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Professionalism is crucial in small business. It will directly impress those that are going to make the decisions to keep your business running. Essentially, those that pay you need to view you as a professional business owner they can trust to successfully drive results for them. 

Incorporating an efficient shelving and storage system solution for products, putting effort into physical appearance as well as curating a professional online presence will all have an impact on the impression you leave. Your goal is to leave a lasting impression for everyone that comes in contact with your business. 

It’s important to remember that the improvements may not be instantaneous.  You won’t be able to make a large amount of changes instantly as each step takes effort, and you are only human. Take it step by step. You may want to start out with your workplace storage system then personal wardrobe and online presence. The element which may take the longest to improve is interpersonal skills when you interact with people. 

Whether you want to improve confidence or become more knowledgeable in your sector, there is no switch on button. Practice makes perfect. Public speaking and business classes and forums, keeping up to date on your industry and additional self-teaching are all tactics that will help. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different elements you need to incorporate to come across professionally… 

Maintain an organised workplace

When guests walk into your workplace, they will instantly generate a first impression, subconsciously. If your workplace is messy and dirty, it will lessen their view on you as a professional business. If you can’t maintain your workspace, how can you maintain projects? Even if the work you create is exceptional. To be professional, means to be organised and show that you’re organised in all aspects, even the portrayal of your workplace.

For business owners who are messy people naturally, there’s no need to stress. Workplaces don’t need to be perfect, just professional. Hire cleaners and assign organised employees tasks to keep the area tidy. Assign areas for certain items so there is intention behind placement. It will mean less stress for you. Work smarter, not harder. 

In addition, you’ve probably heard the phrase – cluttered workplace, cluttered mind. Your employees, and yourself, will be more productive when your environment is clutter-free.

Implement storage solutions 

There needs to be a business storage system in place or it will simply be impossible to maintain a tidy, professional and productive workplace. Analyze your current set up now and if there aren’t already suitable storage shelves, filing cabinets and storage boxes then you will need to invest in these. 

Whether your business’ workplace consists of a retail building, an office, garage or  industrial warehouse, the correct storage solution for your business will be unique to your industry and space. Heavy duty items will require pallet racking, while smaller items may require shelving and storage bins. When choosing your storage, ensure you are future proofing the space. For instance, if you are planning to grow exponentially, don’t opt for permanent fixtures that limit your space. 

Many businesses may face small-space challenges. Fortunately, storage businesses are aware of this and offer customised height and width solutions. To utilise space, opt for shelving that reaches the roof and use a stepping stool to reach higher items. The key is to use a combination of storage products. Cabinets underneath  desks are perfect for each employee’s belongings but can also store additional stationary and items that are used more often. If your business needs to store paper items, tall filing cabinets will be suitable. Strategically plan your  layout to make use of all space. 

Industrial and warehouse storage shelving and pallet racking

For those businesses that store large quantities of goods, storing these items in an efficient way not only presents a professional business environment to guests or clients, but it improves efficiency dramatically. Employees can get work done faster because they can easily access items. 

Pallet racking or racks are used to store and stack large heavy duty items. They keep your warehouse or industrial building tidy but also mean you can utilise small spaces. Usually consisting of steel beams sticking out from a racking system frame, a forklift is used to move items. 

For your smaller items, simple industrial steel warehouse shelving is a suitable option. Strategically organising items in labelled storage bins slotted into the shelves will see employees saving time daily by instinctively putting things back in their designated place and then retrieving them when the items are needed. 

Both types of shelving are of strong, durable steel and therefore, this option is the most cost-effective storage solution for businesses comprising warehouses or industrial locations. The easily accessible inventory and the time saved will mean employees get more work done in their allocated work shift. A key element of successful business is improving and streamlining processes to reduce the number of employees required to undertake a set job. 

In addition to this, impressions are crucial when it comes to convincing potential customers or clients to become long standing customers. It’s simple – if they are impressed with what they see, they are more likely to trust what you offer.

Read the room 

Now as a business owner, you’ll be aware of how it’s crucial to be polite in all circumstances. One skill you need as a successful business owner is to read the room in social situations. Take on board how your employees are feeling and respond accordingly. Take on board what both employees and clients and consumers and again, respond accordingly. 

For example, if a client comes across uninterested in part of a project, don’t continue to push it and speak on the subject every time you meet. This will simply encourage them to avoid even speaking with you. 

Or, if an employee is visibly stressed, don’t continually speak about the workload throughout the day. Calm them down by saying you’ll get through this – you’re on track. Bring up the next steps on another day when they are less stressed.

Your people skills will grow the longer you’re in business and it’s one of those elements where it takes practice. On a positive note, reading the room will format positive relationships and create a calmer, happier workplace. Win, win.

Generate a professional response to challenges.

Whether they be interpersonal challenges, project challenges or technological challenges, every business will encounter them. It can be easy to become stressed and act irrationally due to said stress, however, as a business owner, you  need  to learn how to respond professionally. Generating the wrong response can in fact result in destruction of the business.

Psychological research shows every person generates their own coping mechanism to stress. Learn what helps you the most so you can respond to challenges in a professional manner. It may be as simple as breathing techniques, taking a break or communicating with the team to problem-solve the issues. Team work makes the dream work. 

Ensure your online presence is professional

Online presence can either make or break a business. In the digital era, consumers and clients can dive deep into both your personal and business life with a click of a button. Even if you posted an inappropriate status on your personal Facebook five years ago, it may appear near the top under the “posts” tab when they search  your name. As the searcher isn’t your Facebook friend, old posts will appear. That’s why it’s crucial to delete and make your profile as private as can be. 

Ensure you are consistently professional across all platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, because you will lose out on potential consumers and existing consumers if they see a post they don’t agree with. Put your public relations hat on with anything you post in the here and now. If it can be deemed ever so slightly in a negative light, do not risk it. Rule of thumb is to not post anything political or use a play on words for serious topics because it can be taken in the wrong way. 

Remember, even if you have profiles as private, it is a small world, meaning the post will get around through word of mouth.

Curate a work wardrobe 

Before you can even prove that your business skills will benefit your client or consumer, they will see how you present yourself on the outside. Showing up to meetings at the initiation stage with unfitted, sloppy, stained clothing will look like a physical representation of the low effort you’ll put into the project. That’s exactly how the client or consumer will view it. And that’s the opinion that matters the most. 

A curated wardrobe essentially means you only have pieces you love and they are perfectly suited to you. They usually consist of higher-quality items that will last years. Each item curates your style so people know you as having a signature style. 

To curate the correct way, you should begin by culling your initial wardrobe.  This means to allocate a set amount of time dedicated to sorting through and creating “sell” and “donate” piles. If they no longer make you feel incredible, they should go. 

After this, look at the gaps in your wardrobe. If it looks like you need to replace items straight away, keep a hold of those items from the piles, until you have found the perfect replacement. Simply disposing instantly and buying replacements all at once will most likely result in you rushing to purchase items you aren’t necessarily going to love and wear for a long time. You will then need to replace, costing you an arm and a leg – and the cycle continues. 

From here, it’s important not to just jump out of bed and rush to head into work looking like you rolled out of bed. Dress according to the day’s scenario, whether it’s office attire, casual, or in-between. Put pride into your hair, looking and smelling clean. The last thing you want is for potential clients to leave thinking you looked rough. This will instinctively encourage them to go elsewhere.

Professionalism is critical for the survival of businesses. In the initial stages of owning a business, you can feel pressure to have everything perfect and that’s expectedly stressful. 

Implementing an effective storage solution to enable a tidy workplace or industrial warehouse, and presenting both your physical and personal self professionally will draw in new customers. Industrial warehouse shelving, filing cabinets, storage bins, industrial pallet racking are all storage systems you can opt for.

Perfection isn’t the goal here. People know you’re human and humans aren’t perfect. It’s important to remind yourself of this so it doesn’t get overwhelming. 

Over a period of time, you will get into a rhythm where professionalism will feel like second nature. Put these tips on board and you will flourish.
Olivia Fairhurst is a business owner and content manager for various clients, including StackIt. Olivia studied a degree in communications, majoring in journalism and has past experience as a journalist and Senior PR executive. You can find Olivia on Instagram, here.

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