Our consult was with a potential little old lady client who didn't remember meeting me or having my business card. Her failing memory notwithstanding, I sensed that I was doing something unprofessional. She congratulated me no less than 3 times on starting a new business (I've been in business 6 years). Although hierarchy isn't my thing, boundaries are. She referred to my contractor as my friend, a co-founder of the company, and pretty much everything besides her actual role.
On the drive home I wondered, what is it that gives the impression I just started my business? Sure, a lot of it is the nature of the work. Dog walking is a relatively new career choice and most people assume you must be newly self-employed to do it. Everyone seems to have a story about a friend who walked dogs for a short while, so I'm certain that is being projected onto me and my career choice. But what am I contributing to this?
For my first several consults as a contractor, I would wear a sweater and slacks. When I decided to start my own business a year later, I wore a VistaPrint t-shirt advertising my fledgling company. Nothing shouts "I'm new!" louder than a free VistaPrint t-shirt.
Lately, I've had a wait list of clients to meet and greet, and frankly what I wear doesn't seem to matter. Any t-shirt and jeans combo sans holes and stains qualifies as "nice." This certainly hasn't turned clients away. If anything, my confidence attracts them even more.
Last night's meeting taught me that it's time to start presenting as a business owner, Knotty style. We have some organic t-shirts with our snazzy, local artist-designed logo on them. I think it's time to wear them to consults. Additionally, I went to the second hand shop and bought a snazzy jacket to wear over my t-shirt, to indicate my awesomeness:
Only $14 with the tags still on! Learning from my last post, I put it directly into the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes as soon as I got home. Now all I need is a clipboard, or maybe my tablet with a fancy intake app, to complete the look.