Maintaining Professionalism in Your Home Business

When you work from home, projecting a professional image is especially important.

As someone who works from home, there are days that I don’t actually change out of my pajamas or workout clothes until lunch time. Indeed, like many other moms in my neighborhood, I’ve got my pajamas on as I drive my son to school. After all, do I really need to get dressed when no one (except maybe the UPS delivery driver) is going to see me?

Even if I’m not wearing professional clothes, I do try to maintain some level of professionalism in my interactions. I try to keep my business emails business-like, and I do my best to speak in a professional manner over the telephone (although I’m really not at my best when I’m on the phone). You want to be professional so that clients and partners don’t become concerned about the fact that you are operating a business out of your home.

Ways to Preserve Professionalism in Your Home Business

It’s true that getting dressed can help. When I am dressed, I feel ready for the day, and it’s easier to shift into “professional mode.” The way I speak, even over the phone, is different when I feel polished.

Even if I don’t get dressed very early in the day on a regular basis, though, I do make an effort if I am going to be participating in a video conference. Anytime my image is going somewhere, I want to make sure that I present a professional front. Here are some other ways you can project a professional image, even though you work from home:

  • Keep what others see clutter-free: If you create videos, or if you engage in video chats or conference calls, make sure that what others see is clutter-free. Clean up the area behind you so that it is neat. If you place your credentials on the wall, or have a few attractive books behind you, it can enhance your professional image.
  • Schedule interviews and meetings for times when the kids are gone: I do my best to schedule interviews with subjects, as well as meetings with clients, when my son is at school, and my husband is out of the house. It doesn’t help my professional image if my son is in the background of the telephone call, asking if he can have a friend over, or jumping around in the view of a camera during a video chat. Pay attention to timing, and try to schedule communication with others when you can be a quiet area.
  • Conduct in-person meetings off site: As a home business owner, I don’t like the idea of someone coming to my home for a meeting — and not just because I’d have to tidy up a bit. In-person meetings can be held in a neutral location, such as a restaurant of conference room. There are co-work locations that provide private conference rooms for presentation purposes, and there is nothing wrong with discussing business over lunch. You might even get a tax deduction out of it.

Being able to project a professional, capable image is important. As a home business owner, you might have to work a little harder to maintain that image. With a little planning and effort, though, you should have no problem maintaining a professional demeanor, even if most of the work you do happens while you are wearing your pajamas.

Image source: Tidewater Muse via Flickr

Written by Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger, specializing in personal finance, small business, and investing topics. She writes for a number of financial web sites and blogs, and has been featured in numerous media. Read about life as a freelancer at MirandaMarquit.com and in her book Confessions of a Professional Blogger.

4 Responses to Maintaining Professionalism in Your Home Business

  1. Fantastic tips Miranda. I really think the kid interruptions are big, as is being neat when you are visible. And yes, don’t meet folks @ your home.

    Great post!

    • Miranda Marquit says:

      Thanks! Yeah, I cringe at the idea of having a business meeting at my house. Where are going to sit? The kitchen table? ;)

  2. Geoff says:

    Hey Miranda, You remind me a lot of…..me! I work from home… most of the time in my pajamas too. But I’m in a client services role and maintaining professionalism is critical. I rarely let customers or colleagues see “behind the curtain”. What surprises me though is how some folks I interact with leave their curtains wide open! I just want to tell them, “you’re sharing too much, keep that too yourself or you’ll lose business!”

    • Miranda Marquit says:

      With the way that our society and culture are moving, it seems that few people understand professionalism. And, while the Internet provides a lot of opportunities, it also seems to lead to the idea that it’s ok to share everything with everyone. You’re right that it’s often a case of TMI.

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