Image Consulting for Entrepreneurs

1st Apr 2012
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We all would largely agree that our actions make us who we are. It’s an extension of our thoughts and values. Just like our behavior has a bearing on how we are perceived by people around us, so does our image. How we represent ourselves optimally impacts our first impression. In today’s world, it is imperative that our capabilities are well projected and are consistent across three large paradigms: Appearance, Behavior and Communication.Every entrepreneur nurtures an idea close to his/her heart. It’s a dream they provide structure to, feed it with values and vision and cultivates it into a value system they believe in. What most of them often overlook is, during this journey of actualization, they are the dream they envisioned, and they are the values they have attached to the venture. One needs to be consistent across. Are they in solidity with each other?

An entrepreneur with a start up idea in mind needs to be able to impress credibility on his/her perspective clients and investors. He/she should be able to inspire trust in others. Hence, a question they need to ask themselves is, is it worth their while to put in this effort to be consistent, is it worth their while to impress correctly upon the environment that encompasses them. A venture capitalist meets many an aspiring entrepreneurs in their everyday interactions. How is that you can create that lasting impression. Simple. Be your brand. Be your values. And here is how. Personal Branding!

As an entrepreneur, you are the living embodiment of your venture. The first level of trust in your idea can be built by projecting the right message. In no way am I suggesting that adorning an expensive suit or wearing make up will do the task. You need to introspect and question yourself about what is it that your venture aspires to be. Is it creative in nature, it is purely white collared; it is for the masses or is it niche. The reason I request you to probe into these questions is simple: A creative man looks stifled in a structured suit and an investment banker does not adorn a beach shirt EVER! Your nature of work becomes you! Hence, coming back to my previous question, are you your brand?

It is important to note that every person chooses a line of business which is not only profitable in the long run but is in line with your passion and inherit personality. Thus, it is imperative that your personality merges and converges with your venture.

Below are some tips and suggestions on how an entrepreneur should go about conducting themselves in meeting to be able to strike the right cord with his/her audience:

1)   When setting up a meeting, make sure you have all our facts in place. Competitor analysis, market research, feasibility study, growth plan et al. Nothing creates a worse impact than an entrepreneur who is unable to analyze the environment in its entirety and be able to give a precise answer to any questions sent his/her way.

2)   Always dress to project your brand. Do not underplay or overplay. Nothing kills the first impression faster than an interaction that does not inspires trust.

3)   Before going out in the market, make sure you have all the gaps filled well. Have your website in place and keep a track on downtime. When sending e-mailer, do not spam. Make your content relevant to your audience. You do not want them to auto direct them all to junk mail in future.

4)   Be ready with an elevation speech. A 2-line introduction about your identity and what is it that you intend on doing.

5)   During a networking event, refrain from doing all the talking. Listen! Hear what people are doing, ask them interesting question. This will help you develop a better elevation speech, when introducing your idea to the listener.

6)   When developing a pitch, keep in mind the interest of the party in hand. Is it a prospective client or is it an investor. The details to be dealt out to the two are very different and it is necessary that you segregate the two. Do not confuse one for the other.

7)   When developing collaterals for your brand, keep in mind the core essence of your idea. This encompasses the colors you use, the designs in the material as well as the font. Synchronize them all to be able to depict the correct message.

Hence, as an entrepreneur, you are to keep a track on every message that you sent out. Be it in terms of your emails, your telephonic conversation, the way you present yourself or the brand logo. Consistency is the key word!

Guest Author: Sheena Agarwal

Sheena Agarwal is a Certified Image and Professional Consultant from London Image Institute & Academy of Image Mastery. Leaving a lucrative career with Goldman Sachs, Sheena opted to make a career in image consultation, thus starting Urbanista.

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