How To Look Bigger Than You Are
Virtual addresses help a startup look 'bigger' than they are. As in nature, the bigger you are the more impressive you are. The frog puffs itself up, the cat arches its back and fluffs its fur, a bird fans its feathers to attract a mate.
Men wear suits. These are armour, made of cloth; a proclamation, and a defense. You are judged by how you look. Hippies can negotiate deals if they're in the music industry, but they make bankers nervous. Who are you going to give your money to: someone who looks like they don't care about their appearance, or Mr. Smart Suit With A Firm Handshake?
Here's a list of low-cost tips to help make deals easier:
1. Dress To Impress
You needn't spend a lot. Charity shops occasionally get high-class labels in, especially in wealthy areas. Some clothes look ideal on you, off-the-peg. Certain colours suit you and others don't. If you've no sense of style, ask an attractive woman what looks good on you.
Get a couple of formal suits, four ties and a range of cotton shirts in neutral colours. Shoes should be leather brogues, which will take a shine; it's the little things.
There's a trend in the City to shun ties. That was smart two years ago. It makes people who wear ties look even more formal now, and thus, more respectable. And that is good.
Keep your hair trimmed and be sweet-smelling. You'll find you feel more confident and clients will respond better: a lord can expect deference but a tramp has to wheedle.
Cover up tattoos and piercings. These are essentially tribal. Leaders don't have these markings.
Whatever you carry on your person is a clue about who and what you are. People who don't know your background will be trying to figure out who you are. Help them to come to the right judgement.
TIP: Smell is something many men overlook or overdo. Shower in the morning. A light dab of aftershave is what you need. If needs be, wash again in the afternoon if you have a meeting. Check your breath; some people can't smell their own halitosis. A businessman who reeks of B.O. or aftershave is sending signals which may cost him dearly in the long run.
2. Website And Stationery And URLs
Website: People Google other people. Thirty years ago if you said you'd googled someone the listener would have assumed some weird sexual perversion, or you'd bowled them out at cricket.
A website, at the very least, is a business card. It should reflect your niche. A card dealership looks very different to a firm of solicitors online. We think we're unique beings; we're not. We're herd creatures and constantly looking to belong. We want reassurance. The world is a hostile place.
So your website should ideally be an excellent example of your niche type.
Logo, font, colours, forms, images should be typical of your profession and not something your nephew cooked up over the bank holiday. There are website templates which are a good start. Wordpress is a fine CMS with a lot of free features. A site need not cost a lot, especially if you don't need to take payments through it. Everything should work and the copyright year at the bottom should be the current one.
If money is super tight, it might be possible simply to buy a site on eBay, slap your logo and contact details on it, and start from there. The main thing is not to make work for whoever is providing the site, at least in the early stages. The quicker you can look pro, the better.
TIP: Make sure you you buy the domain name yourself and that the site is hosted on an account you have full admin access to.
Stationery: Just get a minimum print run on nice paper. It will take you a long time to use up even a ream. Business cards are still a simple way to give your contact details to someone. Keep it slick but don't spend too much time on it. You'll find you dump loads of it the next time your address or telephone number changes.
URLs: Clients sniff around Facebook and LinkedIn to get a feel of who they're dealing with. So only post material that puts you in a good light. Accounts of nights of hedonism or extreme political views will deter a percentage of people from dealing with you.
3. Mailing Address
Hey, we sell these! Anyway, the address should match your niche. A plumbing firm would look odd with an address in the City. A lawyer can't operate out of a shed. Accommodation addresses save a fortune on office rental. Only dumb startups spend their first tranche of funding on a kindergarten for nerds in Shoreditch.
Turn up in a sports car if you're selling property. If cash is tight, hire a beemer for the day or just park a goodly distance from the meeting, and walk to the front door. You can't sell financial products from a 1998 Nissan Micra. It raises queries in people's minds. You want control people's expectations, through your presentation.
Whoever answers the phone should have a pleasant, clean and engaging speaking voice. Don't hire tongue-tied Eastern Europeans who don't know local culture, unless you're selling an essential good, like car parts, and can afford to annoy a percentage of your clients.
Likewise, your salespeople should be presentable. To save money, hire the self-employed, part-time and insist they do not follow modern slacker culture. Someone who dresses casually and slouches sends a signal to the client: 'We're amateurs and we don't care about your custom'.
A black t-shirt and trousers is a cheap and effective uniform for service staff who are public-facing. Office staff should dress formally.
When you get your own office, keep the decor light and minimal and use company colours. Buy furniture in bulk at a discount. Back-office fittings can be second-hand. This stuff is all overhead so if the staff want top-of-the-range, too bad.
Avoid too much personalisation unless you're in the Arts. What you think is the bees-knees can look eccentric to others. Eccentricity makes people nervous.
Get elocution lessons if you can't speak clearly. You might be surprised to learn which superstar of stage, screen or parliament started life with a broad accent.
Learn how to speak in public. Join a debating society or Toastmasters. Speaking in public is the #1 human fear. Anyone who can master it has a HUGE advantage over competitors.
Pile up the positives in your presentation and eliminate the negatives and you have a much better chance of scoring the deal than the modern jughead, who believed his teachers when they told him he was 'special'.
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