5 times when a start-up CEO should ‘Suit Up’


This is commonly said: Who you are is a collated outcome of (a) What you say (b) How you say it (c) What you are perceived as. Research has proven that an impression created in the first 30 seconds is indeed a lasting impression.

Stereotypes aside, it’s important to dress your role, specially where the opportunities to create an impression are rare and may move the needle for the organisation. As the CEO you do bear the burden of representing the organisation you have built ground up and lead it by example.

When you think start up, you may envision denim clad youngsters sprawled across beanbags working away on their laptops. The general perception is that at a startup what you wear doesn’t matter, but there may be times that it may. Here are five situations when you may want to ditch those jeans and flip-flops and don a more non casual/formal look:

Investor Meetings – This is truly an opportunity where you want to convey your personal brand and represent your company in the best possible manner. This is also an opportunity you want to ensure you appear like you are on top of things (which includes your business).

Client Meetings – If you are visiting clients for business development purposes you want them to belive that you take them seriously (any astute business person would). While it’s important to look like you can deliver it’s also important to have your own sense of style and not dress in a particular manner. While jeans and flip-flops worked for Mark Zuckerberg, we don’t see Sheryl Sandberg dressed like that.

Events and Conferences – Speaker opportunities and conference invitations come with the territory of being a part of a successful start-up. Everyone wants to hear your story and get to know you. It’s important to look as inspiring as you sound and well fit, smart formals go a long way in leaving a positive impression.

Hiring Senior Leadership- To be a successful CEO you need a strong core team. People you can rely on and who share the passion you have for your brand. Putting together the right team is probably one of the toughest challenges we entrepreneurs face. When interviewing a potential core team member, it’s best to be well turned out. You need to look like you mean business and nothing says that better than a smart set of formals.

Profile Pictures on Social Media – Everyone from potential employees and other start-up founders to investors are probably going through your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page. A profile picture of a smartly dressed, well turned out person will leave a positive first impression and convey that message that you mean business and are here to stay.

Having said this, your formals don’t have to be uncomfortable and therefore rarely worn. You can always figure brands that fit you well and therefore don’t just look good but make you feel comfortable. Remember, you represent your personal brand with not just your work but also the perception you inspire. How you carry yourself is critical to setting examples you would like your organisation to follow.


About the Author:

Nidhi Agarwal is CEO & Founder of KAARYAH Lifestyle Solutions, an apparel brand that caters to women’s non-casual western wear focussed on offering the best possible fit with it’s 18 sizes. Nidhi has over 15 years of experience in Strategy, New Technology Marketing and Finance. When she is not busy running KAARYAH Nidhi loves to travel and cook.


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