Entrepreneurial, Photography, Business-minded, Creatives – Just Do It!

I was talking to a friend recently about how I took lots of pictures at another friend’s wedding and put it up on a website for the couple, and the friend asked – “That’s such a sweet idea, Are you a budding photographer?”. Well, I replied “No, I just have a pretty good camera phone and the website bit only took a couple of hours anyways” – but that statement stir up memories which I thought I’d share before it completely deletes off my brain… in hopes of inspiring someone (just one person would do!).

“”Once upon a time, in the land of Leeds, I was a college kid in my first year and I had a business idea, the idea involved website, photography, wedding/events and creating jobs.

I was a Software Development student, so I went ahead to make a website that basically was like an online photography agency where clients can submit their need for a photographer, and I, having a team of semi-professional photographers (about 3 at the time) can send the photographers to the event – hence creating jobs for them (with the intention of expanding). I wasn’t a photographer myself.

The clients pay the website directly, while I paid the photographers. This was SO COOL – I was a boss at 17 (ofcourse this was in my own little world – not very many people even knew this was going on).

Here’s how the business worked;
The photographers would take pictures of an event (mostly weddings and birthdays), put the picture on the website (in a way that it tells a story). The client is given a special ID they use to access their pictures online… The advantage here is mainly to have an online copy of their special event photos, and as you can imagine, the unique ID can been sent to family and friends that couldn’t make it to the wedding or special event..
USP – Unique Selling Point
Although, this might sound basic, but our USP which was quite appreciated by the clients was the fact that, in the context of a wedding for example, photographers are trained to take only 60% of the typical wedding pictures you’d generally see in albums, the rest 40% were shots of things/scenes where/when the couple are mostly NOT present, or are busy paying attention to something else, just so that they can see what they missed even at their own wedding!! – This was sometimes controversial, but 90% of clients liked it.

Anyways… so that website/business lasted for exactly 7 months before DYING OFF for 4 main reasons (or at least what I thought were reasons).

  1. First Reason – Promoting the website well enough to get clients was very difficult without money! – The best we could do was word of mouth adverts (which actually goes a long way by the way) and some door-to-door leaflets on Saturdays (all printed with my pocket-money, or most of the profit from the previous client).
    However, Not much promotion meant few clients – certainly not enough clients to stop number 2 reason from being a “reason”…

    1. 4 years later, What could I have done differently?
      1. I certain could have been more open and confident about my approach to promotion.
        I could have sought advice and help, not just from my team of photographers but from anywhere the opportunity might arise. But I didn’t see any potential opportunity because I had my mind set on the statement – “I can only afford to do this, so I’ll do this” … I never asked “What if I try doing that?” – “Is that completely impossible to try?” – because to me, they were considered “Impossible” – THE END!
  2. Second Reason – Keeping loads and loads of high quality pictures on a web server and generally keeping a dynamic website running isn’t particularly cheap (not for me at the time anyway – I was in college).
    This issue by the way, is quite common. I don’t know the facts, and I might be very wrong here, but I wouldn’t be very surprised if Instagram was sold to Facebook partly because Facebook had the wealth/resources to handle something of that capacity for years and years to come – i.e maintaining and keeping millions of pictures and at a reasonable quality without going bankrupt.
    I didn’t have that kind of money and the images were getting much more than we could handle.

    1. 4 years later, What could I have done differently?
      1. Now I know the website could have been improved in ways where cost would have reduced (e.g. looking into how images could be rendered wisely to avoid web pages loading slow – instead I just assumed I had done my best and needed a bigger and hence more expensive server.)
      2. The images could have been optimised, to keep quality to some extent but reduce size.
      3. I could have asked for help from people that knew better at the time.
      4. It probably existed, but I wasn’t aware of services like gofundme and other online fund-raisers at the time, but I could have tried that.
      5. I could have used some business strategy that involved setting an expiry date for event images and hence automatically deleting them after some time… Or even better, offering to transfer the images into somewhere else if the client would prefer that (which meant releasing more space on the website’s server).
  3. Third Reason – I had the idea, I had the team, I had the website, I was having some clients, but had no business orientation to make it all work – e.g. balancing my profit/loss table – I had no profit/loss table! 😀 I knew exactly what I could charge clients that’ll be considered “fair”, and yet be able to pay the photographers, and even get some profit at the top, but I didn’t know what was appropriate to charge clients to not only just pay photographers, but to also keep the website running, and to keep the website getting promoted well whilst still making profit on it..
    1. 4 years later, What could I have done differently?
      1. Easier said than done, but I could have sort after some business advise from college teachers – Although I feel like I actually didn’t even realise I was deficient of the business knowledge at the time. I was just “going for it”. Plus I can imagine business advise that gets so technical at that time would have just flown right past my head! – I’ve had a few of those business advise on another project 2 years later, so I know what they can sound like.
      2. I could have sought help from peers that knew better! – I’ve learnt over the years that listening to peers can be both powerful and well, sometimes not-so-powerful, but one can always go a long way with the right people, right words of advise, and right perspective around.
  4. Fourth Reason – The emergence of cheaper “pretty good” cameras and amazingly good camera phones… It meant there were less demands for photographers in general which didn’t quite help with all the reasons above.. The business was dependent on more clients, not less!!!
    1. 4 years later, What could I have done differently?
      1. Start promoting to the world that those camera phones are simply evil!! – Just Kidding! Or am I not? We’ll never know! 😀
      2. I could have embraced the change, understand the effects of the change, and see if the business could still in one way or another progress with the change… instead of seeing the change as an impossible challenge.
      3. I could have revisited the vision behind the business and see what can be adjusted.

In general, it was a good experience, a real confidence booster at a young age, and it set me up well enough for taking on the next project a year later!

Here’s a general suggestion to MYSELF and anyone that chooses to take from it;
It might sound scary, risky & maybe even stupid, depends on where you stand, but one of these days, try saying “Challenge Accepted” to what you’ve never even thought you’d try, or what seems impossible or what you consider simply unnatural for you!, and don’t overthink it, just do it! – This is what demarcates ordinary people and people that ends up making a difference!””
– Ohh, and I love the statement in TV show “Friends” (Season 3, Episode 24 – “The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion”), when Monica questioned her billionaire boyfriend’s insistence on being the Ultimate Fighting Champion despite getting destroyed in the ring, and she got a reply – “Let me tell you a story, when I set out to create MOSS865 you think it just happened overnight? – No!, There was MOSS1 that burned down my Dad’s garage, there was MOSS2 that would only schedule appointments in January!, and 862 others that I learnt from… just like I learnt from this other fighter never to allow someone to stand on my neck!”
– Lastly, knowing God makes things far less complicated and sets you on the right track especially as an entrepreneur or a creative person (young or old) – next time you see a Christian, ask them what I mean by this!

We humans are incredible and extremely wise

I just think we humans are incredible and extremely wise.
Over time we’ve worked everything out including our origins….
– We have the cure to ALL illnesses because we have a perfect understanding of them.
– We know exactly how the sea stays in its boundary
– We have the key to peace inside and across the nations
– We fully understand the concept of conception, birth and death – we know exactly how they work. I mean, 9 months of pregnancy? ofcourse! It has to be 9. DUH
– We know where light comes from and where darkness go
– Snow? Rain? Lightning? – we know exactly where they came from.
– We can even direct the movement of the stars!! Ofcourse the earth should rotate and not stand still! DUH
– We understand why some animals are wild, strong and others weak… Chameleon changes colour – Ofcourse, that’s only fair! Birds fly, Dogs don’t.. Ants can be organised while humans can be disorganised! That all makes sense..
– We know exactly what we were before birth, and we know exactly what we would be after death.
– We know where all things (water, dust, etc) came from.

– We’ve also worked out the exact corner to place the God that actually does know all these things (which we have no clue about) and more!

– What most of us HAVEN’T worked out yet however is the ability to hear, feel, or sense the call of a father who simply wants to read his child a book…a book he wrote about the child before the child was even born…

Your Life Without Facebook or Twitter?

Ever wondered what not being on Facebook or Twitter was like or can be like? – Waking up, going about doing daily activities, and .. nothing like Facebook or Twitter in your life.
There’s a lot that has been said about this. Some people are completely addicted to Facebook and Twitter and they know it, and others actually feel the need to use Facebook for certain daily communication, and some others have a burning desire to know what is going on in all their 2500 friends’ lives (I totally respect that).
I see certain people send birthday greeting on my Facebook wall, and sometimes my first (or second) thought is, “Would he/she have remembered my birthday if I had no Facebook account?”.

So I came across an article titled “99 DAYS OF FREEDOM“. I found the article interesting because it challenges Facebook users to quit Facebook for 99 days in order to see how their life without Facebook affects their happiness (and to be fair, most of us would find it difficult to predict how staying away from Facebook for 99 days can affect our happiness – simply because we can’t even remember when we even signed up on these websites – hence can’t remember life-away-from-facebook).
According to the article, participants are asked to follow a three-step process:

  1. Change their profile photo with one that simply says “99 Days of Freedom”;
  2. Create and share a link to a personal countdown; and
  3. Don’t use Facebook for 99 days.

Doing this for 3 months would apparently free up about 28 hours of time which “could be devoted to more emotionally fulfilling activities – learning a new skill, performing volunteer work or spending time (offline) with friends and family.”

I personally don’t intend to do this at the moment, but I think it is something totally worth considering.

Read more about this here: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/get-99-days-freedom-quitting-facebook/#ixzz37H7HJ13w

Morning-after pills?

morning_after_pillA friend recently asked me, “You being a Christian, I kind of know what your believe is in regards to abortion, but, what do you think of morning-after pills? “. Soon after I gave him an answer, I came across an article on morning-after pills being made available to people of all ages  in America, that is, anyone can literally walk into a local pharmacy and pick one up. This ruling is although currently being appealed by the U.S. Justice Department.
For those who don’t know, morning-after pill (e.g “Plan-B”) can prevent fertilization or, if an egg has been fertilized, prevent it from embedding in the uterus. In English, it’s a birth control, but one that is taken after sex to prevent potential babies from coming into realisation.

I can’t help but think… How exactly would this not come across to people of ANY age as, “Unprotected sex is OK as long as you remember to take pills afterwards”. I was once talking to a girl of 18 and she made a statement that startled me, she said, “I’ve been with lots of different guys this week, but its OK, I use my pills”. This is slightly worrying in that she’s not the only girl of her age with that exact mindset.

Where exactly are the ethics and morality!? I wish more people would in actual fact remember that Sexually Transmitted Diseases isn’t a rumour and hopefully stop having that attitude of, “It’s there but won’t come near me!” … STD is real and tend to lead to really really bad situations! So why risk it!
You can read more about the ruling here.
Are you a young person, and need advise on related issues, click here

Listening to your peers helps… a lot!

Listening to your peers can get quite powerful, it can make you perform better in your field.
Many people would agree that one of the best way to learn at school, college or University is through group study. There is something about listening to your own peers in place of yet another teacher or lecturer.

It is therefore also very important to keep up with your peers, find out what’s going on generally, academically, etc in order to keep yourself updated. This might sound very basic and probably unnecessary, but its shocking how many people [with visions of being an entrepreneur for example]  miss out on opportunities to become partners in a very intelligent business idea/growth simply because they aren’t keeping themselves updated. Many would imagine that all of Mark Zuckerberg [of Facebook] ‘s mates when he started Facebook would currently have a desk in one of Facebook’s offices somewhere, but I seriously doubt that.

BE AN OPEN JUNCTION

I am amazed sometimes by people who want to be writers and yet seem to know little to nothing about even the more popular journals, who don’t read that actively, who don’t buy literary magazines hardly ever but send out their own work constantly, who don’t buy even their friends work, who etc,etc….Getting involved is being involved, and if you aren’t actively promoting others, I don’t know why in hell you’d think anyone would ever want to read or support you.” — author, Blake Butler.

Read more here

Deadlines can be made less stressful!

Harry Shearer once said “I am one of those people who thrive on deadlines, nothing brings on inspiration more readily than desperation“… Are you like this? Does desperation and urgency makes ideas flow in your mind like a stream, or are you like Canadian musician, Sarah McLachlan that said “Deadlines are meant to be broken. And I just keep breaking them.

Well, usually, there are some situation and circumstances (Projects submission or College/University assignments) where you simply can’t afford to break a deadline, and if you’re anything like me, the thought of deadlines getting closer messes with my head, could sometimes paralyze my thought-process and I’ll usually, once that happens, I’ll end up not meeting the deadline.  The fear and dread of the deadline kills off any chance of me getting any inspiration.

That said, I came to realize that the easiest way out is being hardworking and simply getting things done as soon as possible without any procrastination. That seems easier said than done as there are some periods where the thought of deadlines would still be considered stressful nonetheless.

I came across an article that talks about how deadlines can be made less stressful. The following are the key point from this article;

1) Make sure your deadlines are realistic

  • Get a more accurate read on how long similar tasks take
  • See if you can negotiate a later deadline
  • Think of each task or project as an unfamiliar one
  • Get more control by redefining deadlines as time allocations

2) Focus on how much time you have to work with
3) Work backwards

4) Troubleshoot your deadline issues

  • Are you aiming for more perfection than needed?
  • Are you working as efficiently as you can?
  • Are you procrastinating or getting distracted too often?
  • Do you just hate thinking about/dealing with time?

Read a breakdown of these points and learn how deadlines can be made less stressful here

Olympics Cameroon Boxers Spotted!!

Cameroon boxers who went missing from the Olympic Village after being beaten in their fights during Olympics were spotted training at South London gym.
I personally never really heard the news about their disappearance on-time due to busy personal schedule while the Olympics was going on, but hearing the news later on absolutely cracked me up — What were they thinking!? Where did they think they were!? Did they seriously hope they would NEVER be spotted anywhere in a developed country!? Who advised them!?

For those who didn’t exactly hear this story 3 weeks ago, The boxers disappeared from the Olympic village with a swimmer and a footballer after being beaten in their bouts during the Games.

After being gone into thin air for the past 3 weeks, they decided the smartest move was to reappeared at a South London gym for a sparring session. The disappearances are not the first time Cameroonian athletes have gone missing during international sports competitions.
Read more about their reappearance here

Chinese farmer builds replica £1m Lamborghini for just £6,000

£6000 LamborghiniIf there’s anything we appreciate about the Chinese, one of it is their ability to DESIGN! Here is a Chinese farmer that has always wanted to have his own Supercar — Lamborghini. It is worth saying there’s only around 21 models of  this car worldwide.

The car was made from scraps off old vehicles (“Old Bangers” is the technical phrase for that!). This car can still reach a top-speed of 160mph — that, i must say, is quality! which obviously wouldn’t be a very important feature in countries with very-restricted speed limit, but is still a bonus nonetheless!

Read more about this here

Uni makes Blacks healthier!

Its been researched.., actually, its been confirmed! — that the fact that lots of blacks rarely stop climbing the academic ladder until completion of higher education helps to lower their blood pressure! Yes, True story!… Is this some kind of reward for black’s (especially African-American) willingness to study hard? Well, depends on how you view it.

The main point here anyway is that, apart from other benefits that people gain from the fact that they attended college/University (Great Job, Increased Knowledge and Better standard of living.. to mention a few), new research suggests that there’s a healthful benefit as well.

This study/research — published in the August 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, examined data from nearly 3,700 white and African-American adults participating in the Family Blood Pressure Program Study and found that among African-American participants, each year of education was associated with a 0.51 mmHg drop in blood pressure.

Four years of additional education would result in a decrease of 2 mmHg systolic (the top number) blood pressure, lead author, Amy Non, predicted, a decrease that could contribute to a reduction in hypertension-related deaths.

What can I say — University Education isn’t just a necessity these days,  its also healthy!

Read more about this http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/higher-education-lower-blood-pressure-blacks-study_n_1663599.html

4D Cinema!… You’re In?

4D Cinema

Many must have heard of 4D Cinema at one point or the other. It is believed that a majority of those who hear about it consider its existence to be a rumor for one particular reason — Humans have 3D perception, and that’s all! Some people believe that humans are in 4Dimension when “time” is considered.

This is indeed true, but for those who dont know yet, what makes these cinemas 4D cimema is not that you’re be able to travel in spacetime while watching a movie, It’s just the fact that viewer’s other senses are put into play with seats that move and thump (gently punch you), smells from things like flowers or gunpowder, and artificial wind, rain and lightening. Yes, you’ll indeed smell curry IF there’s maybe a scene where Curried Chicken Salad is being prepared or served.

The Korean company, CJ 4DPlex, behind this brilliance plans to build America’s first 4-D screen multiplex in New York and if it is a success, they will expand into Europe. Cant wait to have that in the UK huh?

Just be warned;
– If you’ll be watching a movie that’s got too much rain [like…Jurassic Park or Spiderman] — Consider going to the cinema with extra dress and/or makeup.

Read more about 4D cinema – http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-4d-cinema-20120707,0,642655.story