that I really enjoyed what I was doing,” Mr Cowden said.

“I knew about the NEIS program already from many years ago. I found out that I was eligible and went into ETC and was encouraged to join Exploring Being my Own Boss followed by the New Business Assistance with NEIS program.” (now known as the Self-Employment Assistance program as of 1 July 2022)

Thanks to the support of ETC, Korora Specialist Timbers officially opened its doors in June 2018.

“My business is principally timber sales. I specialise in timber that is difficult to source and not stocked by normal sawmills. I have a mobile sawmill which I can transport to sites and mill logs for people. I’m also able to dress timber for people,” Mr Cowden said.

Mr Cowden said his working life enjoyment had increased exponentially since starting his own business.

“I find it hard to leave the shed and have to force myself to take some time off, because I’m just enjoying what I’m doing so much. Making a living and income from something you love is really something everyone should aim for (whether it be working for yourself or someone else),” he said.

So what does the future hold for Mr Cowden?

“I haven’t decided yet. I think I’ll get to a point where I can’t cope with the time demands, so I guess the next step there would be hiring staff,” he said.

Mr Cowden shares his tips for others considering starting their own business.

“Seek professional help, don’t try and go at it alone. If you’re lucky enough to have a family member or friend who’s been through small business then seek support from them.”

ETC Small Business Manager Gerard Klinkers said Exploring Being My Own Boss was a great opportunity to learn the basics of starting a business and talk to other likeminded people about your ideas.

“We provide a workshop conducted over two weeks (25 hours per week) which is fully subsidised by the Australian Government (eligibility criteria applies.) This can then feed into the New Business Assistance with NEIS program or other relevant opportunities,” Mr Klinkers said.

Ken thanked ETC for helping him to turn his hobby into a dream job.

“It’s quite a jolt starting a small business, without both the Exploring Being My Own Boss and New Business Assistance with NEIS programs it would be so much more difficult. I’m very glad I participated, as I learned so much. There’s so much to get your head around at the start. It seems almost impossible to start up without all this help. I’ve found ETC and my trainer/mentor Kim Hastings to be very professional with heaps of knowledge and experience,” Mr Cowden said.

Have you ever considered starting your own business?

Self-Employment Assistance helps eligible job seekers to start and run their own business. Find out more about Self-Employment Assistance>



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