It’s your first serious job interview. You spend the week leading up to the big day polishing your shoes, buying a new shirt, ironing out the creases in your suit pants and arrive at least half an hour early. Put simply, you want to look your best.
We all know that first impressions count – it’s important to present the right image. It’s professionalism 101. So why do so many entrepreneurs lack this meticulous attention to detail?
Some of the best startup concepts fail to gain funding or traction from customers simply because the entrepreneur behind them doesn’t do enough to present the opportunity in the best light. As a result, the buyer, venture capitalist or distributor sitting across the table doesn’t warm to the idea and it falls over. I learnt this lesson the hard way.
You may be the smartest candidate for the position, with the most suitable experience, or be pitching the most brilliant idea, but if you turn up to an interview in shorts and a t-shirt, you’re definitely not going to get a proper hearing. It is an unfortunate reality that many entrepreneurs believe that their ideas alone will get them across the line.
Although I am not going to sit here and preach about how to run a business meeting, or how to pitch an idea, there are a few things that can make you, and your company, look like it has the capability to cope with a multimillion dollar customer, even if you are still operating out of your Dad’s back shed.
One of the most influential pieces of advice I read before we started Australis Foods was from Bill Rancic, the winner of the first season of The Apprentice in America. With his cigar startup, he would put people on hold and transfer them between departments, using different voices along the way to make the impression his company was bigger than it actually was. He was making himself look like multinational enterprise and it worked. Sales grew rapidly.
Thankfully, we live in an era where implementing simple things – such as business cards, establishing websites and organising virtual office space – has not only become easier but it is also cost-effective. This again seems like business 101, but it is overlooked far too often.
As much as we would all love to fully immerse ourselves in our newest idea immediately, we need to consider the impact on our company’s fortunes of not keeping our shoes polished.
So, what technologies or strategies do you use to make your company look bigger than it really is?
Neil Page is CEO of Australis Foods, one of Australia’s largest privately-owned industry-specific food manufacturers with operations in health food, wheat alternative and home baking products.