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Transcript Episode 12

Transcript Episode 12: Becoming The Face of Your Brand With Mallika Malhotra

Transcript Episode 12

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Welcome to 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship Podcast, the show for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone, expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globetrotter, CFO, whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers, to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in.

Hello, hello. Welcome back to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski and I have Mallika Malhotra today on the podcast with me, and we are talking about the power of visual storytelling and becoming the face of your brand. We talk about how to get clear on your brand story and message, and Mallika really connects the dots between branding and sales. So when your branding is good and you’ve got that clarity and confidence and consistency around your brand, it is going to lead to an increase in sales. So we just had an awesome conversation and I’m so excited for you to meet her. So let me tell you a little bit about Mallika before we get into the episode. Mallika Malhotra of MikiFoto and Co is an award winning brand builder, professional photographer, business mentor, and author of The Brand Photography Playbook.

After years of working in corporate advertising, she now helps women entrepreneurs master their story, show up as the face of their business and create their brand empires. It’s her mission to empower women to stop hiding and to start emerging as leaders. She’s a strong believer in getting out of your comfort zone, taking action and implementing ideas. Her friends and clients call her the brand energizer. When she’s not taking pictures or building brands, she’s at home with her three sons and husband drinking coffee or red wine and dreaming about their next global adventure. And I’ll share a little bit more once we get into the conversation, but Mallika is also my brand photographer. We did an awesome photo shoot last year, and she was just incredible in helping pull my brand story out and then capturing it on film. So anyway, let’s dive right into the episode and talk to Mallika. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast and I am so excited to have Mallika Malhotra here with me today. Welcome Mallika.

Mallika Malhotra:

Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. So I always like to start all of our interviews with telling our guests how we know each other, and I found you on Instagram. I found you using Instagram hashtags.

Mallika Malhotra:

Yeah, so they work. Hashtags work.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

That’s what I say. I feel like I’ve found and hired several people using hashtags on Instagram. I was coming up to Maine for vacation with my family and I couldn’t find a brand photographer here locally, and so I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to see what I can find and then hashtag Maine brand photographer,” I think. And that’s how I found you. I think you had just moved to Maine, right?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yes. And the funny story is that I was using that hashtag probably four months before I moved to Maine, because I wanted to flood the feed with my work, so that if anyone started looking that they would see me and people are getting to know my brand. So it’s so funny that not being intentional using a hashtag strategy that actually can work for your business.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. I love that. That is such a good strategy instead of waiting till you were there and got settled, I like how you stacked the hashtag before you got there. That’s awesome. Okay. So tell us a little bit about your business and the journey that took you to get where you are right now?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yes. So thank you for the opportunity. [inaudible 00:03:53] this is MikiFoto and Co, and I’ve actually been in business for 13 years, which is hard to believe. I’m just celebrating my 13 years as a photographer. And I started back in 2008 as a children’s photographer when I was living in California. And at that time I had two sons. My youngest son wasn’t born until much later, but they were young and we were living in California and our family was on the east coast. They were in New York and New Jersey and it used to break my heart that they didn’t know the story of my kids. And so digital cameras were stood up and shot at the time.

And we had one and I started capturing the story of my sons so that I could share it. Facebook was also kind of new at that time and I can share the images with my relatives and I wanted to really tell their story deeper than just a snapshot. I wanted it to show how they laughed and what their passions were and what their connection was like, and all of a sudden I found this lifelines, creative lifeline as a young mom, right? In this new place, had put my own career on the back burners and my husband’s work.

And now I have this creative outlet and it just opened up a whole new world for me. And I was able to take my books from the library and use the camera and bring it with me wherever we went, because I had these two adorable models and so I just had shooting and shooting and shooting. And the next thing you knew, I was the kindergartner photographer and I was doing holiday portraits of the neighbors, when I had this small little business that was my own. Fast-forward to 2015, after doing portraits of kids and families, it was a whole other bunch of things like head shots and senior portraits and tween portraits. I was doing everything. I knew I needed to make a decision or honing in on one thing. And my kids at the time were older then. So I wasn’t as inspired to be running after other people’s young kids.

And I have a background in advertising and marketing, and I was just getting that itch to return to more business type of strategy. And I was networking a lot with women entrepreneurs. And so I decided in 2015 to commit to head shots and brand photography and cut everything else out, even though people thought I was crazy, and just hone in on that, because at that time online marketing was starting to get bigger than just a website. There was blogging and social media and newsletters. And I saw that there was an opportunity for me to grow this business and also really start charging higher prices because people could see that return on investment, through photography that grew their business. So 2015, I just decided to become a brand photographer.

And then after three years of really doing that and becoming a leader in that space, writing a book about that, I then started adding strategic services to my portfolio, where I was helping people with their brand strategy and their messaging because I knew with my photography clients, the best images were grounded in strategy. I had to know what the vision, the mission, the values of that entrepreneurial was to really be able to deliver images that had emotional connection and impact. So now 2021 I do photography, although it’s been a little bit hard with COVID and I spend most of my time mentoring on brand strategy and messaging for women entrepreneurs.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. I love that your journey went from creative outlet and fulfilling just a personal need that you have all the way through the process of niching down and to where you are right now. Was it scary for you… Like you said, everybody said I was crazy, but was it scary for you to be like, “Okay, I’m putting aside everything else, and I’m just focusing on branding photography?”

Mallika Malhotra:

It was scary because people were still coming to me saying, “I want to buy your holiday portrait session.” Or, “Why don’t you do a vision boarding workshop?” I know three people who want to come and I was just… You’re spread too thin when you’re doing all the things, right? And this is what I teach and preach, you cannot sustain being a jack of all trades and people are not going to know you for your mastery, your excellence, if you’re doing all of the things. And so when I decided to cut things out that weren’t matching up any more with my passion or what my skill set was sort of evolving to be, then I knew I could put all my eggs in this one basket of brand photography, and my messaging was only about that.

I knew who my ideal client was. I wasn’t speaking to like 10,000 people. I knew exactly who this woman was. And it just helped really hone in my energy as well as my productivity, as well as my messaging. And that’s how my business really exploded, is when I narrowed down my focus and I didn’t feel so all over the place and scattered.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah, oh my gosh. That’s so good, and I just know personally, when I have looked for photographers, either to photograph my newborns or photograph my family, or even for the business, often you go to photographers websites and there’ll be like a little tab at the top for families, weddings, newborns, branding. And I’m like, “Wait a second. So which one are you really doing [crosstalk 00:09:14]?” And I feel like I don’t see many photographers that are really just focused on branding specifically.

Mallika Malhotra:

Well, I think if you specialize and position yourself as a specialist, you immediately build trust with your audience, right? They’re going to see you in a expert leadership position versus having this portfolio, that’s like pick your own adventure. A business person doesn’t want to see a newborn gallery. They just don’t. And it could be hurting your brand if you are doing all the things. When you can focus on one thing, become the master of that, not only will you get known as an expert and you can charge higher prices as well. So it’s like a great place to try to be for your business and brand.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. I love that. And I think that the experience you provide as a branding photographer was so strategic and I loved it. I personally went through your process and you gave me like, there’s a very, very lengthy, thorough intake form where you had me explain who my ideal client was and what are words and feelings associated with my brand. And I was like, “I just want my pictures taken.” But that led to such a good session, and you helped me really think about what is the feeling that I want to get out of these photographs and communicate to people. And I really had never thought about it in that way before. I mean, is that sort of a process that you developed over time as you really specialized in branding?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yes, absolutely. I think probably my first shoots are more off the cuff. Just taking pictures, making sure everybody looks pretty and telling some story, but it wasn’t intentional or strategic to grow the business. Over time I learned that I had to ask more questions. Like I need to know what are you launching because you might need a photo that has to go along with the launch of your membership.

What are the names of the products and services that you have, and can we tell a story to go along with that so you have more power to that content when you share it online? And where do you see your business in three years, or five years? It’s not just about today. I think there is a misconception with brand photography where sometimes it’s like a glorified headshot, but indeed it’s more than that because these are images that are meant to grow your business, meant to bring in customers, attract your right client and put more money in your bank, right? So we have to be strategic. Know what your business is, what the problem you solve, who you’re speaking to, because it’s not vanity pretty images. Although we do want them to look pretty, but that’s one dimensional. These are images that are meant to attract that right client through storytelling. And that’s where the strategy really comes into play.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. I love that. And is that something that you go into it in your book?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yes. So I go into the book… I think planning for a grand photo shoot is overwhelming. There are so many movie pieces… As you can remember, right? From the styling to the props to if you have guests or people that are going to act as your clients, to just like the different locations, and then the changing and then the hair and the make up, so the book I wrote, The Brand Photography Playbook, so to helps you understand from just having the idea of hiring a brand photographer what you should be considering when you’re hiring your brand photographer, the questions to be asking, and then the stories that you should be thinking about that you want the brand photographer to deliver, and then talking to them about the vision of your brand, like really what you’re using these images for.

So there’s a lot of different pieces and I just felt like people needed to think more strategically and have examples and have a bank of questions to ask, because it’s an investment and you don’t want to get burned and hire the wrong person and not get the deliverable that you wanted. And I’ve seen how the images can really accelerate your business as soon as you have them. So I just wanted people to know the facts and have some ideas that they were more empowered and more informed. And also just to help manage some of that anxiety that does come when you’re in front of the lens.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. That was super helpful for me. And I know you and I had a couple of calls beforehand and you were like, “What about this prop, and that prop?” And I was like, “I literally would not have even thought about that.” And you helped me figure out what are my two or three main stories that I’m telling? And I remember one of them was like… I just remember this because you did take some shots of my family as well, one is like the mom boss and I have some great photos. I actually just posted a photo of this week that you took on Instagram. I posted a photo of me and my girls talking about balancing work and also celebrating upcoming holiday Valentine’s Day with my girls. And so I probably would not have thought about telling that story if not for, I think you shared with me your book. And so I was able to read that before our shoot and it was so helpful. Do you have a couple of tips that you give to the women entrepreneurs that you coach or that you work with? What are your top tips for entrepreneurs to build their brand and tell their story in a strategic way?

Mallika Malhotra:

Well, I think you really need to take the time to ask yourself these strategic questions of like, what do you stand for, really? This is going to be the point of difference between you and the other person in your market that looks like you. What are the values and the vision and the purpose that you have for this business? Those are the things that will inspire people to want to work with you. And I think sometimes especially in the beginning, [inaudible 00:15:03] products and services on our website, we make sure everything looks pretty, and in our brand colors, but the depth and the soul of the brand sometimes isn’t worked on. And again, that is like, what do you stand for? What are you putting the stake in the ground for?

And then really understanding who are you meant to serve? And that goes back to, you’re not meant to serve everybody. There’s a specific niche of person that you are best able to serve. So doing that work. Sometimes in the beginning you don’t know. And so it’s okay to have that volume strategy of getting a lot of people in, but don’t maintain that. You have to look at that roster of clients and do the work to see like, which ones are good clients? Which ones pay me on time? Which ones have the biggest impact and the most transformation? And actually find the common thread and then hone in on that. And that is strategic goals for you so that you can then tailor your message to that particular person. The other is to understand how you’re different.

It is very easy to look like everybody else, especially with social media, it’s just, you get inspired by someone else, and then maybe you throw that into your own brand, but really looking at everything from your process to your products and services, the customer experience, what can you pull out that’s really going to set you apart? And can you use that in your messaging so that you rise above the noise as that go-to person?

And then the last is like, think about really how you make your clients feel at the end of the day, that transformation, because that is so important to help you build a foundation for your brand. It’s not just the features and the functions, because that is very much the same with everybody else in our market, let’s be honest, right? It’s how do we make our clients feel that emotional connection that we want to cultivate and nurture, because then they’re going to become the raving fans and the ambassadors to our brand as the heart of our brand, [inaudible 00:17:04] entrepreneurs and talk about us and refer people to us. So those are the four things I would say again, it’s know what you stand for, who are you meant to serve, how are you different, and what is the transformation that you’re offering to your clients?

Stephanie Skryzowski:

I love that. Especially thinking about how are you different, I feel like, like you said with social media, we’re all trying to like fit into the same box as everyone else. We’re all following somebody else’s formula and trying to do exactly what they’re doing. And I have fallen into that myself. I’m like, “Oh, it works for them. Okay, let me follow their 10 step checklist. I’m going to have the business that they have.” It doesn’t work like that. And I feel like I keep learning that lesson myself over and over again, like I just need to do what works for me. Stay in my lane. And I think that, yeah, and so sort of understanding what sets me apart from everybody else and not having to fit into a box or a formula of someone else is so important. And I guess as a numbers person, I don’t really even think of that as part of branding. But it really is.

Mallika Malhotra:

It definitely is. I mean, because you have to first assess who you are, what your skills are, your passions, like really understand what makes you as a person different. And then you have to go to your audience, your networking, ask them, why did you choose me over somebody else? What was I able to do for you that you didn’t think someone else would? And that is intel, right? That’s bold. And then you find that that overlap of whatever it is that is really setting you apart, and then you want to just really focus on that, but it takes work, right?

It’s research testing, it’s validating, it’s self reflection and auditing. And sometimes we’re just running by the seat of our pants and we don’t do this, but over time, your brands and your business aren’t sustainable because you are not giving it the depth and the distinction that it deserves.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah, I’m thinking a lot of times I feel like we all just move so fast, we want to just do the thing that we need to do so we slept some colors in some pretty pictures up there without the strategy piece. But I would imagine that if we put the energy upfront into the strategy and figuring out who our right person is and how we’re talking to them and what sets ourselves apart and what makes us different, I would imagine that sales would be a lot easier because people would land on our website or see our stuff on social media, and it would be such a true version of who we are to the core that when somebody would get on a sales call or something with us, it’d be such an easy yes, because we would already have done a lot of that deep work beforehand rather than just throwing a bunch of pictures up that look nice. Do you see that with like the women that you mentor, have you found that that’s the case when you do the time-consuming sometimes more challenging branding work than it just makes sales easier?

Mallika Malhotra:

Absolutely. Because there’s clarity, right? Once you get the clarity around your message, around what your super power is, then you feel more confident. So it’s like I say, it’s clarity that leads to the confidence, and then the confidence allows you to show up in the world and share that content, share your message over and over. And if you’re consistent, I mean, consistency is key here where, when you know those things about your brand, you’re constantly sharing that over and over again. And you’re not going outside of your lane and talking about all of the things and chasing bright, shiny objects, you are committing to what you do best and who you best serve. Then I see a lot of growth for these brands. But it’s that clarity that leads to the confidence, and then once you’re consistent, then I think you start getting those clients.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

I love that so much especially the piece about consistent messaging, because I know I often find myself like, “Oh my God, didn’t I just talk about this on Instagram or in an email like a month ago? I feel I’m saying the same things over and over again, but in a way I am, and I guess I should.” That’s the consistent messaging that you’re talking about, that people know exactly what to come to me for. I’m not talking about finance one day and creating a forecast and then a new recipe the other day, and then an activity I do with my girls the day after that. I like that consistent messaging. So even if it does feel like you’re repeating yourself over and over again, that’s actually a good thing.

Mallika Malhotra:

Because that’s your brand, right?

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah.

Mallika Malhotra:

A brand is something, it’s your reputation. This is something that people, it’s the impression you’re making in their minds. And so if you’re talking about certain buckets of content over and over again, that is a good thing. Of course, you can sprinkle in a story of your girls because that’s going to humanize your brand, right? And that’s a connecting point, but like you’re not going to talk about visual storytelling unless it’s relating to this experience that we had together to boost your brand.

There are certain lanes that you need to stick to and you can re… Re-purposing is a beautiful thing. Re-purposing the content over and over again, because then you’re just building this memorable place in your customer or your audience’s mind of who you are and what you’re an expert in. So don’t be afraid of just saying the same thing over and over again. I mean, I feel like that too I’m like, “Do I want to talk about visual storytelling again?” Yes. Because that’s what I’m known for. So I’m just going to continue.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah, I love that. And I feel it’s just so helpful because often it feels like, “Oh my gosh, people have heard this 50 times for me before.” But at the end of the day you never know what the right moment is for them to hear that particular message in that particular way. So I think that’s great to remain consistent.

And I will say going back to the sales thing and making it an easy yes for people and how the branding and all of that is related, I will say that, so we re-did our branding in early 2020, got a whole new logo, a whole new website, and then when I met with you in August of 2020, all new photos that actually really truly told our story, and we’re not like a mishmash of photos from random things over the past five years, I’ve gotten so many messages from people that I… Potential clients I meet with that were like, “Oh my gosh, your website and the photography tells your story so well.” And honestly, I need to do the math on this. I’ve been working on it. But I think our conversion rate from sales calls to clients has probably increased since we’ve done that. It feels like it has, I just need to crunch the numbers, but it’s amazing. And some people think that that doesn’t really matter in terms of conversions and money and sales, but I really think it does. I need to crunch the numbers. I’ll come back on that one.

Mallika Malhotra:

I think once you have professional brand photography, you really are showing up as the leader, right? As an expert. People can take you seriously. You don’t look like a newbie or a hobbyist. You’re actually telling your audience, “I’m investing in myself so that you can invest in me.” Right? And I think that’s an important story because when people are shopping around for a financial planner or a photographer or brand strategies for an interior designer, they’re looking at their website and they’re looking at the photos that are there. And if you’re showing up with a selfie, that’s going to tell a story that maybe you’re not a professional, maybe you’re not an expert, but if you have consistent imagery that is taken by a professional photographer, and you’re using that not only on your website, but on your Instagram and in your newsletter, that cohesive brand look is going to help differentiate you and position you as the leader.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

You hear me talk all the time about how important it is to know your numbers as a business owner, but you may be thinking, well, how in the world do I do that? Where do I even begin? So I have a free resource for you. The Profit Playbook is an amazing template that you spend about 15 minutes getting it all set up, and you can literally see into the future of your business; Revenue, expenses, cashflow just like a crystal ball. It is a huge resource that will absolutely help you create a roadmap to reach your goals in your business. It is for free over at 100degreesconsulting.com/profit.

Yes. And I love that. And I think there’s a difference between being professional and being stuffy, or not authentic because I think maybe a lot of people might use more casual photos or selfie or whatever, just to sort of maintain that like, “I’m genuine, I’m real, and this is just me.” But I will say you can 100% be professional yet still be really fun. And I just think about our photo shoot and our brainstorming sessions before where you’re like, “Oh, could you get some like big gold balloons or numbers or dollar signs or something?” And I’m thinking to myself, “Really?” Like confetti, you had all these such fun ideas. And I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to go with it because who knows how they’re going to come out.” And I love those photos. The photo where I’m throwing confetti up in the air and just having fun, I was like, never would have thought that as a CFO and somebody who works with numbers and this professional level, that that photo would work. We use that photo all the time and I love it. So you can absolutely infuse fun and energy and youthfulness or whatever you want while still being very professional in your photography.

Mallika Malhotra:

Absolutely. I mean, I think it’s the importance of brand personalities what we’re talking about is actually infusing that playfulness or part of your personality to humanize the brand. If you’re a finance or an accounting or a lawyer, it doesn’t have to feel so one dimensional. You can put fun and play in it so that people can connect with you on a different level. And I think it energizes your brand.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Exactly. I love that. So right now, so you do brand photography as one part of your business, actually taking the photos. Do you also have a membership or do you mentor other female entrepreneurs? Tell us about that.

Mallika Malhotra:

Yes. So I have a membership called The Brand Attraction Society. I launched it in January of 2020. And thank God I did. Because of the pandemic obviously the brand photography went to the back side and that was hard, I’ll have to say. I had about eight photo shoots planned in New Jersey before I moved to Maine. And they all had to be canceled completely and refunded because I had already taken money and that hurt my business financially. And it just hurt my heart. The membership was something that thankfully I hadn’t started. So it allowed me to work with women in an online capacity. So it’s a membership dedicated to branding. And we do a lot of group calls. We have a very vibrating, engaged Facebook community, and I do monthly themes called brand boosts where I teach a different aspect of branding so that they can continue to learn and implement some of these tools strategically.

I also launched last year and just launched again this year, a mastermind called [inaudible 00:28:09] where it’s six women and it’s a smaller container for four months, and it’s really so that they get more attention from me. We can actually work deeper in their businesses and in their branding. And we actually have our first call today, which I’m very excited about. So those are some things that I have. I do have courses like DIY courses as well, eCourses, one’s called the Brand Confidential Blueprint, which is 21 Steps to Discovering Your Brand Brilliance.

Because I found that sometimes people aren’t ready for the long-term of a membership, right? Because it’s month after month or they’re not ready for the premium mastermind or the photography. And so there were so many people who I wasn’t serving. So I created that product low price, $97 product, to really helped people get started in building the brand foundation. So I just did that last year as well. So 2020 was a lot of creating and building new things to help me with that sticky customer journey that people can come to me at different phases and then stay with me hopefully over time.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. Oh, I love that. That’s such a good way for them to like, “Okay, let’s get a little taste of what Mallika does and then, okay, now I’m ready to dive into the membership and all right, now I’m ready for that high level, more of a coaching mastermind type situation.” I love that. What are some of the challenges that you’re helping women overcome in your programs? Are there ways that you’re helping them push through their comfort zone and maybe make themselves more visible?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yeah. So we worry about a lot of different things from messaging that might sound very generic. Like I’m a life coach and it’s very service oriented and really trying to get them to niche down to, I’m a life coach that works with women that are over 40 and during empty nest stage of their life. So really looking again at what am I good at? What can I leverage [inaudible 00:30:09] my skills and my past experience? Who can I serve the best and really be specific and specialized so that I can then create a program or a product that’s best able to get them results. So we work on messaging and niching. We work on products and programs, pricing. We work on launching, how to launch, how to market, how to get press. What’s a signature talk that they should be working on that’s an alignment to their brand so that everything sort of fits like a puzzle for their brand?

And that’s what’s good about a membership because everybody’s in a different phase, right? Things happen in business, especially in this past year, you’re pivoting, and so the membership from a month to month allows you to have a space, to get real time help on your journey, whatever your journey is in branding. And it’s dynamic. That’s what I love about it. It’s not everybody has the same problem and it’s not a one size fits all. It’s looking at what you’re challenged with, what your consumer wants, what their problem is and trying to deliver the best service or product for them. But there are elements of branding that are consistent. So like, even though everybody’s in a different phase, I have a toolkit of things that I can say, “Okay, check out this, I think your mission has not yet been solid or at the point where you should be sharing that you’re a little bit all over the place. But if you revisit this lesson on your mission, that will help you with that GPS to keep you on track.” Right?

Or positioning, we’re working on right now, you want to position yourself in a way that you are the choice for your customer. So what are the strategic questions you should be asking yourself? What does the market look like? Where are the gaps? What is your competition thing? Again, these are things that people don’t really have the time to do when they don’t know what the questions to ask. So I’m giving them the questions and then they’re doing the work and then they’re revising, tweaking, improving their messaging and their brand [inaudible 00:32:08].

Stephanie Skryzowski:

I love that. And sometimes you do need that external person to ask you the tough questions that you don’t ask yourself, that you can’t ask yourself, that you don’t know to ask yourself, so I love that. And in your business, do you have a mentor or an advisor or a coach or somebody that does that for you as well?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yes. I totally love to invest in myself so that I can be better for my people. I just finished the Mastermind with Cailen Ascher, is probably Uplifted Mastermind and she’s great. That was a great experience. She actually really helped me with this sticky customer journey, how to appeal to different people at different phases of their business. So that’s why I created that brand confidential blueprint under her coaching. Right now, it’s funny, I’ve been feeling like that itch again, right? Because once you get mentorship and coaching, you know your business is growing and you’re growing personally and professionally, and now I’m sort of been on my own for a couple of months and I’m like, “Ah, I need to invest again and think about what I want to do next.” I’m in the process of exploring that right now.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Oh my gosh. I know. I feel I’m between coaches as well. And I know I need somebody and I know that when that right person crosses my path, I’ll know it, but it’s such a hard thing to go out and look for. It’s like you can’t just Google business coach, and then you’ll you grab somebody from there. I feel like they just need to cross your path in the right way, and then you’ll know that that’s right.

Mallika Malhotra:

I think especially for you, you’ve been in business for a long time and I’ve been in business for 13 years, and so you do become a little bit more selective and not everybody’s the right coach. It’s like we have so much a wealth of an experience and we coach people too. But I do think it’s nice to sometimes take a break and just breathe and just implement some of the tools. I used to bounce one to the next to the next. Now I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older to just have those windows of time where you take a pause and you reflect and you implement, and then that next season to get a mentor will come and you’ll feel… I’ll know in my gut when that is the right one.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. I love that. I’m totally with you on that. Awesome. So I like to ask all of my guests this question, because I’m a CFO, I love to hear about how other entrepreneurs manage their numbers. What is your process to manage your numbers in your business? Are there any special tools or different things that you work with and use?

Mallika Malhotra:

So I actually have hired a bookkeeper probably four years ago, and that was the best thing I’ve ever done with my business. It’s been so, so helpful. But even though she does know all the QuickBooks and stuff, I have always had my own little spreadsheet so that I can see what money is coming in and what product or service is generating the most income as well as what is really going out, what am I spending money on? [inaudible 00:35:09] the big things like every book I buy on Amazon. The VA I hired or who’s on my team. So I do that. I also just check my banking. I’m obsessed with checking my banking multiple times a week because I just feel like the more I look at the numbers and understand them just in the banking sphere, it just helps me feel I know where my money’s going. I probably could be better with meeting PNLs and all that. That’s a little bit outside of my comfort zone.

I do look at them at the end of the year, the tax year, when I get all those documents, I do look at them. And I look at where we were last year. This year it’s tough to look at those numbers just because brand photography was always a big revenue generator, and I just didn’t do any shit because of COVID and because of moving. But the good thing is, is that I’m seeing the revenue that’s being generated in other programs like the Brand Attraction Society, and that just reinforces that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Is a smart business model to have multiple streams of income because you can have a pandemic or something happened to my hands or my eyes, or something, right? And so I’ve always known that and I’ve been doing some online types of services, but now I really feel maybe brand photography, even though that’s where I started, really be maybe 30% of my business and 70% should be in some of these online programs for sustainability [inaudible 00:36:37]. So when I look at my numbers I’m able to think of those things and come up with strategies like that for my business.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

I love that. I especially love that you’re looking at the revenue per which different pieces of your business. So you really know like what’s the most profitable versus what’s not. And I especially love that you check your bank balance multiple times a week. That’s something that we teach our clients and in our membership like “You need to look at your bank balance, don’t avoid it.” And I always look at after our photography session together, you sent me this beautiful calligraphy on acrylic, and it says where your attention goes, energy flows. And I love that saying, and if we’re giving our attention to our money, like energy is flowing there. And I think that’s what we all want. So I love it. I have just a couple quick questions to wrap us up today that I ask all of our guests. And the first one is, what is your favorite productivity hack in your business or your life, maybe a tool or just something that you do to help you be more productive?

Mallika Malhotra:

So I just started using ClickUp. Have you heard of ClickUp?

Stephanie Skryzowski:

I have heard such good things about ClickUp. Yeah, I’ve not used it.

Mallika Malhotra:

This year I’ve hired a tech VA to help me with some of the backend stuff, which has also been such a great game changer. And she introduced me to ClickUp, which is kind of Trello meets Slack together.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Hmm.

Mallika Malhotra:

And it’s been a wonderful tool to help manage projects, have a chat that goes along with each project. So you can have this back and forth like that Slack offers, but then have a overview of what she’s working on, what I need to give her and deadlines and timing. Now I know what she doing so I don’t feel I’m micromanaging, which is the worst feeling, like she’s doing it. She’s not doing it, now I can see what she’s doing at what the timeline is. I can comment on it so I can see through a chat what’s going on. And that has given me a lot of relief of stress and just knowing that things are getting done in the way they should. So I would definitely encourage people to look up ClickUp, because I was new to that. And that’s really been a nice tool to use in my business.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. We just implemented Asana in the last year or so, and that has also been such a game changer for me because instead of then keeping everything in my head, it’s all in a place that’s not my head. So then we’ve got a little bit more brain space to be creative and get work done and whatever. So I love that. Okay. So my second question is what is a favorite book that you have read? And I know that you are a huge reader, so I’m sure you have thousands that you could think of. Let’s narrow it down. Let’s do a favorite business book.

Mallika Malhotra:

Okay. So favorite business book I mean, I just read this for the fourth time this year is The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz who profit first from the financial world. But I feel like The Pumpkin Plan is such a great book if you’re new, if you’re seasoned, if you’re emerging, it doesn’t matter what phase of entrepreneurship. Because it’s all about honing in on that one thing, that one program, that one type of client that’s helping you create the big fat pumpkin and cutting out, meeting out all the other bad clients, bad offers that are just taking your time and energy away. That’s a great reminder of really focusing in on what is working well in your business. And so if anyone hasn’t read it, I highly recommend reading it. If you’ve already read it, pick it up again and read it again because that’s what I just did. That’s one of my favorite books.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yeah. I love that. I have that one as well, and I’ve read it a couple of times too. And it is so good. And I love that you’ve read it four times because you can definitely keep going back to it and making sure that your business is still moving in the right direction. And yeah, I love that. Okay. So the last one is, imagine that you had a weekday completely free from any work, any obligations, responsibilities, what do you do?

Mallika Malhotra:

Oh my gosh. I’m by myself?

Stephanie Skryzowski:

It’s up to you. Yes. I feel like everyone I’ve talked to who has kids and animals and families, they’re like, “Yeah, I’m by myself.” So it’s up to you.

Mallika Malhotra:

I would love to hop on a plane and get to the closest beach with warm weather, sit with my books and a cocktail and just pause, feel that warm sun, listen to that water rippling, feel the sand between my toes, then eat an amazing, yummy, yummy meal. Maybe have a spa day after manny-petty massage facial, and then just relax and just have some time to breathe on my own. And not even… Sometimes I do have time on my own, but I’m always thinking about business, but I won’t want to think about anything. Just have that self care, just to take care of myself and do things that feel such a luxury. And that’s what I would do.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Ooh, I love that. I’m dreaming with you. We’re recording this in February and it’s cold and gray outside.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Yes. Oh my gosh, I’m with you. That sounds an absolutely perfect today. Before we wrap up, are there any resources or anything you would like to share with our listeners?

Mallika Malhotra:

Yeah, so I would love to share, I have a free eGuide called The Brand Visibility Booster, which I think is a great tool to help your audience understand how is it to be the face of your brand. In this tool I identify the six images every entrepreneur needs, and with examples as well as a lookbook. So real women, real clients of mine that you’ll see a snapshot of their brand photo galleries. And I’m hoping it will inspire them just to become more visible to put themselves out there, but then with ideas that maybe when they hire a brand photographer, they can implement some of these themes and ideas into their brand photo shoot.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Ooh, I love that. Okay. So we have the link that I will definitely drop into the show notes as well. That sounds so good. The six photos that you definitely need for your brand, that’s huge. So everybody go and check that out please. And Mallika, thank you so much for joining me today. This was super enlightening for me, and I just had a great experience back in August doing the photography with you, and so glad you were able to chat with me today. So thank you.

Mallika Malhotra:

Thank you so much. It’s been so much fun. Thanks so much.

Stephanie Skryzowski:

Thanks for listening to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship Podcast. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100degreesconsulting.com/podcast. Make sure to snap a screenshot on your phone of this episode and tag me on Instagram at Stephanie.skry, and I’ll be sure to share. Thanks for being here, friends, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcript 12

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