As the leader of your business, you are its public face. When people think of your business, you are who they picture in their head. You’re the general, the president, the alpha lion, and a few hundred other things too (I could write an entire series of articles listing them, and each post would be very, very long). So when you’re out there in the world, you are the key representative of your business. It’s important for your team to carry themselves a certain way when dealing with the public, but it is exponentially more important for you. You are the gold standard to which the rest of your team should aspire, so in all of your dealings, you must always remember to carry yourself with an air of professionalism.
Throughout your work life, you will receive feedback both positive and negative from your clients, your team, and everyone else you come into contact with. How you react to that feedback is important. It’s very easy to react to negative feedback in a negative way. Getting angry, annoyed, generally upset, these are all perfectly natural human responses to being told something is wrong. Perfectly natural human responses that you must be 110% cognizant of, and hold down to the best of your ability. Anything else would be exceedingly counterproductive. Always, always respond in a polite, courteous, and friendly manner, even when faced with a red-faced screaming client using every bit of profanity in the book (and a few rather creative ones that aren’t) telling you that your business sucks, your service sucks, your team sucks, and you suck. Don’t go the complete opposite route and “kill them with kindness” either, as that can come across as condescending. Stay level. Stay courteous. You don’t want to develop a bad reputation, and this will help.
How you present yourself and your business to the world is important as well. Keeping your work space (even if its never seen by the public) clean, neat, and tidy gives it an added air of professionalism. Keep it looking nice, and anyone who sees it will be given an impression of professionalism. But where your business operates out of isn’t the only thing that needs to be neat and tidy, you do too. Keep yourself clean and well groomed. Many of you are probably working out of your homes, and it’s very easy to let simple things like getting a haircut fall by the wayside. Don’t. You don’t want to be blindsided by a sudden meeting with a client and have to show up looking like you haven’t slept or taken a shower in days. Meeting with clients looking unkempt is a great way to make them think you lack professionalism. Especially if it’s your first meeting. The thing is, you could meet a potential client at any moment. At a restaurant, at the movies, even just while running to the store to grab a quick snack. So it’s best if you keep yourself looking your best at all times, just in case.
Of course, it’s very easy to come across as “fake professional.” Hmmm…that’s perhaps not the right way of phrasing that, but I honestly can’t think of a better one. I’ve had several encounters with business owners who give off a solid air of professionalism, and in fact are, but the moment they open their mouths it starts to sound phony. These people tend to constantly sound as if they’re speaking in “corporate-ese”. You could be discussing the weather or a recent film, and they sound like they’re spouting off marketing copy. Rather than sounding professional, they just sound fake. Like it’s an act. A front. Like if you managed to dig a little deeper into who they are as a person you’ll find they’re in fact tremendously unprofessional and really not the sort of person you’d want to deal with. So don’t just act professional, be professional. Be real. Be honest. Don’t put up a front, become what you are trying to act like. It’s far more effective.
If you carry yourself with a professional air, it reflects well on you, your team, and your business. This will make your path to PIE much, much smoother.