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"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible"

~ Anonymous

Tea Time with Liv

Your Image Means Everything

In the WAHM world we come across women from all walks of life. One thing that never changes in the professional image we expect from a business. No matter whether you are the frugal mom trying to help provide for your family or the seasoned owner building the bigger and better business, your image is everything.

When we speak about image, we are not always talking about the physical sense. We will talk about the physical sense though. For now this is more the details in which we operate our business. This can start with your website and end with your business card and everywhere in between.

As a WAHM myself I am far more forgiving than the neighbor down the street seeing and hearing about what you have to offer for the first time. Because of this, you need to think in the shoes of a customer purchasing from a business no matter the size. Here you have a specific standard and want nothing less. Being the business owner (as a consultant you are also a business owner) you can't expect your customer to be understanding of you being the WAHM and excuse a less than expected image. Your customer feels the same about you as they do about any business and is not going to lower the standards just because you are a WAHM. This is the harsh reality and why it is so important to focus on this area.

If you can only spend money in one place for your business, make it your business cards. Get high quality glossy cards. Do not make your own here. The cost is cheap because they quality is cheap. Now that sounds brutal but amateur printing sets the tone for an amateur business. If your first set of business cards has to be done at home, keep it simple, keep production small. Upgrade ASAP though. Another sign of amateur is ordering free cards and advertising for that company stamped on the back. These things do not sound important and you may be told by several close to you this is OK but think about a multi million dollar company doing this. No you are not a multi million dollar company but you are a business and should show the most professional abilities available to you.

Now you may think these costs are too outrageous just starting out. As the old saying goes - it takes money to make money. You just need to plan well. Before starting any business, you need to have a plan and part of that plan includes a financial budget. In your budget you should include marketing. Business cards and such are part of this category. If you started your business before planning, it is not too late. Break out that notebook I am always talking about. Start working out a plan.

Previously we talked about goals. This is another reason why goals are so important. You need to know where you are going and how to get there. Advertising and your image are part of your goals. In your notebook you should already have jotted down an idea of where you want to be financially. For you to make a profit this month after paying for products and services, business suppliers, advertising, what number have you given to make that happen? We will get more into budgets in the future but for now you need to keep these in mind. Having that goal and knowing how to get there allows you to follow a course and not just stumble your way there.

Another big no no but a common project is printing your own catalogs on standard paper. Not only do these bleed through, crease easily, they look terrible no matter how clever your attempts. Many times there is an obvious printing margin set by your printer that looks out of place and shows you printed these items. Now this does not mean never do it. You can explain you printed them a catalog so they can see the products and you will be sending them your normal catalog soon. If you must print your own, create a border that looks like it belongs, use a nice card stock or specialty paper (available at office supply stores), don't go overboard with unnecessary graphics.

If you don't want to take my word for it, look at those who are making a good living doing what they do. Are you getting flimsy business cards and self made catalogs? Are you getting cheap flyers that bleed through due to double sided printing? Are they crinkled because of wet ink?

Another part of image we forget is our fun profiles. We sign up for social networking sites for business or pleasure but we forget others are watching even the personal pages. Those sexy pictures that lead to an active imagination are not the pictures you want your clients to see. They may not be actively looking for them but may stumble upon them. If you must share these, make them private and not available openly in public areas. Another is watch your language. In a fun atmosphere you feel free and let the words flow but those words can portray a very unsavory business person and turn people off. Not to say you shouldn't let loose and enjoy but watch how much you partake in and how far you take it.

Never show up to a party in a t-shirt and jeans. It is inappropriate. If you must wear a t-shirt wear khaki slacks and business casual shoes. Not tennis shoes. Jeans and a t-shirt should be reserved for athletic activities not parties. Keep hair clean and simple, jewelry simple, makeup appropriate, tone down the perfume (some are very sensitive), shoes always clean.

There is always somebody watching. They watch how you run your business, interact with others, how you dress. Everything. Nobody wants to deal with someone unprofessional. Don't give anyone reason to not want to do business with you.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009


fashiongal said...

good fashion tips well said never turn up in tshirt and jeans, i get lovely dresses online it takes no effort

Stephanie Elizabeth said...

That was an excellent post with some great information. We published some information on this topic too.

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