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Executive Insight

Dress Your Business for Success

When you are interviewing for a new job you want to put your best foot forward and impress your soon-to-be employer. You put your best foot forward, because you know what they say, “First impressions Count!” You are wearing your “I want this job and I can do it too!” business attire. You prepared in advance – anticipated the questions you may get asked and prepared your answers; you thought about the questions you will ask the interviewer about the job, the company, the people – show that you are interested in the position and the company. You smile; you extend your hand and give that firm handshake. At the end of the interview you feel confident you nailed it!

Now let’s get to the real subject – owning and operating a business. Just like you prepared and dressed for success when you nailed that job interview, you need to prepare and dress your business for success. What does that mean?

In the words of the late President, Ronald Reagan: “Well.” Every new business owner wants their business to be successful, but far too many don’t prepare in advance. They take shortcuts. Instead of doing their homework and testing the viability of their business idea, measuring the stability of their market industry and other key steps that increase the chances for success, they jump head first into the waters of business ownership. After they hit the water and find themselves floating to the middle of ocean, the inflatables they put around their arms to help keep them afloat begin to lose air pressure. They are too far out in the water to be able to swim back safely to the shore. It’s only a matter of time before they will begin to sink.

Well. If only they had prepared to enter the business world like they prepared for that job interview. If they had done their homework, they would have been prepared with the answers to the questions about the viability of the business or the market/industry conditions. If they had consulted with experts in starting a business, they could have asked questions that would have provided the answers they needed to make an informed decision. And, if they had dressed their business for success they would have nailed it and been confident that success was around the corner for them. Not saying that crossing all your t’s and dotting all you i’s will guarantee success in business; sometimes unforeseen occurrences happen. But being prepared and appropriately dressed can increase your chances for success.

Some of the qualities, talents, and skills that will help you to dress your business for success are listed below.

Putting Your Business on the Best-Dressed List

Management Ability:

Management experience is not the same as management ability. Management ability means being able to adequately take care of everything relating to your business. Lack of management ability is one of the biggest reasons many new businesses FAIL! People can be the “best” at performing their jobs – when they work for someone else. However, being the best at what you do on your job does not automatically translate into being a successful business owner. Managing a business involves more than performing the work involved with the front-end of the product or service. It involves being able to take care of the back-end as well – paying the bills on time, establishing and maintaining relationships with customers and vendors, marketing, accounting, and way more. Too many new business owners dismiss the importance of the back-end. Managing those back-end tasks require time, knowledge, and ability to keep the business running and operating smoothly.

Then there is your personal life – family, friends and yourself. You need to be able to manage that as well.

Interpersonal Skills

Running a business requires that you be able to interact and “get along” with others. Everybody is not going to be a cooperating candidate. You must be able to successfully handle all types of situations. In running your business, you may have to be a referee, a judge, a boss, a cohort, a counselor, and a friend, to name a few. Wearing your different hats at the appropriate times will lay the groundwork for more peace and prosperity in your workplace.

The Five Be’s

Be Optimistic:

An optimist can see beyond the hard times and envision the better times ahead. Optimism and confidence tend to go together. To be successful you must be able to make it through the tough times while working toward the pot of gold at the end of your business’ rainbow.

Be Self-Sacrificing:

Putting the needs of others ahead of your own requires a self-sacrificing spirit. As an owner, many times the needs of your business will take precedence over your personal needs. You may only get paid after you have paid all your workers, the expenses and the vendors. In the beginning, if there is any profit at all, you may be able to take a small salary. If you want to continue to grow you will most likely have to reinvest the profits into the business. Driving an older car, living in an older house and postponing vacations are just a few of the sacrifices you may have to make in order for your business to be successful.

Be a Leader:

Your staff – employees, contractors, consultants – will be looking to you for answers; about your products, your market, your competition and lots of other things. Successful business owners recognize they may be pulled in different directions at the same time and are able to rise to the occasion. That is the character of a good leader.

Be Proactive:

You don’t need a college degree and a lot of letters behind your name to run a successful business or originate a good business idea. What you do need, however, is the ability to anticipate problems and take steps to prevent them. Successful business owners keep their finger on the pulse of the business and the industry. When they anticipate changes are coming, they take steps to prepare their business by creating contingency plans. Being prepared can mean the difference between success and failure.

Be Organized:

There are always a multitude of things going on at one time when you own a business. These include customer problems, vendor/supplier problems, staff problems, and competitor problems. You have to be able to quickly know and understand the problems confronting you and prioritize which ones require your attention first. Then there’s your work space. Keeping files, invoices and other important papers in their designated places (not piled on top of your desk) will save you many headaches and chest pains. Also, an organized workspace is more conducive to productivity and it looks good when you have visitors.

These are but a few of the many qualities and skills you will need to successfully run your business. As with life, never feel you have learned it all. There will always be new things to learn. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep moving forward. As long as you dress your business for success it will continue to grow.


Candice A. Walker

Small Business Consultant at PDQ Workplace Solutions; Writer; Author