When starting as a business owner, it can be challenging to project a professional image. Maybe you don’t have the budget for a sleek office or expensive business suits. Perhaps you’re working from home and don’t have set office hours. Whatever the reason, looking professional is essential if you want to be taken seriously as a business owner.
According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, “first impressions matter, and they’re often based on how you look.” This is why it’s essential to take the time to present yourself professionally, even if you don’t have the resources of a big company behind you. So how can you project a more professional image as a new entrepreneur? Here are a few tips:
1. Get a PO Box or use a professional mailing address.
Having a separate address for your business is essential if you’re working from home. This will make you look more professional and give your customers a way to contact you that doesn’t involve your personal information. You can get a PO box from the post office or use a professional mailing service like Earth Class Mail.
Depending on your business, you may also want to get a separate phone line for your business. Because first impressions matter, you don’t want potential customers to hear a child crying or a dog barking in the background when they call you. Try to have a professional voicemail greeting as well to give callers the impression that they’ve reached a business, not a private residence.
2. Dress the part.
First impressions are essential, so it’s important to dress the part when meeting with potential clients or investors. Even if you don’t have the budget for designer clothes, there are plenty of ways to dress professionally on a budget. Stick to classic colors like black, navy, and gray, and invest in some quality pieces that will last you for years. With a few key pieces in your wardrobe, you’ll be able to put together complete outfits that project confidence and professionalism.
Additionally, you want to ensure your physical appearance is neat and polished. This means getting regular haircuts, investing in a good skincare routine, and wearing minimal makeup. Your smile is especially important, so visit your local dental clinic for regular checkups and cleanings. Remember that first impressions matter, so take the time to put your best foot forward.
3. Invest in some basic office supplies and furniture.
While you don’t need to go out and buy a mahogany desk and executive chair, having some basic office supplies and furniture is essential. This will make your workspace more functional and give the impression that you are serious about your business. At the very least, you should have a desk, comfortable chair, good lighting, and enough space to store your materials.
Some businesses opt for a coworking space instead of a traditional office. This can be a more cost-effective option and still give you the professional image you want. You can also look into renting office space by the hour or day if you only need it for occasional meetings. Some companies also offer virtual office spaces, which provide you with a mailing address and phone number without needing a physical space.
4. Get some business cards made.
Every entrepreneur needs business cards. They’re great for networking events and conferences and handy to have on hand in case you meet someone who might be interested in your product or service. Plenty of online services allow you to design and print your business cards, so take advantage of them. You can also find templates for designing your own business cards if you’re on a tight budget.
Include your name, title, contact information, and website on your business card. You might also want to include a brief tagline or slogan that sums up your business. If you have room, you can also include a QR code that links to your website or online portfolio. Many people also choose to include a headshot on their business cards, so potential customers can put a face to the name.
You don’t need an expensive office or designer wardrobe to look professional as a new entrepreneur—but there are some basic things you should invest in if you want to project a professional image. You can easily look more professional without breaking the bank by getting a PO box or professional mailing address, investing in office supplies and furniture, getting some business cards made, and dressing the part. With a little effort, you can put your best foot forward and give your business the best chance to succeed.