Owning a small business is like having a child that doesn’t sleep, according to Tamara Cook, owner of events management agency, Known Associates Events.

“Of course, it’s extremely joyful but it’s also all-consuming and always in the back of your mind,” said Tamara.

Freedom of running own business

Tamara founded Known Associates in 2007. The business was created on a promise to prioritise premium service and inclusivity within the events industry.

After gaining industry experience and connections as the Events Coordinator for the Fremantle Dockers Football Club, Tamara started organising her own charity events while still working full time.

“My first big solo event was such an unexpected success, charting as one of the top 10 New Year's Eve events, that it became an obvious choice to continue in the events sector after I took maternity leave,” Tamara said.

“My client list slowly grew as my children grew, so I didn’t need to return to employment under someone else.”

“The freedom it offered was perfect.”

Not so easy being green

While Tamara had a wealth of experience in organising and conducting events, she felt she still went into business “pretty green”.

“The only thing I was sure of was my ability to manage complex, distinctive events that people seriously enjoyed, along with a love of people,” Tamara disclosed.

“Market research and business nous came second to my skillset.

“I had a lot to learn and I’m still learning every day.”

The SBDC is a mentor in your back pocket

Throughout her business journey, Tamara has sought out various sources of advice, including by searching online resources. However, she turned to the SBDC last year when seeking advice on a sensitive staff matter.

“I worked with a SBDC adviser regarding a termination matter,” Tamara shared.

“It was so difficult for so many reasons but because, ultimately, I just did not want to do it.

“The SBDC gave me the tools and advice to make a clear decision that was best for not only the business, but the employee.

“I received advice on how to act fairly and compassionately and the SBDC team support was enormously reassuring because if you’re making big decisions that impact many lives, you really want to be comfortable that you are acting on sound advice,” she said.

Photo of Tamara Cook and her team from Known Associates Events.
Tamara Cook (centre) founded Known Associates in 2007. The business is created on a promise to prioritise premium service and inclusivity within the events industry.

Growing your people is the best reward

In the early days of owning her own business, Tamara said that the flexibility was the most appealing aspect, but what matters to her has evolved as her business and children grew.

“Today the flexibility is still really important, but now it’s also the absolute joy of seeing my team members go from strength to strength, doing bigger and more extravagant projects, and building fantastically strong relationships with our clients.” Tamara said.

“Customer service and personal joy is at the forefront of our ethos and seeing the team live those values and be proud of their work is incredibly rewarding.”

Tamara believes that letting go and wholeheartedly trusting those who she has assigned to be part of the organisation’s journey is one of the biggest lessons she has learned.

“I have also strived to learn from my team as much I teach, and to know that their success is my success,” she said.

Future focus on team culture

Tamara’s future business plans include attaining a team culture award.

“Good culture is our beating heart,” she said.

“Your team, good communication, listening, and strong relationships are everything.

“Treat people right and it will come back to you tenfold, is the advice I would give to other fledgling businesses.”

“Collectively, I’d like our vibrant and loyal team to continue to grow personally and professionally, and hopefully make Known Associates Events the most sought-after boutique Event Management business in the country.”

As for her personal goals, Tamara says, “I never want to stop educating myself in business and in life in general because the more I learn, the more enjoyable the journey.”

More information

For more information on support available that assisted Tamara’s business, and other WA businesses to get started, see the following information.

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Small business stories
13 March 2024