Keeping up appearances for home-based businesses

Keeping up appearances for home-based businesses

Appearances matter. You, as an individual, are judged by your appearance. The way you look, the way you carry yourself and the way your dress can significantly affect your chances in the business world. In fact, according to a study by the University of Florida, tall people get paid more – two equally skilled employees could have a yearly pay differential of almost $5,000 because of a 6-inch height differential. Obese workers can earn over $8,000 less per year than an employee with a Body Mass Index of 25 or less, according to George Washington University. According to a study funded by Procter & Gamble, women who wear makeup can be paid up to 30% more. In other words, it can be impossible to avoid rash judgements in the professional world – and it is even more difficult to prove discrimination in those specific cases. It should come as a surprise to know that the importance of appearances also affect the way potential clients perceive your home-based business. Here are crucial mistakes to avoid when you work from home.

Your premises matter, but not like you think

Business owners know that the way their premises look can affect the quality of their team output. A messy desk and office can make it tricky for your employees to maintain their focus. Additionally, when you receive visitors, you want to make the best possible impression. Needless to say that a good impression doesn’t start with a desk covered in loose paper. What does it matter to have a spotless office when you work from home? Because this can affects your productivity and the quality of your work too. Therefore, it’s essential to introduce a routine, such as using the last 5 minutes of the day to tidy up your desk, for instance. You may not be in a position to hire a cleaning team, but you can certainly take the time to deep clean your home office flor and desk every few days. It’s hard to stay concentrated when the dust accumulates on the bookshelves!

No, a mobile number is not acceptable

When you work from home, it can be tempting to give your mobile number to potential clients, or even to publish it on your website. In reality, your mobile number can be included in your signature at the bottom of your email, but it should be the first mean of contact for all your leads. If you don’t want to use your landline, you can look into 1300 numbers options, which would make your home-based business look more professional. Additionally, if you choose to work with a professional receptionist service too, you can ensure that calls are filtered accordingly to your needs. Existing clients can be passed on to you, while leads and marketing calls can be handled by your receptionist.

Giving your personal address? Are you mad?

The last thing you want, when you work from home, is to share your personal home address on your website. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, you have a right to maintain your privacy; publishing your home address could put you and your family at risk. Additionally, potential clients can enter the address ina mapping interface – Google Maps comes to mind, but there are other solutions – and be put off by the discovery that your business is based in a residential estate. Consequently, it’s recommended for home-based businesses to use a virtual address with a mail-forwarding function, or to use a rented physical address with or without mail forward. Renting an office in town can provide you with a meeting space when you meet clients.

Taking pictures like a pro

If like many freelancers and independent specialists you are relying on your social media presence to attract your audience, you need to know how to create a professional-looking presence. There is no room for personal venting on your social media platforms. You need to provide quality content for your audience. Additionally, you can’t afford to publish on visual platforms such as Instagram or even Facebook – if you have a Facebook page – if you can’t take quality photos. For Instagram, you need to consider the overall aesthetic of the grid, as your photos can be seen both as a mosaic and as individual items. The aesthetic needs to showcase your brand and personality. Using a tool such as Schedugram helps you to plan your posts accordingly.

We vs I – Which one are you?

Last, but not least, most freelancers worry about using ‘we’ or ‘i’ on their websites. There is no easy solution. We creates a corporate feeling, but it’s likely to confuse your clients. I builds up a personal approach but can make you appear less professional.

Home-based businesses are confronted with the challenge of maintaining a professional front without using typical workplace settings. It’s a learning process you need to develop with your market and your audience.


Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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