March 6, 2019 Service

Specialist Timbers.

Guest post from ETC.

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 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.”

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.

Ken’s dog Tippa likes to be close to the action.

The business is environmentally-aware, working with landcare groups, tree loppers, council and forestry to salvage as much good timber as possible. They stock many species; and supply everything from box-making timber, timber for turning and carving, and first-grade guitar body blanks; through to seed pods from the giant Western Australian bull banksia tree. If you need a wide tabletop and can’t find a slab big enough, Ken can professionally join two slabs together for you!

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 says “Exploring Being My Own Boss workshops are a great opportunity to learn the basics of starting a business and talk to other likeminded people about your ideas.”

Ken thanked ETC for helping him 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.

Do you have a great idea for a new business? NEIS is an Australian Government sponsored new business training program, to assist with self-employment. Use the postcode finder for your local provider and contact them for a chat. 

This story was provided by ETC, a not-for-profit employment and training provider. Operating for 30 years, ETC helps people in many different situations to overcome their personal challenges and learn the skills they need to find sustainable employment. ETC delivers the NEIS program on the Mid North Coast and North Coast regions of NSW.

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