Spirit of Enterprise ( SOE ) - Nominee 2008 - Nick Goh Photography
Spirit of Enterprise ( SOE )

 
The Spirit of Enterprise Award is an annual award that recognizes the entrepreneurial spirit in Singapore by honouring local self-reliant entrepreneurs operating small and medium businesses. This year, we are pleased to announce 144 Nominees from various industries, including the health, retail, hotel & entertainment, food & beverage, publishing, industrial, banking & finance, services, manufacturing, software, biotech, education, trading, shipping & transport, property & architecture, insurance and IT industries. You can view their stories at http://www.soe.org.sg/files/nominees2008.php.
 
From 144 nominees, 43 will be selected this year.  The 43 selected represent the cream of the crop of entrepreneurs who have shown resilience and tenacity in building up their respective businesses. An award dinner in October 2008, to be graced by Guest-of-Honor Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Minister in charge of Entrepreneurship and Chairman (ACE), will formally recognize the winning entrepreneurs.
 
They were interviewed by students from the following schools: National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Hwa Chong Institution, The Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) as well as Nanyang Polytechnic.
 
  Do join in the meaningful buzz by casting your vote at http://www.soe.org.sg/sg/voterregistration.php.
     Voting for the Awards this year begins July 2008 and ends August 2008.  
 
 
    Please feel free to contact Kelly Teoh at
kelly@soe.org.sg  if you need further information.

 

  Nominees 2008  
 

  Vote for your 2008 Nominees from
    1 July 2008 till 31 August 2008

 
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  Mr Nick Goh Nominee 2008  
 
 

Nick has a never-say-die attitude. Despite failing once, he always has a positive attitude and never gives up in pursuing his goals. Instead, he learns valuable lessons from it and became what he is today. He aims to do everything with excellence.

Company: NICK GOH PHOTOGRAPHY
Address: Blk 115a, Commonwealth Drive, #04-11
Website: http://www.nickgoh.com

Interview with Nick Goh
by Charmaine Lian on 06-May-2008. Student can be reached at charmlian@yahoo.com.sg
 
Business Profile:
Nick Goh Photography is one of Singapore's cream-of-the-crop wedding photography studios, offering pre-wedding ( bridal portraits), wedding day, ROM day photography and videography packages.With a track record in achieving the most consistent and satisfying results, they are top-notch producers in creating their signature story-telling photobooks (Journal Artwork Album) and the Wedding Day Photo Highlights - a well conceptualised wedding day presentation item that is popular with young couples. They are also the first Singapore Professional Wedding & Bridal Photo Studio to be awarded Licensee for the BUSINESSTRUST Global Reliability Program and the TrustSg seal as it adheres to the Code of Practice to promote good e-business practices.
 
Interviewer's Comments:
Nick has shared with me a lot of valuable business tips for me to learn from. He is very knowledgeable, insightful and clearly knows exactly what he wants to achieve in life. His never say die attitude has inspired me not to give up just because of one failure and I have learnt that it is through failure that we learn valuable lessons from it. A successful person is not one who never fails but is one who never quits.
 
1. What is the nature of your business?
My core business is doing wedding and bridal photography serving both local and international wedding couples.
 
2. When and why did you decide to become an entrepreneur / take over your family business? NOTE: If it is not a family business, ask: Do your parents have their own businesses too? Have they inspired you in one way or another? (Select appropriate question according to the entrepreneur being interviewed.)
It started off in 1992. Before I went into doing full-time photography, I owned a graphic design business. It was set up between the year 1992 to 1997 before the 1996 Asian crisis. During the 1996 Asian crisis, I have found out that it is no longer feasible to continue the business. I was still doing part-time photography, free-lance jobs at bridal shops and shooting for friends as it is my passion and it can also give me an extra source of income. I was doing part-time free lancing wedding photography from 1997 to 2001. In the year 2001,with my design background and in the early phase in digital photography, I forsee the opportunity arise whereby I can merge graphic design with wedding photography. Therefore, in 2002, I decided to set up a graphic photography studio as I can offer a unique product or service at that time in the wedding day market. My parents are not doing any business and in fact, they discourage us to venture into our own business, as there are many uncertainties and risk and no certainty of paycheck.
 
3. What are your reasons for choosing to do business in this particular industry?
The switch from Graphic Design and Productions ( Commercial & Businesses ) to Wedding and Bridal Photography ( Consumer ) is made because of the situation and opportunity arises in 1997. After the Asia Financial Crisis of 1996, we have suffered a lot of bad debts, and the dire straits situation, forces us to rethink and rework. I made a bold switch because I foresee that there will be good opportunity and potential of marrying good graphic design works with wedding and bridal photography service, as there are no one during that period of time, offer such wedding photo products and quality services.
 
4. How did you put together all the resources needed to start your business? For example: getting the start-up capital, hiring staff, doing sales and marketing, advertising, etc.
The start up capital is from my savings and the inventories from my graphic design business, before I started the present photo studio and wedding photography services . With relation to my past experiences and background in desktop publishing and graphic design business (1991-1997), it actually helps me in making the right decision now and it saves me a lot of bad investment mistakes and hiring decision. Today, we believe that internet online marketing and advertising is crucial for our survival and sustainability of our business, although a major part of business are still from direct referrals.
 
5. What are some interesting stories you have about your first few customers/first few years in business?
I remember one of my first customers is a very young bride-to-be, and she has brought her mum to listen to my presentation. At that point of time, there is no physical shop or office, so I did a presentation with them on my laptop at one of those fast-food restaurant. Everything went well, until when we have come to the signing of the contract and that they need to make a deposit. The mother of the bride, then asked for my identity card and took down my particulars for her assurance. This is the first time I have encountered such an incident, and I have considered this as a humbling experience for me ( as a wedding freelance photographer back then ).
 
6. What are some of the challenges you faced when you first went into business?
The transition from graphic design to wedding photography is not the difficult part but it is the marketing and promotion, strategic planning, trend and technology upkeep that is quite challenging. From 2004 onwards, as the digital photography was becoming more popular, more new players were seen in the wedding photography market ( meaning there were low entry barriers and more new entrants ). Although we face pricing pressures as buyers have more choices and alternative talents and service providers to choose from, but we were able to set ourselves apart by providing premium photo products and design works, and unmatched personalized and wedding consultant services, that are not offered by the general market place, or from the over-commercialized one-stop bridal shops.
 
7. How did you overcome these challenges? Please share some specific examples of the action you took to overcome the challenges.
We overcome it by being innovative to our approach. To maintain the lead, we must always come out with fresh ideas, hoping that the couples are able to appreciate it. We set ourselves apart from the other competitors in the area of creativity and by offering new services.
 
8. Can you remember your worst day in business or a time when you felt like giving up? What happened that made you feel that way and how did you triumph over it?
There are no days that I feel like giving up. For me, there is only moving forward not looking back. I remember during my freelance wedding days in the mid 90s, The worst day is when I was down with high fever, and I have missed out my client's ROM. I was caught in the rain the day before as I was doing an outdoor shooting. I have missed the solemnisation time, but I still turn up despite of being sick and was late for the event. I have grown and learn from it and make sure that it will not happen again, by putting certain preventive measures and practices.
 
9. Can you share some of the lessons you learnt from overcoming your own business challenges that you think will help other businesses?
I have learnt that you need to take care of yourself because by taking care of yourself, then you will be able to take care of your customers and not let people down. If it is in dangerous situation where you have a risk of getting injured or death but have a good photo opportunity, do not do it. You have the responsibility to the present and even future customers. Secondly, you need to be professional. You need to have a set of code of conduct and business ethics and principles for you and your clients to follow. In the case should anything happen in unforeseen circumstances, you and your client are protected against them.
 
10. When was the moment you realised the business would work and support you?
It is when we are able to clear all our bad debts and have sufficient cashflow in hand so that we are able to sustain in the market or industry. In the graphic design industry, we may not be able to see our money coming in over a span of 3 weeks to 3 months and we may not have enough cashflow in hand but in a wedding photography industry, we are able to receive our money over a span of 2 days to 2 weeks. This allows us to have a better cashflow in hand, and and enable us to project accurately future operation and profitability.
 
11. What are some of your proudest business achievements to date? And why are they so important and meaningful to you?
My proudest moment is when I receive letter of thanks from my clients on our services. It is a joy when I receive these letters and I will feel that it is a reaffirmation and recognition from my clients. My clients are my judges and referrals. It is not about winning top photo competitions or being recognized by a panel of photography judges and experts.
 
12. How do you differentiate your business from your competitors? Please provide specific examples.
The differences lies in our unique products, styles and services. Bridal and Wedding Photography is like an art, and this artistic pursuit and wedding service is something you cannot measure and it is very subjective. It is because of this unique craft, and personalized services that there are some people who are willing to pay a premium for it. I believe that all specialized photographers have their own styles and uniqueness to attract their own clients and market.
 
13. What are some business ideas you have implemented that created great results in your business?
One of the business ideas is the digital design wedding day album which created a hit in the industry, back in the 2002 . We were the first people who have created the idea of this wedding day album ( Photo Journal Artwork Alum ) and related products. The other successful innovative service offered in 2002, is the wedding day photo highlights presentation ( 5-hour turn-around ), and it is a popular item being followed and offered by many players in the market today.
 
14. Where or who do you get your business ideas from?
As I have been in the industry for some time, I get my business ideas by observing the trend in the marketplace. I will look at the existing products the market is offering and ask myself on whether I am able to come out with a better product of better quality or presentation, and also into inventing and experimenting new product lines and services.
 
15. What do you see for your business in the next 5 years, and does it include any plans for expansion?
We plan to focus in training and grooming more people and hope we can pass on our knowledge and experiences to them and hopefully they will take the lead. As for myself, I will be focusing in the area of wedding planning and consultation. With my hard-earned and valuable experiences in wedding day planning in the last 5 years, clients will benefit by tapping onto our detailed planning skills and handling expertise. There are no plans for expansion but more on related diversification. We may look for strategic partnership or collaborations with other existing local and overseas bridal and photo studios who share the same vision, and are looking for tied-ups.
 
16. What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
It means fulfilling your calling. You have to know your calling and work towards it. You must have leadership skills, have a vision, courage and plan to see it through. Most importantly, you must have a never say die attitude.
 
17. What are some entrepreneurship qualities that you have which has helped you come this far?
I have a vision, and an undying faith and potential about myself, and always turn adversity to opportunity. I always look out for difficult situation, and turn it around to work towards my advantage.
 
18. In your opinion, what other qualities does a person need in order to be successful in business? And why? (eg. Educational qualification, work experience, family influence, attitude, etc)
Basic education is very important and advance education is subjective. Family and friends influence and support and encouragement are very important. I believe that with the family influence, your route to success will be shortened as you will be provided with financial, guidance and advice to avoid any unnecessary costly mistakes. But having said that, for my side, I did not have my parents support, but it really depends on you. You need a lot of determination and faith. I work against parents wishes as I believe what I am doing is right, and I know exactly what I am going to do and what I want to achieve in life.
 
19. In your opinion, what does it mean to have the "spirit of enterprise"?
It means having a vision, courage and boldness to carry through and a never say die attitude.
 
20. Who or what motivates and inspires you?
The customers motivates me. Like I have said earlier, when my customers write me a thank you card or even a word of thanks would motivate and lift me. It acts as a form of recognition for me as they are my judge to decide whether I have done a good job.
 
21. What are some of your business values and what would you like to pass down to others, particularly the younger generation?
Do it from your heart. It is more than just passion. The work or service you provide will affect 3 areas: yourself, your customers and the industry. You need to love what you are doing because it can affect your customers as you are providing something they are delightful and satisfied with. You must love people (market) and enjoy serving them. In my case, besides having a passion in photography, you must love weddings and its preparation. The wedding and bridal industry is the highest level in service expectation, and I believe is a noble calling which few people will achieve, but it can be done and the result will be satisfying.
 
22. Can you share some of the more significant events / incidents that affected or shaped your business philosophy and the way you conduct your business? i.e. SARS, new competition or shifts in market behaviour and trends, etc.
We are innovative and will launch unique products and services with better value, quality and efficiency to handle new competition. We constantly try to analyse the market behavior and trends, and be flexible with our services and offerings, and make the right decision at the right time. We try to fulfill any areas the market is lacking and create new demands, instead of following what are popular and the market standard offerings.
 
23. With the changes in the market today, do you think it has become harder or easier to succeed in business? Why do you say so?
It depends. Singapore is a mature economy and all the sectors in the industries are covered. It depends on the number of players in the industry. It will be harder if there are more players in the industry. Likewise, it will be easier to succeed if there are lesser players in the industry. The opportunities sometimes come during the down times. Crisis is opportunity. It would be the best time for entrepreneurs to invest when the times are bad and when everybody is afraid to invest into any business.
 
24. What advice would you give young people who want to start their own business?
You have to understand your line of work. Be street smart. Be in an industry you are familiar with because the more you know about the industry equates to lesser risk involved. Join a company that is able to provide you with some experiences and exposures which can act as a stepping stone for u before starting your own business in the industry. You must love being in your industry. Plan well and have sufficient funds and savings. Most importantly, always think and aim to be the top in your industry. Do not just settle to be an average or another kids on the block. Aim to be the top.