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7 Ways To Boost Your Self-Image

Apr 19, 2008
In starting a small business it's important to project a certain image to the world, but equally important to perceive ourselves at a high level. Here are ways to make you exude confidence about yourself and your business.

1. Incorporate or form an LLC.

When starting a small business, I was advised to incorporate for various tax reasons, but also because having a business entity would elevate my credibility -- in my own eyes as much as anyone else's. It turned out to be wise counsel because indeed that has been my experience. Having "Inc." or "LLC" after your business name projects professionalism and purpose. It also helps to boost your image if you are signing binding contracts with individuals or other businesses.

2. Hire professionals to design your marketing materials and website.

When you're out in the world you only get one chance to make that first impression. Don't let your business cards, letterhead or website reflect anything other than high-quality design and feel.

Here's why. One time I met someone at a networking event with whom I wanted to do business. When she handed me her brochure -- printed from a home printer, and business cards, perforated, home-printed -- I inwardly cringed, knowing I could not refer and recommend her 100% because she had not put 100% into her marketing materials. Her cards told me she cut corners, she was cheap, and she was bordering on unprofessional.

Also be careful using Vistaprint and other marketing tools. While you may be able to produce some quality items, you will not look original or polished unless you have your cards custom-designed. (I know because I have made this mistake myself and it affected my confidence level when I was handing out my card. When you create a marketing piece, ask yourself: If this were the only impression they ever got, is it good enough?

3. Join an organization, raise your credibility and increase your contacts.

Memberships do have their privileges. When you join an organization and start showing up regularly, people start to trust you. And once they trust you, they might just do business with you and send others to you as well.

You'll also expand your network this way. The more people you know, the more people know you. As I heard someone say recently, "You want to be 'top of mind' for other people. If you're out of sight, you're out of mind." So show up and get involved.

4. Say with pride: "I work from home!"

Yes, it's okay to look small! Don't be ashamed because you have a home office and it's only you, your spouse, a couple of kids and a cat working the business. I used to pretend I was bigger than I was and only admitted to having a home office if someone asked me point blank.

It may be that times have changed a little and working from home is no longer met with such skepticism -- but it may be tempting at times to pretend you're bigger than you are in order to impress and prospect. Don't do it! Just be genuine. Never forget how much you love working from home and don't be afraid to share that joy with others.

5. Have someone else create your voice message.

This may seem counter to the point I just made but the reason for having someone else do your message is to further enhance your own feeling of being "recognized" by a third party as a professional. Never mind that it was your sister's voice! Or your old friend visiting from the UK. Having someone else say your name and your business name is a projection of you and an endorsement of sorts.

6. Establish yourself as an expert -- on and offline.

The minute you stop trying to sell your service or product -- and start emphasizing what it is you're good at, is when your business will become fun and will likely take off. So decide what it is that makes you such a smarty pants.

Are you a financial whiz? Then show up and educate people about finances. Are you sharp with design? Then share with people what you know about design. Do you have the best darn vitamins on the market? Then teach people about how vitamins work and why we need them.

Be exceptional. Be an expert! Give free presentations at your local library or chamber of commerce. Partner with complementary businesses. Establish yourself as one who knows something about something. You get to decide what it is you're an expert in -- and people will come to know that about you -- and buy from you as a result.

7. Write your bio, keep it fresh.

A lot of people have a hard time talking about themselves, but let me tell you this -- if you want to make money you'd better start talking!

You can begin the written conversation about yourself by answering questions such as: Who you are, what you do, what benefit you provide, what else you've done, your outside interests, affiliations, associations, etc.

Of course if you can write this in a lively, conversational tone, even better.

You'll need your bio for your website, for speaking engagements if you do them, and for organizations you join. Plus it boosts your image -- of course when you see all that you've accomplished actually written down, you'll probably impress yourself.
About the Author
After multiple layoffs Kennerly launched her first business in 2001, determined to decide for herself when she would go to work each day, how much vacation she would get and how much money she would make. She now helps others recognize the entrepreneur within and launch their own home businesses. Read her personal advice and tips here .
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