Leadership

How To Keep Your Identity In Business

We all have the right to express ourselves through fashion. How do we stay true to who we are without turning off potential clients? Let’s talk about how to keep your identity in business.  

tutuWe all cannot fit into one box. What works for someone else may not work for you. What if you’re a person who likes to add a little frosting of green to your hair? What if your idea of work attire is blue jeans and a baseball cap?

As entrepreneurs, we have the right to set our company’s standards. We all want to be true to ourselves, but how do we make sure our style of business does not discount us when trying to work with others who have a different manner of doing things? It’s all about compromise. Here’s how to keep your identity in business.

Find your niche.

If you head a funky copywriting firm with an edgy office, tatted interns and you never leave the house without your nose ring, find clients who dig that vibe. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find traditional corporate clients who think you do great work; it means that working together may be more difficult.

If you can’t get a meeting because they don’t understand your brand, is it really worth the wasted time in trying to justify your image?  Find clients and connections who get it. If you get enough good work under your belt that speaks for itself, those stuffy corporations may start seeking you out or will begin to take your proposals more seriously.

If it’s not a part of your brand, lose it.

We understand that you want to rock the pink Nicki Minaj-like wig your husband bought you at the fair. And yes, you do own the company and it does look killer with your green eyes. However, you might want to leave the wig at home for your business meeting on Monday morning. Pick and choose your battles. It doesn’t make you a sell-out to dress a little more subtle for new client meetings. If that wig doesn’t have a thing to do with your pitch, ditch it.

The same goes for your laidback weekly blue jeans and baseball cap attire. Your first impression can be your last impression so put your best foot forward. Keep the jeans and add a nice blazer. You can always put on your favorite Bruins cap when you get back to the comfort of your office. You are a walking advertisement for your company. What do you want your ad to say? Ask yourself that each time you go into your closet.

Dress to be a reflection of your company.

What does your look say about you and your company? When I was 19 I made the decision to get a gold tooth while on vacation in my mother’s home country Guyana. By then it had become a tradition in my family. My two older brothers already had them, some of my aunts, uncles and cousins and getting it done made sense.

But I was worried that others outside of my familial circle would make pre-judgments about me. After thinking it through, the personal sentiment meant more to me and I went ahead with the dental procedure against my regular dentists’ protests. My teeth were finally straight after years of braces and she was not thrilled at the idea of me going to an unknown South American dentist. Whenever I meet someone new, their eyes immediately go to my mouth. Ask anyone who knows me well if they still notice my gold tooth and they will probably say no, because they’ve gotten used to it. It’s simply a part of Natasha.

While my tooth does not speak volumes about who I am, it does tell a small part of my story and hopefully gives a flash of my personality. Discovering what part of your story you want to visibly share up front is up to you. Think of some of the people in your business circles. Some are known for their impeccable style, some for their remarkable tresses, and others for their shoe game or wacky fingernails. Make sure the impression you’re leaving is one you can live with and defend if you need to.

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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