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The many benefits of running a small business

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Aboriginal man in white and black t-shirt stands next to a black, yellow and green coloured ride-on lawn mower. In the background is a car, a fence and other equipment.
Successful small business owner Ian Harris
18 Jul 2018

Starting a small lawn mowing and maintenance business brought unexpected but welcomed benefits to Ian Harris, a Ngiyaampaa man from Lake Cargelligo in central NSW.

Three years ago, bored and depressed because of unemployment, Ian jumped at the chance to start the business when a friend suggested he tender for work at Home and Community Care (HACC).

He was successful in his bid and with a small loan from Many Rivers Microfinance, bought a lawn-mower and whipper snipper.

As a diabetes sufferer who walked regularly to keep his weight down, Ian immediately saw the additional benefits of his new business.

‘Walking, looking after your diabetes can only do so much,’ Ian said.

‘The extra activity was something to keep your mind going and the lawn mowing came in handy.’

Over time, Ian secured more clients and bigger yards which meant he needed a bigger trailer and more mowing power.

In 2018, he received an Indigenous Entrepreneur Fund grant which enabled him to purchase new equipment including a Zero-turn ride-on mower.

‘This meant it would be more efficient and quicker. I could do more jobs and do bigger yards,’ Ian said.

An additional contract with Mid Lachlan Aboriginal Housing has increased Ian’s workload and has him travelling to West Wyalong and other towns in the area.

This gradual expansion over the past 3 years also meant he took on an employee, another local Ngiyaampaa man.

Ian has also benefited from the relationships he has built with his clients.

‘Most of my clients are elderly women who have lost their partners and they have been just terrific,’ Ian said.

‘They showed me a lot of respect and what I found was my time there was 80 to 90% work and the rest was a yarn and that suited me too. They create an atmosphere where you don’t mind going to the job.’

Ian is confident about the future because he has the equipment to take on new jobs and the support from friends to help out in the busy times.

Ian is grateful for the support he has received in the form of advice, loans and grants.

And he is looking forward to continuing his service to his clients and employing more people on a regular basis.

Find out more

Helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples start their own business or obtain full-time employment and satisfying careers is a high priority for the Australian Government.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet supported Ian Harris through business advice, support and grant funding for plant and equipment through the Indigenous Entrepreneur Fund (IEF).

The Australian Government helps fund Many Rivers Microfinance to provide small loans to Indigenous businesses.

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