Mimi­ka Cooney was born and raised in South Africa. In 1994, upon high school grad­u­a­tion, her world opened when Nel­son Man­dela came into pow­er. Pri­or to that, South Africans were iso­lat­ed from the rest of the world and did not have access to the con­ve­niences of mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy,  e.g., tele­vi­sion and the Inter­net.

Fast for­ward a few years, Mimi­ka got mar­ried and was work­ing as a Tele­vi­sion Pro­duc­tion Assis­tant. How­ev­er, she and her hus­band were both entre­pre­neur­ial mind­ed and real­ized the Inter­net was going to be the next biggest thing. The Cooneys became deter­mined to devel­op an Inter­net-based busi­ness.

Dur­ing the first few years of the mar­riage, they worked round-the-clock keep­ing their day jobs then devot­ing evenings to their bud­ding Inter­net busi­ness. The self-taught web­site devel­op­ers began help­ing oth­er busi­ness own­ers to mar­ket them­selves through web­site devel­op­ment. As their Inter­net mar­ket­ing busi­ness grew suc­cess­ful, it afford­ed them the abil­i­ty to quit  their “day jobs” and relo­cate the fam­i­ly to Eng­land. South Africa will always be their home­land but they knew mov­ing to Europe would pro­vide the type of oppor­tu­ni­ties need­ed to take their busi­ness to the next lev­el. Mimi­ka had to quick­ly adapt her Inter­net mar­ket­ing ser­vices to meet the dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al needs and demands of the UK busi­ness own­er. To this day, her hus­band still runs that busi­ness which ser­vices South Africa, the UK and US.

Dur­ing her time in Eng­land, she also began to explore her pas­sion of pho­tog­ra­phy. She fell in love with the new medi­um and want­ed to rein­vent her­self as a busi­ness woman this new indus­try. Once again, she focused her day­time respon­si­bil­i­ties on rais­ing her chil­dren and help­ing her hus­band man­age their exist­ing online mar­ket­ing busi­ness. In the evening she attend­ed night school to learn every­thing she could about pho­tog­ra­phy. Mimi­ka want­ed to become a full-time, pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Deter­mined to help con­tribute to the house­hold income with this new career path, she began to research the mar­ket and her com­pe­ti­tion to fig­ure out what peo­ple want­ed and what the mar­ket demand­ed. As Mimi­ka states, “there’s no point in hav­ing a great idea if no one wants to buy it. You can do what you love but you’ve got to fol­low the mon­ey.” She spent the next year devel­op­ing a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phy port­fo­lio and mar­ket­ing her ser­vices to the local com­mu­ni­ty. Her back­ground in online mar­ket­ing helped to quick­ly turn her pas­sion of pho­tog­ra­phy into anoth­er suc­cess­ful busi­ness pur­suit until she and her hus­band had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to relo­cate to the US. The dynam­ic Mimi­ka used this move as a cat­a­lyst to rein­vent her­self in what she calls anoth­er “Madon­na moment.” Each move has taught her how to use her skills and where her skills are valu­able. Ini­tial­ly she rebrand­ed her­self as a fam­i­ly and baby pho­tog­ra­ph­er. She spe­cial­ized in baby por­trai­ture and authored books on the sub­ject.

Mimi­ka then returned to her mar­ket­ing roots and now helps oth­ers to mar­ket them­selves. As a mar­ket­ing strate­gist, she enjoys help­ing oth­er busi­ness­es to see what a mar­ket needs from it and how to most effec­tive­ly mar­ket its prod­ucts or ser­vices.

She came from a busi­ness back­ground and knew the fun­da­men­tals of run­ning a busi­ness in any indus­try does not change when one choos­es to turn their pas­sion into a busi­ness ven­ture. For exam­ple, she says 20% of her pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness was actu­al shoot­ing and the oth­er 80% dealt with the func­tions of suc­cess­ful­ly run­ning and man­ag­ing a busi­ness. She rec­og­nizes that just because some­one loves a busi­ness idea,  it doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean it will trans­late into a busi­ness prod­uct the con­sumer wants. We do have to think about things through our audi­ences’ view­point.

Again, busi­ness fun­da­men­tals do not change across indus­tries.

Just because a mar­ket is sat­u­rat­ed, doesn’t mean you can’t find your niche and charge more than every­one else.  Mimi­ka acknowl­edges that Erin’s point is a good one but real­izes every­one has a dif­fer­ent niche. This is pre­cise­ly why she enjoys teach­ing peo­ple how to brand and mar­ket them­selves to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their busi­ness­es. She encour­ages busi­ness own­ers to think about “Who is your tar­get mar­ket?” In hind­sight, she real­izes that deal­ing with peo­ple who were not her ide­al clients was detri­men­tal to her busi­ness. The clients who are not worth your time are worth say­ing “No” to. Her busi­ness was run­ning HER rather than she being able to run her own busi­ness. Mimi­ka now knows that peo­ple who are suc­cess­ful in what­ev­er they do have a very focused vision of where they are going and who they are tar­get­ing. Find­ing an ide­al client is always a work in progress but some­thing the busi­ness own­er should con­stant­ly visu­al­ize and iden­ti­fy. To effec­tive­ly mar­ket your­self, con­sid­er these ques­tions:

  1. Who are you after?
  2. Where are they look­ing
  3. Who else is mar­ket­ing to your client that you might be able to part­ner with?

Mar­ket­ing is about becom­ing vis­i­ble and stand­ing out from your com­pe­ti­tion. She believes the only way to stand out is to be in the right mar­ket, at the right place, at the right time. Also, as a busi­ness own­er, if you know where you want to be it helps you to stay focused and mea­sure your suc­cess. Decide how you see your life then design your busi­ness to suit your lifestyle.

The bound­aries she cre­ates to main­tain her work-life bal­ance are ever-chang­ing. Her “won’t do” list became just as impor­tant as what she “would do” in order to keep her­self, her fam­i­ly and her busi­ness hap­py. Through her many busi­ness evo­lu­tions, her chil­dren have served as a reminder to slow down, enjoy the jour­ney, roll with the punch­es and cel­e­brate the wins.

More About Mimi­ka:   South African born Mimi­ka Cooney is an inter­na­tion­al award-win­ning pho­tog­ra­ph­er, TV Host, pub­lished author, speak­er and small busi­ness mar­ket­ing expert. She owns a res­i­den­tial pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio spe­cial­iz­ing in fash­ion, beau­ty and baby por­trai­ture based in Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na, USA.

Mimika’s pho­tog­ra­phy work has appeared on tele­vi­sion on an Amer­i­can PBS TV doc­u­men­tary, she has authored two books on pho­tog­ra­phy and reg­u­lar­ly speaks at pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phy con­ven­tions in the UK and USA.

Mimi­ka has expe­ri­ence as a live on-air TV broad­cast­er and pre­sen­ter in Eng­land in 2003 as the host of “York Today” a mag­a­zine show. She was trained in TV pre­sen­ta­tion and broad­cast­ing by CNN news anchor, Nadia Bilchik, in South Africa back in 1997. As a teenag­er she gained expe­ri­ence as a work­ing mod­el in print and TV com­mer­cials.

Mimi­ka is the cre­ator and host of her own web show “Mimi­ka TV” inter­view­ing suc­cess­ful cre­ative entre­pre­neurs and pho­tog­ra­phers at www.mimikacooney.com.

She enjoys shar­ing her busi­ness, mar­ket­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy knowl­edge coach­ing oth­er pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers and small busi­ness own­ers through her sig­na­ture www.CaptureSchool.com