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Running a Business

A Photography Workshop on Storytelling & Branding with WPM


I was recently invited to conduct a session on Photography: The Art Storytelling & Branding at Women Photographers Malaysia’s first-ever workshop! It was hosted at Citizen M Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, gathering about 20 of us from different backgrounds – the organisers, participants, our talents, and fellow photographers – all who shared one common interest: a love for this art.

It felt good to be connected with these photographers – some were already full time photographers, others were considering on making it as their career, or were hobbyists and even students who want to learn more.

When I was planning the workshop, I knew I wanted to run it in a way that was more than just a theoretical session. For me, it was important that participants could go back with real thoughts that would challenge them where they are, at whatever stage they might be at.

So I was really glad when many came up to me after the workshop to tell me what they experienced and learned in just three hours. Here are some other feedback message I received:

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Introducing Stories for Business

Since our company, Integricity Visuals Sdn Bhd was incorporated in 2008, we have used this name for all our corporate work, including separating our commercial photography and video production from our personal lifestyle photography work. However, to many of you, we were simply known as the Stories team because of our lifestyle photography brand, Stories.my that grew to be a household name in the area of family, maternity and wedding photography.

After much deliberation, we have decided to consolidate and create a simpler brand experience for everyone. As of 2020, our corporate brand under Integricity Visuals is now known as Stories for Business. Our lifestyle photography work will still continue to exist as Stories Lifestyle.

Thank you for being part of our journey all these years!

 

5 business lessons as a creative entrepreneur

At the beginning of May this year, I felt that I needed to take a short personal sabbatical from running my business that has been in operations for 11 years now. I thought I could use the extra time to learn new skills, spend time with my kids, catch up with people but in reality, I realized that I could never really disconnect from my work.

In the middle of May, I attended the National Achievers Congress and that event made me think about how I have been running my business all these years. As a result of conversations with so many other friends, family and entrepreneurs, I’ve written down some of my reflections regarding business as a creative entrepreneur.

1. Self-employed vs Business owner

Even though I have staff working with me, my mindset has not moved beyond a solo self-employed entrepreneur to a business owner. A self-employed person would dabble in everything, from marketing to sales to operations… the list goes on. Basically, in Malaysia, we say, “one leg kick all”. According to this website, it has the definition of “Perhaps a direct translation of the Cantonese phrase, yat kiok tek, it describes a job or situation where one has to do everything, and not usually by choice.” If everything in your business depends on you, you’re self-employed. To me, this is a sure-fire way to be trapped for a long time. To transition to a business owner, I need to have scalability. Part of this involves automations.

Part of my dream would be to have financial freedom within the next 5-10 years so that I can be free to make choices about how I would like to spend my time daily. Over the years, I’ve automated some of my processes, so that’s great, but I need to be more intentional about thinking how to work with amazing individuals so that they can take the business to a different level. Which brings me to another point.

2. Get the right person on the bus

I heard about this principle through Cavemen, a group of amazingly talented business coaches who dress in crazy outfits and run life changing programs. The principle runs around the idea that you need the right people on your bus (the business) that are going in the right direction as you and on the right seats. Unfortunately, you also have to get the wrong people off. As I discovered, some people are extremely talented, but they are not doing the right job. Some people, over time, decide that their direction is no longer the same direction as yours, and that’s ok because people change and they move on. But the most challenging and difficult of it all would be to identify people who are wrong for the business and politely showing them the door (no kicking involved!). Get the right people doing the right job and the bus will move efficiently.

3. Communicate your ‘why’

So how do you get the right people on board? You need to communicate your why – why are you doing what you do? Why should this person join alongside you in this journey? Learning to communicate this why took me years to perfect. I only wrote my vision and mission statement last year (after 10 years of running my business). As I did more self-reflection, the why became clearer and clearer. But sometimes I fail to share my thought process with the team. So I am running this business and I think everyone is running behind me, but in reality, they might be clueless.

4. Stop being a perfectionist and too ‘creative’

Years ago, I couldn’t bear the thought of hiring a digital artist to edit my photos because nobody could do it as well as I could (or so I thought). In my mind, I had to control the entire creative process and my way was really the ‘best’. But my practical husband told me that I had to change this mindset. After I released control, I realized that other people can do a better job and that I now had time to do other things! (look at point number 1 above). Naturally, I had to think of ways to ensure quality is maintained through the years even with different people on the team. When I opened my mind, I found that other people’s ideas added so much value to the company.

5. Always learn. Always innovate.

10 years ago, I could count the number of female photographers in one hand. Things change. Instagram became popular. The students I taught in college when I was a freelance lecturer suddenly grew up and became my new competitors. I could choose to be bitter or choose to collaborate. I could choose to moan about the economic situation and how it affects my business badly, or choose to think of ways to innovate. One of my values in life is being hardworking. It probably came from my mum who sold did direct sales of Pyrex during the day and baked cookies in the wee hours of the morning so that she could earn enough for our future. But working hard needs to be coupled with working smart. Keep moving. Keep learning. Keep implementing fresh ideas.

It’s still a journey. There’s so much to learn. But journalling my lessons down this way helps keep me on track. Onwards, to a better and greater future!

The Stories Experience: Our Workflow

It’s our 11th year of operations and since the first day we opened our doors, we have refined our processes through the years. From the moment our clients connect with us, to thinking about the ease of transaction, online payments via credit cards… we only want the best for our clients! I also just recently counted, we have hit our mark of 100+ FIVE STAR reviews on Google and Facebook! It is really amazing and exciting to see that our clients love our work!

Please have a look at our video to see what we usually do for our clients, from the start till the end of your interaction with Stories.my.

Featured on Pillars, Malaysian SME publication

We’re pleased to be selected as one of the businesses to be featured in Pillars, the lifestyle arm of business newspaper Malaysia SME. Chi Yin is a dedicated, hardworking employee who has contributed so much to the company (Integricity Visuals) and our brand, Stories.my. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being such a crucial team member to us!

Check out more about Chi Yin and her work by viewing her profile here.