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Style & Credibility for Home Business

Home Business StyleYears ago, I entered the public speaking market. My first event was a homeschool convention at Salt Lake Community College and the second, the next day, another homeschool conference in the Salt Palace.

I was excited and anxious and untested. I prepared the best I knew how. And I bought a couple of nice dresses with jackets to wear — thinking that was the kind of thing people wore when they spoke to big audiences. (Aside, of course, from Steve Jobs, who thought jeans and turtle necks were the style of the day. Every day.)

When I got there, I seemed decidedly overdressed. The attendees were mostly moms, some with babes in arms, in very casual attire, with a sprinkling of dads, also in very casual attire. Still, being on stage seemed to indicate a more formal appearance.

As I wandered from class to class between my presentations, I noticed a number of other speakers. Most were dressed in accordance with the general population. It surprised me. I still remember one speaker, who donned jeans (“mom-jeans” to be exact), a tee shirt with a wrinkly open oxford over it, tennis shoes, and a wild, unkempt mane of hair.

Being my first conference, I thought quite a bit about it until a woman came up to me and said, “Your presentation was great. Thank you so much for dressing the part of a professional. Being homeschoolers does’t mean being slovenly!”

Working from home can make it easy to get sloppy. I work in slippers — always and without question. But I make a concerted effort to shower, dress, and fix my hair and makeup — just as I would if I was going to a job elsewhere. And I always wear a watch, so I can stay on track with my goals for the day.

You don’t have to wear Rolexes or a diamond encrusted Citizen Eco drive watches with stiletto heels to walk to your home office down the hall. But making yourself presentable and looking professional tends to go a long way. When we are dressed and ready for the day, we work harder. When we see others (particularly clients!) we look like we’re worth our fee. When we take our home businesses seriously, others will as well.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Jeremy April 4, 2012, 7:07 pm

    Do you think this even applies to a home business where you know you won’t see a single client during your day? My home business is marketing websites and running a blog. So I have been quite sloppy lately. I have been wondering if I would be any more productive if I did treat it much more like an office job where I needed to shower in the morning and get out of my pajamas.
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  • Alison Moore Smith April 4, 2012, 7:28 pm

    Jeremy, of course everyone is different. But I do think most people work more efficiently when they FEEL like it’s time to work instead of time to lounge and nap.

    And, hey, even if you don’t get out of your pajamas, at least take a shower! 😉
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  • Cristina April 5, 2012, 4:21 am

    I agree working from home makes it easy for you to get sloppy but this should not be the case. Personally, I feel more productive when I’m clean and wearing comfortable yet decent clothes while working at home. It just gives me the right mind set to get the job done and complete all my tasks for the day.

    – Cristina

  • Matt April 5, 2012, 4:21 pm

    I must agree with Alison here, I have seen my mom doing a virtual job since long and over the years she understand that business or virtual job should be taken seriously. If you made your own work room with table on and things in order you will feel like working and the level of productivity will increase amazingly.

  • Noah garlicguy April 7, 2012, 6:20 am

    I don’t see people a lot during my home buisness hours, all what I do is to lay down in my bed and write what I like, then I go get my self some tea and cuddle my dog!!
    In this regard, I think that I don’t need style, what I need is to focus more on credibility.
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  • Karen April 13, 2012, 12:59 am

    Hi Alison,

    I’m a work-at-home mom but I’m still very mindful of my appearance. I don’t wear make up but I make sure to take a shower before I sit down for work. I don’t want my husband to come home to a slovenly wife.
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  • Claudia April 18, 2012, 11:22 am

    I definitely find that I get more work done when I spend 15 or so minutes “getting ready” in the morning. I have to admit that I don’t always do it though. After all, one of the big plus points (for me at least) of working from home is sometimes working in bed – especially when it’s cold outside!
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  • Helen Michel April 21, 2012, 9:29 am

    Excellent and true!! Many home business owners claim that they are working in more comfortable environment while working in their slippers but I personally believe that your dressing can affect your productivity. Even at home, professional attire can increase your productivity and you can feel more attentive while wearing casual clothes make you feel lethargic. Even though, working at home is more than good but wearing proper attire is a better choice to make.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Noah, I’m guessing you don’t make a living with your blog. Am I right?

    More to the point, to me your description is depressing! Everyone like to sleep in once in a while and getting away from a stiff shirt and strangling tie or hose and heels appeals to a lot of us. But how many people would feel fulfilled lying in bed all day? Even cuddling a dog?

    There is so much to do and see and so many ways to serve. Get up, man! See the world and, more importantly, the people in it! 🙂

  • Nina Richardson May 25, 2012, 2:25 am

    I am very inspired on your vision of simplicity while making your money worth for! It seems that you are very well disciplined in terms of financial discipline and mentally healthy. I really adore your simplifications in life. Keep it up!

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