Do you think enough about your image? What you wear, how you decorate your office, where you take clients and the front page of your website is crucial in business, say the blackjack experts.

Do you know how long it takes to form an impression of someone? Three seconds. The process is purely subconscious, but once it’s happened it’s hard to turn around a first impression.

Retail and consumer behaviour expert, Kate Nightingale says many business owners don’t think about first impressions or their image enough.

“They create nice cards and a website but they turn up to a meeting looking completely different to the virtual image they’ve created,” she says. “How you look communicates a lot about a person – our subconscious mind registers even the tiniest details and uses them to form an internalised image of a person – there is no room for a mistake.

“A stain on your trousers, a creased shirt, mismatched colours, baggy eyes, they all say something about you and even if we don’t consciously notice it, our subconscious mind does.”

We’re not talking about just indulging in the latest fashion; a business image is created by everything – where you take clients, how your office is decorated and where it’s located, where you hold events, your website design, your business cards, the hotels you stay in – the list is endless.

“If your choice of meeting venue does not go with your brand, you’re projecting confusing information,” Kate says. “Consistency of communication is extremely important – if you confuse your clients this may have an effect on their trust in your abilities.”

For example, should a vegan company take clients to a steak house for lunch? Or should a creative company choose a restaurant chain with no character? No.

If you work from home, you may think your image doesn’t matter because no one can see you, but you’re wrong.

“Your image can have an effect on your emotions, thoughts and behaviour,” Kate says. “For example how you write emails, how effective or creative you are, and so on.”

Everything to do with your image can change the way you feel. Waking up in a rundown B&B with a shared bathroom before a big client meeting won’t make you feel like a winner – to aspire to success you need to project success.

Part of that is feeling happy and confident in yourself and your surroundings. A survey by AXA PPP Healthcare found that two-thirds of SMEs agreed that if employees started smiling more at work it would have a positive impact on business performance. But who can crack a smile when they’re sitting in a badly decorated office with no windows?

Invest in your business image, it motivates you, your employees and your clients making you more successful.

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