How to ‘look the part’ when you’re just starting out

Sam McKeith

No one ever said running a start-up was easy, particularly in those early days, weeks and months of long hours and little reward.

Indeed, for many entrepreneurs starting out it can be tough just to look the part, especially if you’re working from home – or from a laptop at your local café.

Luckily, Business coach, Jon Dale, of Small Fish Business Coaching says there’s no magic to making sure you look legit, even at the most hectic or cash-strapped of times.

The NSW-based coach, who works exclusively with start-ups and SMEs, says just because you’re fresh, it doesn’t mean you have to look any less pro than your more established competitors.

First thing, Dale says, is to realise the stigma associated with working from home is gone. He says the internet has made that a thing of the past, with many high-level entrepreneurs ditching expensive office set-ups for the flexibility and affordability of a home office.

That means there’s no need to feel embarrassed about meeting clients at cafés, he says, noting that you can always rent office space temporarily if you do need to impress someone with a more “established” look.

Another big tip, Dale says, is to make your company’s website a priority.

"Just because you’re fresh, it doesn’t mean you have to look any less pro than your more established competitors."

“You can appear bigger than you are,” Dale tells ShortPress. “This can give the impression that you’re actually quite established.”

He says a common mistake start-ups make is not spending enough on website design to ensure their site is comparable in quality to bigger industry players.

Again, he says it’s is about presenting a façade that puts you on a level playing field with bigger firms when someone types your company name into Google.

“Eight thousand dollars is not that much in the whole scheme or things … a $1000 website is just not the same,” Dale says.

He also advises start-ups to spend money on brand logo and name, urging clients he works with to make sure they “hire a decent marketing agency.”

And of course, if your brand has to look good – so do you.

Dale says while a suit may not be needed for those working in, say, creative industries, your attire should still make an impression.

“Wear nice clothes and nice shoes, make sure your attire is appropriate,” he adds.

However, when it comes down to it, Dale says it takes more than a sharp outfit to run a successful start-up, urging solid business planning.

“Make a plan and write it down.”  

Sam McKeith

Sam McKeith is Sydney-based media professional. He has contributed to many leading publications including The Huffington Post, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW Magazine. He was previously a senior reporter at the Australian Associated Press where he covered national affairs.

Image: Jonathan Mueller, Flickr Creative Commons License