July 11, 2007

Are You Wearing A Fanny Pack?

by: Nika Stewart

My best friend Karen and I were at the gym last week walking on adjoining treadmills and chatting. Karen was telling me about a man she saw at the gym the day before. "He was so handsome," she said. She went on to describe his flowing hair, piercing eyes, and great body. "But then I saw..." She paused as she scrunched up her face. "...he was wearing a fanny pack."

I laughed out loud. (A fanny pack, for those who don't know, is basically a belt bag. It's often used by tourists, and it is definitely considered as utility over fashion.) Karen, who likes to call herself the "Fashion Police," immediately altered her high opinion of this otherwise perfect man.

So this got me thinking. What are we doing with our businesses that, although it may seem small and unimportant, can change the opinions of our prospects, sometimes without our even knowing? Every part of your business must live up to your professional image. Even a small detail overlooked can damage your reputation. Are you ignoring any aspects of your business? Are you wearing a fanny pack?

Below, I've listed business elements that are often overlooked or given little attention. Make sure you take care with all of these areas.

  • Website
    Does your website look like an amateur designed it? If you are not an expert on web design and hosting, find someone who is. A professional website is a must to compete in today's marketplace.
  • Answering Machine
    If you can't answer the phone in person, does your recording sound professional and cheerful? Do you get back to people quickly?
  • Receptionist / Greeter
    There nothing more irritating than being treated badly by a salesperson or receptionist. Do the people who come into contact with your prospects live up to your desired image?
  • Contracts
    Just because you've gotten a sale, your professionalism should not end. Your contracts need to reflect your company image, or you can lose future sales or cause buyer's remorse.
  • Portfolio
    I was recently in a small furniture / accessory store when another customer asked the store owner to see her portfolio. The owner pulled out a wad of 4X6 photos from a desk drawer and spread them on her cluttered desk. This is how she tries to get design projects? Although her store had beautiful items, her "portfolio" (which showed a lack of pride in her work) was a fanny pack that I'm sure turned many prospects away.
  • Your Appearance
    What is your desired business image? Professional? Wild? Creative? Does your physical appearance match it? If not, prospects will have a hard time getting past that, and you will appear less credible.

Remember: If you are overlooking any area of your business, you can be sure that prospects will notice. Everything you put out there needs to be as fabulous as you!

I wish you continued success.

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