Sep 12, 2018
It’s possible, but not advisable, to operate a business like a slob.
If you’re selling gold dust and you’re the only vendor in town, you can dress in jeans and wipe your sandwich ooze on your shirt and clients will still happily buy from you. But that’s an unlikely scenario. Any niche you can make money in, there’ll be competition.
Here are 7 things you can easily get, to give you an edge.
1. An organiser.
In the old days, this would be a diary. Nowadays, it’s an app. Wunderlist is a good one but any software you can make notes in, which will remind you to renew your domain name before 2.3.2022, will do the job.
Think you’ve got a good memory? Sure you do! It works great until you sit bolt upright in bed on a Friday night realising you forgot to shut the heating off at the factory before you went on holiday. Oops!
Let the digital domain take the strain. Then shut the thing off on Friday at 5pm and go off and enjoy yourself.
2. Smart clothes.
A smart suit never hurt any negotiation. Especially nowadays, when everyone dresses for comfort i.e. like a slob.
Whoever is tallest and strongest, with the loudest voice and smartest clothing is usually in charge of whichever room they’re in.
Don’t take cues from Silicon Valley nerds or trendoid politicians. They’re already top of the tree, so they don’t really need to try any more, and their studied casual dress is their not-so-subtle way of asserting their dominance; they have so much power they can dress like deck hands and still give the orders.
You can’t do that. Get a decent suit and wear a tie when you want to do business. Wear it often enough so you get comfortable it. Have jackets and trousers you can interchange when your other clothes are at the cleaners.
Bonus: smart clothing makes you feel more confident.
3. A smart body.
Which of these gets the deal? Mr. White teeth with a clean, crisp haircut, clean fingernails, pleasant body odour and a firm handshake or Mr Nervous who’s sweating and has just come out of a three-day coding jag and not bothered to decontaminate himself?
Businessmen are well above-average in the level of suspicion they will direct at you during negotiations; there’s money involved and this is likely not their first rodeo.
You might be a genius but eccentricity makes people nervous. Get clean!
3. Business cards.
These are used much less, nowadays, but you should get a few made up for that odd occasion you need to give someone your details there-and-then. Or leave it as a reminder when you pay a visit to their offices and the person you want to speak to isn’t there.
Keep it simple, on good paper and a nice design, which is understated, but that conveys, at least, the niche you’re in.
4. A smart website.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. It may not even be very interactive. What it does need to do is accurately reflect the level of competence you aspire to in your niche.
A solicitor’s website looks quite different to a plumber’s. As long as both have reassuring pictures, correct contact details and no visible errors, that may be enough.
Look at your competition to get an idea of the current minimum standard.
5. A good accountant.
A good accountant doesn’t have to be a genius. He just needs to be quick at maths, know the regulations, be punctual and upright. You’d be surprised how many miss out on one or more of these traits.
They guy who tells you how to fiddle your tax returns, you don’t need.
The one who knows which are legitimate deductions and can submit your returns accurately and in good time and who admits it upfront when he doesn’t know something, him you keep.
6. A good spouse.
A supportive spouse who understands that your being an entrepreneur means that there may be a lean month occasionally, is a treasure.
A spouse who demands £2k a month for household expenses come hail or shine is, well, not a huge asset to your business!
People who have never run their own business or been near to someone who does can be quite intolerant of what’s necessary to run one.
Pick a spouse who understands the war that is modern commerce. If you’re already married, make sure your spouse understands what’s going to happen before you go self-employed.
Money problems are one of two sure-fire ways to start a fight with someone. The other one is romance!