Define Your Style

successful people

successful peopleNot getting the most networking bang for your buck?  Having trouble getting noticed?  Not making the connections you really want?

 

If you’re not attracting the right people, you may need to reassess the message you’re sending to those around you.  When we’re networking we’re not only marketing our businesses, but ourselves as well.  Your company image is echoed through your personal style.  During a first encounter with a new acquaintance, you have less then 10 seconds to establish a positive first impression, and 55% of that first impression is based on how you look and how you behave. Therefore, your personal image and conduct need to be outstanding.

 

So how do you become outstanding?  First, define your corporate identity and message.  Think about what your business is about and what it stands for.  For instance, quality work/products, dependability, fair pricing.  Now think of three adjectives by which you, as the owner want to be remembered.  Confident, sincere, capable, etc.?  What is the message you want to instill in others?  “I can help your business grow.”  “I can provide you with customized solutions.”  “I can help make your workforce happier and healthier.” 

 

Next, look at yourself in a mirror.  Are your clothes sending the message you want to send?  Someone who is looking for an expert to help grow his/her business will be attracted to a look of experience and stability.  So stay away from the business casual look.  Try wearing a suit in a medium to darker neutral tone to promote experience and stability.  Show you are approachable, friendly and open for business through the colour of your blouse/shirt and simple but well-chosen accessories.

 

If your message is that you ‘provide customized solutions’, create a look that shows you are innovative and flexible.  Scrap the full suit.  Try coordinated tailored separates (jacket, skirt or pants).  Use colour and accessories to show you are creative and professional.  Keep your bottoms neutral to show stability, then add some creativity with a bold coloured or textured jacket or, maybe, pop some interest with a colourful striped or patterned shirt/blouse.  Remember to use only one creative focal piece in your clothing – too many is overkill.

 

When your business is all about making a workforce happier and healthier’, you will be expected to be up to date on health and wellness.  A pin-stripe navy blue suit and starched white shirt isn’t going to work.  You want to appear as stress-free as your client’s workplace will be when you are working with them.  Go for a more relaxed look.  Try separates in warmer, earthier tones.  Choose natural fabrics and accessories.  For example, tweed pants with a cream cotton top will reflect a calm, friendly yet professional approach.  Ladies, accessorize with wood, beads and stones.

 

The key is to stay true to who you are and what your business stands for, while always remaining professional.  Successful people want to do business with other successful people.  So take pride in who you are and what you offer.  Let that pride shine through the way you dress and how you communicate with others.  When you send the right message, the right answers will come and the right people will appear.

Kinky Boots

kinky-boots-poster-0

 

Summer’s been a great time to get more inspiration from the movies.  I recently re-watched ‘Kinky Boots’ – set in London, it’s based on a true story.  Charlie Price, the son of a sensible, conservative men’s shoemaker finds himself on a quest to save his family’s business, which is sinking fast.  Old-fashioned values are no longer enough to service the market – new and creative ideas need to be explored.  This is the story of overcoming adversity by defining a sexier niche market.

Sometimes as business owners, we feel like we can’t deviate from our original plan, especially when we’ve created something from scratch.  Even if the original plan isn’t working any more, we feel we’d be admitting to failure if we shifted direction.  We’d rather waste more and more time, energy and money trying to fix something, that perhaps shouldn’t be fixed.  Maybe our plan has just run its course and now its time to move on.

It’s not shameful; it’s practical.  Rebranding may be the key to survival.

It’s worked for some billion dollar enterprises, why not yours?

 

Although McDonald’s Restaurants have always done well in just giving us fast, fun and cheap food, public opinions and concerns do change.  In the last decade the trend toward healthier lifestyles has definitely impacted their reputation.  Documentaries, like ‘Super Size Me’ made a mockery of the business and emphasized their contribution to the obesity epidemic in the United States.  Since then, McDonald’s has added salads and more healthier choices into their menu.  The result…business has never been better.  So, be sure to pay attention to your customers and your critics – give them what they want.

One of my favourite examples is Old Spice.  I remember the old commercials from when I was a kid – sailing ships and rugged, manly men.  I must admit, up until recently, it was a scent I’d associate with my father’s generation.  Not something I’d buy for my husband.  But since Old Spice launched a fresh new campaign with former NFL player, Isaiah Mustafa and a series of clever and unexpected TV & online ads, they’ve engaged a whole new generation.  In this example, the product remained the same; the perception of that product is what changed.

So, is rebranding right for you?  Well, you need to consider some serious questions take lots of time to properly research your answers:

 

  • Why do you want to rebrand?
    • Have you had some negative publicity?
    • Are you being confused with your competition?
    • Are your products and services outdated?
    • Have you changed ownership?
    • Are you branching out in a new direction?
    • What do you hope to achieve from rebranding?
    • What is the current perception of your company to the public?  To your customers? Competitors?
    • Will you be keeping your current target market or taking on a new one?
    • What will these customers expect or want from you?

 

Now, although I’ve given a couple of examples of rebranding that worked, it may not always be the answer.  Don’t be quick to jump into something new – perhaps just a change in marketing strategy might be what you need and a complete re-branding may be overkill.  The simple answer…take your time; do your research; consult with your advisors, especially your customers.

 

Put On Your Crown (Part I)

Put on Your Crown - Queen Latifah

Put on Your Crown - Queen LatifahOne of my idols is Queen Latifah.  I’ve loved her from her early days as a rap artist, through her TV & movie career and her move to R&B & jazz music.  We’re about a year and a half apart in age (I’m older) and watching her break through barriers in the entertainment world made me feel like I could do the same in my own world.   She’s a beautiful woman who’s comfortable in her own skin and she’s helped to open people’s eyes to what real beauty is…confidence.

 

I recently picked-up her book, Put on Your Crown, from my local library and could not put it down.  It’s not a how-to or self-help book, but shared life experiences along with personal learnings and simple advice.  Over the next few months I’m going to share my greatest takeaways from each chapter in the book.  So, take out your crown (I know you’ve got a tiara stashed away somewhere!), place it on your head and bestow upon yourself all the glories of Queendom!

 

Chapter 1:  Success

Get out of your box

“We’ve all got so much more potential in us than we are willing to explore.  We’re all capable of second, third, and fourth acts…And we can, as long as we remember to get out of our own way.”

 

The average age of women business owners in Canada in 45.  And many start businesses in completely different fields from where they came.  I think we start off in life looking at our careers very logically, sensibly – Where are the jobs?  What will bring me a decent salary?  We don’t necessarily follow our passions, especially if they’re not ‘lucrative’ career options.  So once we’ve done the ‘right’ thing, meaning got a steady job, got married and had kids, we start to wonder, ‘what if’, what else we could have done.  Now, I know change is scary and seemingly impossible sometimes.  But whether it’s opening a business, changing careers or changing your hair colour, I think that if you don’t at least explore your options, and open yourself to the possibilities, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

 

Tap into your talent

“You have to go past what you think you can do, and then you have to go in and dig up some things inside you.  Go outside your comfort zone…When you’re not watching the clock and you’re completely absorbed in it, you’ll know that’s something you can dedicate yourself to 100 percent.  That’s the difference between a job and a career.” 

 

Many of you may know that I started my career in the cosmetics industry.  I began as a beauty advisor behind a counter and I loved it!  It was amazing to me how the right lipstick colour could boost someone’s self-esteem.  You could see they felt more confident, stronger, sexier!  I fed off that energy and wanted to make it happen again and again.  I worked my way into head office in PR & training with the hopes of sitting at senior management one day.  However, that was not to be.  The mid-nineties were a time of downsizing and I found myself laid off twice in 5 years.  I worked outside of the industry for a few years, not by choice, but to pay the bills.   But something about helping women bring out the best in themselves, kept calling me back.  I wanted to feel that energy again – I knew that’s what I was supposed to do.  Hence, I jumped ship and started my business.

 

What is it that drives you?  What gives you energy?  What are you so passionate about that if you could afford to, you’d give it away for free?  We’ve all got something – I urge to find yours.

 

It Takes a Team

“Most people don’t have so much talent that they can become a success all on their own.  We all need people to help us and lift us up.  And other people need our help.  When you put that together, you can create something really powerful.”

 

When I read this, my immediate thought was to my business women’s group, Success in Stilettos.  I founded the group to bring independent business women together to share resources and experiences and to support one another as we grow our businesses.  As a solopreneur, I have no staff, no partners, no coworkers – these women are my team – they’re my advisors, my mentors, my friends.  And although I have wonderful support from my family, it’s important to be surrounded by people who are more like me – who can relate to me – who I can feel safe with in sharing my dreams and fears.  We all need people to sing our praises when we’ve done well; to bring us back to our path when we’ve strayed, and to pick us up when we’ve fallen.  Build your team and keep it strong.

 

Start where you are

“It’s important for us to figure out who we are as quickly as possible.  We need to be clear on what we are and are not willing to stand for, deal with, or put up with.  We need to decide who we want to be seen as.”

 

One of the first questions I ask my clients when I sit down with them is, “How do you want people to remember you?”  I ask them to give me 3 words or phrases of how they want to be seen, for example, I’d like to be known as confident, inspiring and approachable.  Whatever words you choose, ensure they are true to who you are and how you feel.  It’s important to be authentic and not try to be something you’re not.    And once you know who you are, you need to carry that message through in everything you do – how you look, walk, talk and present yourself.    Especially in business, your authentic image is everything!

 

Talkin’ About Evolution

“Reinventing yourself isn’t becoming a different person.  It’s bringing out all the things you have inside of you in another way.” 

 

Throughout this chapter Latifah refers to women as ‘multidimensional beings’, capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, or that we choose to explore.  She’s lived this herself through her journey through music to TV to the big screen – both in front of the camera and as a producer.  She’s a CoverGirl, an author, speaker, advocate for girls’ empowerment – and the list continues to grow.

 

In business, I know we always hear that we should ‘specialize’ and do one thing really well.  I agree with this to a certain extent.  Personally, I can’t understand when someone hands me three different business cards at a networking event – they’re an accountant, a handyman and a floral designer!  Now that’s a little schizophrenic.  But when you become multidimensional in one field – as Latifah did with entertainment – then you maintain your credibility while you illustrate your versatility.

 

 

 

Renaissance Woman

“I’m not done yet.  I will be a work in progress until the day I die.  There’s a lot more to this party called life, and I am going to extract all I can until the party’s over.”

 

I am a huge believer of life-long learning.  There’s so much to know and we’ll never know it all in our lifetime.  But it can be so invigorating to try.  I love attending seminars in both personal and business development and although sometimes the content may not be anything new, I always come away with at least one new insightful nugget.

 

I believe I’m very good at what I do, but I know I may not be best in my field.  There are many who have much more experience, perhaps a keener eye.  But I know I’m the best me I can be at this moment and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this time in my life.  And I truly believe that the best is yet to come.

Business Building Tips

confidence persevere steady building business

confidence persevere steady building businessI recently attended Peak Potentials’ Guerrilla Business School in L.A.  It was an intense week full of valuable information, great connections and plenty of inspiration.  Peak Potentials is T. Harv Ecker’s (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind) Training Organization.  Some may find their methods a little ‘out there’ or ‘hokey’, but personally, I find it invigorating.  It’s not the norm…and that’s why I like it.  It pushes me to challenge my beliefs, and I couldn’t tell my clients to step outside their comfort zone, if I wasn’t doing the same.

I wanted to share with you some of my greatest takeaways from the course.

“Sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity.”

I know I’m guilty of holding myself back from trying things or sharing things because it’s not exactly how I think it should be.  For example, my beautiful new website…I struggled with how to fill it – trying to make sure every word, every picture was perfect.  I was stressing over the littlest things that probably no one else would notice except me.  And why?  Most likely, fear.  Fear of not looking fantastic…after all, I am an image consultant.

Maybe you have a program or business idea that you want to launch.  You’ve been working on it for 5 years now and you won’t let anyone else see it, because it’s just now quite right.  Well, when will it be?  Probably never, and that’s okay.  There is no such thing as perfection…don’t strive for it…it’s too stressful.  Have ambition, do your very best and enjoy the growth that comes from lifelong learning.

“How you do one thing is how you do everything”

It doesn’t matter how small the task – give it your full energy and attention.  We tend to get lazy when it comes the simple things.

My daughter and I have a tradition of treating ourselves to Starbucks on Sundays.  We head to our local café to have our latte & smoothie and enjoy some girl time.  Since I’m in my own neighbourhood, I tend let down my guard.  I leave the house in jeans, t-shirt and a cap on my head (‘cause my hair’s not done) and not a stitch of makeup.  After all, I’m just going down the street…why bother?  Why?  Because opportunity is everywhere and you never know who you’re going to meet.  What if I strike up a conversation with someone who I could possibly serve?  How do I explain I can make them outstanding, if I’m not?  How much time would it have taken?  It’s the same amount of time to get dressed, just different clothing choices.  And maybe 10 extra minutes to throw on a little makeup?

Everything we do is a reflection on us.  How do you want to be perceived?

Build a Team

Some of you reading this may be solopreneurs and feel that you have to do everything on your own.  After all, it’s your business – you started it, so you’re responsible for it all!  Well, maybe so, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have some help.  And that help doesn’t have to come in the form of employees.  You may not be in the position to hire anyone, and that’s okay.  So until you get to that level, look to your network for resources and support.  Build your own board of advisors – an accountant, a lawyer, a marketer, a personal/business coach, supportive friends, family and peers.

Some may be able to help with the day-to-day workings of your business, others may provide valuable resources and connections and others may provide invaluable moral support and motivation to persevere.  Meet with them often, invite their feedback and be open to it.  And always be willing to be of service to them.

Market!  Market!  Market!

Most entrepreneurs tend to spend most of their time on developing their products/services or managing their operations and admin.  Very little time is spent on marketing the business.  Why?  Because more often than not, business professionals are good at what they do, but not very good at letting others know how good they are.  And if people don’t know about you, how can they buy from you?

Usually our professional training covers how we can serve our clients, but not how we can get our clients.  And for many, marketing is a very uncomfortable task.  If this is you…GET OVER IT!  Why did you branch out on your own then?  If you don’t want to market yourself, then go work under someone else and put this whole entrepreneurial idea out of your mind.

There’s tons of ways to market your business – social media, blogs, newsletters, trade shows, etc. – but that’s a whole other blog.  The point is, figure out what the best medium is to connect with your target market and utilize it consistently with the right messaging.  Not sure how to do that?  Maybe I will have to write another blog, or better yet, consult your team!