Sunday, August 16, 2009

You Are What You Look Like - Small Business

You may have holes in your shoes,
but don't let the people out front know it.
Shine the tops.

—Earl Hines (musician)

I happened to be in the city recently and stumbled upon a store that supplies business clothing for men and women. Times have certainly changed since the only uniform shops sold blue workman's pants, overalls and steel-cap boots.

This store was quite interesting to me, they had a great range, classic pieces, that would be well received in business or smart dressing after work. Great because the items were all priced to the market and no more and in many cases cheaper than the department store Usual Suspects charge. The department stores of course, don't always have stock that is quite right for the business environment.

And I got to thinking about corporate dress and how that has improved over time, and what the situation is in small business.

Quite different.

There are so many areas that small business struggles with compared to corporate businesses. In corporations, systems (good or otherwise) are a standard part of doing business. Not so in small business.

Struggling with running a business without beginning with a good system in place, means that there is always going to be stress related directly to that lack of a systemic approach, and managing the inevitable crises that happen, in addition to the day-to-day stuff that has to happen. The stress plays out for the owner of the business, the staff of the business, and commonly, the customers of the business. Many times it affects the financial wellbeing of the business too.

Attending to planning and strategic issues is often regarded as "not important" as the customer complaining on the phone. There can be a disconnect with what's vital in the business, for it's long term health - and the actually petty but urgent "must fix this now" stuff. Stuff that exists very often, because there are no good systems to deal with it!

Dress for business is an area that gets less attention than most. And yet that whole way that we present our business - our printed material, our online presence, how we answer the phone and how we dress - all communicate with our customers what we think of our business and them and what we think of ourselves.

Really, it is time for small business to lift it's game and start presenting to the world as a business - not like amateurs playing at running a business.

Stand up and be counted as serious contenders.

How do you approach dress in your business? Your feedback is most appreciated.

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Teddy Towncrier said...

So true!

We only have one chance at a first impression whether in person, with a phone greeting or even a voice mail message.

For the times when wardrobe budget may be a challenge; There are some wonderfully supportive resources to smooth the journey for men and women.

Here’s your Sir Galahad of fashion. More.


Entregreeneur said...

Hi Lindy, @Entregreeneur here.

As a veteran of doing small business the hard way and only in my early stages of developing inter-linked systems for my small business, I am rapidly learning the importance of a holistic approach to business systems thinking.

What you write about dress is quite pertinent.

What we wear in our small business defines to those we interact with how we perceive ourselves and our commitment to our business.

It's 11:38pm but I'm still in suit pants and business shirt, because I'm still in my home office.

On Wednesday I interviewed and hired a new administrative assistant for my business. I did so in my home office.

I could easily have stayed in my track suit and old jumper, after all its my home this young man came to.

But I am taking my small business seriously, treating it as if I am the CEO of a multinational corporation.

Before his arrival, I showered, shaved, dressed in a suit and tie and met him with a sense of purpose, poise and commitment to excellence that I doubt I would have felt or presented had I stayed in the tracky dackies (Australian for track suit).

We consciously create our reality through our thoughts and we consciously create other people's perception of us through how we present ourselves with our grooming and sartorial selections.

And those are my thoughts for the moment.

good evening,


lindyasimus said...

Thanks for the comments Bradley. Same time here and I'm also in my home office. ;-)

Hopefully the message will get through to some business owners. It is not just personal attire, it is an attitude that we bring to a business as speaks to the standards we wish to set.

Appreciate you taking the time to comment.