46 - Mimika Cooney Talks Entrepreneurship, Creativity, and Motherhood

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


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