When you become self-employed you have a choice to make about how you want your company and brand to be perceived. As an employee you will have always been expected to behave a certain way, provide a certain level of service or even complete tasks in the way that your employer wanted.
There have been times since running my business that I have felt totally disorganised, unprofessional and downright tardy – however even in those times I have been astonished to find that my clients have thought I am doing a great job.
For example last week, I had a brief (and in my opinion rather rushed on my part with two girls dancing, singing and fighting in the background) conversation with a member of my networking group on Facebook messenger – reading the messages back I could have said a lot more! The next day we had a consult over the phone whilst I was sat in my joggers as I was having a catching up day at my desk. Following on from both of these she shared a post in our group about professionalism and how excited she was to be working me as a professional – how shocked was I when I thought I could have done better!
So how do you ensure that you always come across as a professional?
- If you say you will do something then do it (and make sure you deliver it on time and within budget)
- If you have a meeting via phone, skype or in person be on time (in fact arrive early! – ok that’s just me)
- Have systems in place – for example I have specific tasks I complete when I take on a new client and I work through these to ensure I have all the information I need prior to commencing work
- Have email templates so that you can always have a professional response to your most common questions and aren’t having to re-write the content time and again
- Always be honest – if something has happened and your work will be delayed or not to your usual standard explain why – most clients will understand if you explain if you don’t it will damage your professionalism
For me when I started out I didn’t really think about any of this – I have just been myself and because of who I am it has all happened over time. The one I find hardest is no.5 – if I have a sick child I worry about what my clients will think – however in reality they have always been understanding and have appreciated my honesty – which of course has built my reputation and allowed me to continue to be seen as a professional.
This is how I ensure I keep up my professionalism and meet the standards I have set my company:
- I use a task management system to help me plan my work
- I put appointments in my diary and set reminders 10 – 30 minutes in advance depending on whether or not the meeting is face-to-face
- When I have a new process – I note down the main tasks so that I can build a full process to follow next time
- I Keep copies of standard emails so that I can use them as templates
Hope these tips have helped you think about how you can be more professional in your business – I’d love to hear about how you are implementing professionalism in your company so why not share your tips below.