Anyone in home based business, except perhaps former US Marines Coldstream Guards or others trained to be 150% disciplined in everything they do, knows that it’s very easy to slip into lazy habits when you work from home. I can dress as I please if I’m working from home, right? Well, up to a point.
I think most home based bizoids would agree that, while being a slob might be ok on the weekends, it’s not a good mode of operation when you are running a business from home, any more than it would be in a business more in the public eye.
Not that I hold with the home based business ‘experts’ who suggest or recommend you get ‘dressed up’ in the morning as if you were going to work in a traditional office. Suit and tie – or dress for the women who prefer that – polished shoes, etc.
Give me a break! One of the best things about working from home is that you don’t have to go in for all that ‘business uniform’ (armor?) stuff.
So then the reality is that if you’re not planning to go out to a business function, or to meet a client either elsewhere or at home, it’s especially easy as the working day starts to just grab the nearest t-shirt (for some men, maybe even just picking one up off the floor, sniffing it to see if there is another day’s wear in it) and a reasonably clean pair of shorts. No one’s watching, who cares? goes the thinking.
But in a very real sense, we are watching ourselves, even if we aren’t doing that consciously. And our behaviour can mirror our thinking – slob habits, slob thinking. Not a good way to run a business.
And if you’re having clients or business associates come to your place for business meetings, I do think it’s a smart move to dress up a bit. Unless you want to make them uncomfortable – envious? – as they sit there all dressed up and you look like you’ve just come from the beach? Maybe need to get your kicks some other way J
In fact I remember an occasion, when I was still working in a government agency, going to visit a home based business person (in the days when that was, or seemed to be, really unusual) and being a bit put off by the fact that the guy was literally in t-shirt and shorts (and his vagueness and lack of focus seemed to reflect that!). It put me off. So go a bit in the visitor’s direction and dress up a bit – if you wish you can change into something more comfortable when they leave.
Hey, a lot of us have given up great jobs, with excellent salaries and other perks, to be home based entrepreneurs. One of the rewards of that sacrifice is to not have to conform to some corporation’s view of what constitutes appropriate dress for business.
So I’m all in favor of dressing casual for home based business. At the same time, there is no question in my mind that to be successful in home based business, as in any business, you must have good habits and exercise discipline in how you work from day to day. Dressing for the part is an easy and appropriate element of that. And how you dress doesn’t have to mimic how people are encouraged or forced to dress in the corporate or big organization world.
So today I ironed a t-shirt and shorts. A clean t-shirt, with a collar (not too laid back, you understand) and clean shorts. And not just any t-shirt: I selected one with the Coachville School of Small Business Coaching logo, because that could help remind me of what I do, which is coach entrepreneurs and owners of small business in how to achieve success faster and with more balance and joy on the way to that success. (I generally avoid t-shirts with logos, but I like this one because I like the association, and am not particularly a nologo Naomi fan).
Shoes? No. This is a ‘shoes off please’ house and when I go out to go to the post office or the bank I can put on some sandals.
How has my little ironing burst affected the way I’ve approached the day? Well, I have to say I feel more businesslike and have tackled the day’s business more confidently and with more focus. I’m not saying that’s because I ironed the t-shirt and shorts, but I do believe it helped. And it took about 2 minutes. No brainer.
Update: more than two years on, April 13, 2007, I’m still ironing – and inviting other opinions.