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The Worst Advice Ever – Headshot Photography Studio located in Leesburg, VA


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When I moved here from Georgia, the first thing I wanted to get was a studio space.  It was so exciting and exhilarating to think that I’d finally be able to establish my own studio.  I saw the space and was in the process of getting paperwork to lease it when I had to make a run to the local camera store to pick up a few things.

A highly respected photographer was working there at the time.

I excitedly told him my plans with the studio.  He looked into my eyes and told me, that as someone who cares about me and who has seen the industry in this area, not to do it.  I was crushed.  Heartbroken.

He said that a physical space is not a good idea in Northern Virginia.  He told me that it would make me go out of business.

Thankfully, I decided not to listen to him.  Even though it was hard ignoring someone I thought had my best interests at heart, I had to follow my own instincts. 

The business world is full of advice.  This blog is me giving advice!  You can get advice on LinkedIn, Facebook, websites, and other blogs.  You can pay a business coach to guide you.  You can get it for free at the local coffee shop.  It’s everywhere.

The problem is, it’s not all good.  Those “friends” that say they want you to succeed, may not.  Or, they may have the best intentions in the world, but are just misguided.  Only you can operate your business like you.  Just because something may not have worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that it can’t work for you.  It also means that just because it’s never been seen before, doesn’t mean it won’t work.

Isn’t that really the heart of every entrepreneur?  We can do it better, smarter, and more efficiently than the other guy.  That’s why we jump into business, right? 

If you don’t think you are better, smarter, or more efficient than the guy down the street… well, maybe you need to rethink your business model.  You have to pinpoint what makes you special and what value you bring to the marketplace.  If you can’t do that, then there’s a good chance you will fail.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of taking the time to figure it out and define it.

When that photographer told me that my dream would fail, it forced me to pinpoint my own value in the marketplace.  I am a photographer with a physical studio space (with excellent natural lighting, if I may say so myself).  How many other photographers do you know with a studio around here?  This doesn’t mean that I can’t shoot on location, but having this space has really set me apart from other photographers in this area. 

The studio has allowed me to focus on headshots, which I love, and it has also provided me with a weather-proof location for family sessions.  If you ask me, I think it’s a huge competitive advantage.

When the photographer told me it wouldn’t work, it also lit my competitive fire.  It made me want to prove that I could make it a success even MORE.   Even though he might have felt he was giving me great advice, it made me realize I needed to follow my heart and run my business the way I felt it needed to be run.  I also made it a point from that moment on to stop asking everyone “hey, what do you think about…”.  That question was only saved for people who had experience in the arena and who could give me insightful guidance/advice because they have been there/done that.

So, yes, it was the worst advice EVER.  But, I think it was a critical turning point in my career.  Sometimes you just need someone to say you can’t in order for you to show them how well you can.

Four years and thousands of happy customers later, I believe I’ve made my point.

Alimond Studio's Natural Light Photography Studio in Downtown Leesburg, Va.  This is where the magic happens!  We capture Headshots and Family sessions right in this beautiful space!

Alimond Studio’s Natural Light Photography Studio in Downtown Leesburg, Va.  This is where the magic happens!  We capture Headshots and Family sessions right in this beautiful space!

What’s the worst advice YOU’VE received when you started your business? Leave it in the comments section below!

Read the Comments +

  1. Tricia says:

    I could see that advice coming from someone trying to help you. So many people can’t keep up with brick and mortar financial obligations. Your studio is a major attraction because of the natural lighting, for sure. Glad you stuck with it!

    • Aliyah Dastour says:

      Agreed Tricia! I must say that there are ways to make those dreams a reality, no matter how big or how small. And yes, when I saw the potential in this space with just the natural light streaming in, I knew it was a winner!

  2. Krystal says:

    Pull through, queen! Sorry that wasn’t very professional but that is how happy I am for you. You inspire me everyday!

    • Aliyah Dastour says:

      Thank you Krystal! We are each giving 100% to what we are passionate about and at the end of the day, it feels pretty darn amazing, doesn’t it?

  3. Michelle Caraballo says:

    Great article! Always follow your heart and your instincts! God gave you this phenomenal gift and he will always provide a way for you to us it!

  4. Great Aliyah! I admire you and I am so happy that you made your own decision base on what you think is right for you. I used to allow others to tell me what is best for me and I’m sure they all have good intentions but you are so right! No one else knows best but you! Trust your instinct. It doesn’t hurt to listen to others advice but again, the decision must come from us- business owners.


  5. I’m SO glad you wrote this!! People tell me time and time again that brick and mortar shops are on the out and everyone shops online now. It’s always been my dream to open a boutique/coffee shop where people can come chat, relax, meet friends and shop! I won’t give up on my dream…thanks! I needed this today

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