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Last Update: Friday September 17, 2021

Key Idea: Change

Monica's big change happened when she stopped being the hometown girl.

Key Question:


Do something different.

Before Monica decided to "go international" she was doing just fine. However, as the time drew near for South Africa to hold it's first multi-racial election, the pull of the event was irresistable. It was 1994. She had been working for herself since 1990. We imagine Monica dreaming of being one of the first photographers in the world to capture the picture of Nelson Mandela as he was expected to be elected president of a new South Africa.

Q: What does it take to change your business?

A: You must circle back to the top of this page. You have to take another strategic and calculated risk. Consult your mentors, advisors, customers and employees. Dream both about possibilities and potential profits.

Monica gave up one month of work in Detroit to explore a whole new world. Steve Hoffman, founder of Modern Postcard, gave up his $10 million dollar strategy and now he has a $40 million dollar business. Scott Mooney gave up doing every aspect of his catalog business in-house which positioned him to sell for millions.

Change means letting go so you can grab hold of the new opportunity.

Think about it

What could you do to change your image?

Clip from: Monica Morgan Photography

Detroit:  Meet Monica Morgan.   She took a calculated risk and it paid off. And, then she got serious about running a business.

In this episode of the show you can learn many lessons about sole proprietorships, risk-taking, sharing, mentoring, being mentored, and chutzpah (even temerity).  Today, Monica runs a full-service photography studio and is at the top of her game. She is a photojournalist who contributes to Newsweek, Jet, the Detroiter and the Associated Press. Rosa Parks first commissioned Monica to do the cover for her bestseller, Quiet Strength, then she became Rosa's photographer.

We all ask, "How can I get to the top of my profession?" Monica has done it.  Mix one part courage (heart, the muscle) with two parts intelligence (brains, that deep knowledge of your profession) and three parts tenacity (personal will), and then, constantly reinvent the formula. Magic begins to happen.

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Monica Morgan Photography

Monica Morgan, Founder

500 River Place Drive
Suite 5109
Detroit, MI 48207

Visit our web site:

Office: 313-259-7005

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1990


HATTIE: Going to South Africa was a watershed event for Monica, both personally and professionally. What she teaches with this trip is to start a business, you have to take a risk, but you have to continue to take risks to grow. She didn't have the money to go on this trip, and if she went, she would lose the income she could earn back in her Detroit studio. But something in her heart told her to go. She went to the bank and took out a personal loan with no guarantee that anyone would buy anything from her when she got back.

(Voiceover) So off to South Africa on a hunch. Not only did she take pictures, she took extraordinary pictures. She was carried on the AP wires and her homecoming was a triumph. Now she's not just a hometown girl, she is an international photographer. With these pictures in her portfolio, she repositioned her business.

She has earned thousands of dollars over what it cost her to go to South Africa just on the pictures she shot there, but more than that, she is seen in a new way by her customers back in Detroit. She has raised her prices and now she is turning down work that she finds uninteresting.

If you're stuck at a certain level in your business, maybe it's time for you to take a new risk. Think of it this way. South Africa could be a metaphor for you to do something radical. If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep having what you're having. At SmallBusinessSchool, this concept is so important to us, we call our company Flying Leap. When's the last time you took one?

(Voiceover) At there is self-help study for people who want to start a business and for people who want to grow the business they have. To learn more about this episode choose the overview. You can read every word you're hearing today when you choose the transcript and go deeper with the case study. And there's streaming video and access to interactive study guides throughout the site.

(Voiceover) In August of 2005 Katrina brought to New Orleans the largest natural disaster in American history. Her drive to document the human story moved Monica out of her comfortable studio to the watery saddness. To the shelters. To wherever in the world the story takes her.

MONICA: You have to take chances. And you can't always look at the dollar figure today. The dollar figure can be there tomorrow. You have to follow your dream. There were a lot of people who told me, `You can't do it. Why are you going over there? There's nothing that you can get.' My second day there is when a bomb went off, and my photos ran all over the world on the AP news wire. The interesting thing about that was when I called AP and told them I was coming over to bring my film, they said, `Well, come on over, we'll take a look.' When I got there, another photographer, a male, said to me, `Oh, you're the other photographer that called? They've already put my images on the wire so you don't even need to go in.' And a part of me said, `Oh, well, he's probably much better than I am. Maybe I just need to go on back.' And then I said, `Wait a minute. At least I can get the film developed. I can, you know, do that.' I went inside and they looked at my photos, they instantly pulled some of his off the wire and put mine on. They said my angles were better. And so that says that you can't let someone else tell you what you can or cannot do. You have to believe in yourself. And once you believe, then other people will start to believe.

HATTIE (In the Studio): What could be your South Africa? To take a growth leap, Monica had to do something dramatic. She went to South Africa and even though there was no guarantee, the experience changed her and her business completely. She was no longer the girl down the street, she became a global presence. He name appeared in the world's newspapers next to her extraordinary photographs. You took a leap to start your business. Is it time to take another one to grow it? We'll see you next week.

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