How Successful Should You Look?

2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Here’s something to think about if you’re a small business owner: Should you display the trappings of success (luxury car, expensive clothes, Rolex on your wrist, etc.) to your clients/customers so that they know you’re very good at what you do and therefore successful, or, always present a portrait of modesty and restraint (well-used family sedan, business casual from Target, digital watch, etc.) to your customers/clients so that they think you’re not making a bunch of money on them?

That’s a tough one, right?

Okay, while you’re thinking about that angle, now do this: Substitute “your employees” for “clients/customers”.

Is the answer the same or different?

Yes, both variations of that question pose a dilemma for the small business owner.

Regarding clients and customers, most salespeople, or people who have jobs where there’s a large selling component to it, will come down solidly on the side of “Always look successful. If you look successful, people will have more confidence in you and be more likely to sign up with you”.

On the other hand, many business owners, for different reasons, would not want their customers to see them piloting a new Mercedes-Benz. Chief among those reasons is the aforementioned, “If my customer sees me driving that car, he’s going to think I must be charging too much”. And then there’s also the, “He’s going to think I’m imprudent and not careful with money if he sees me in a new ‘Benz”. And, “He’s probably thinking I’m showing off by driving this car”.

What message is received by your employees when they see you in an expensive new car? Do they resent you? Do they feel as if you’re made your money off the backs of your low-wage employees and there’s a lot of inequity at the company? Does it dredge up a lot of feelings about how badly the employees are treated, and how much the owners make by continuing to treat the employees badly?

Or, does it give them something to strive for?

The question of appearance and the perceptions that result from what you show to the world is worth considering carefully, both for the sake of your revenues and in terms of employee morale. An error in judgment could cost you plenty.

4 thoughts on “How Successful Should You Look?

  1. Arun Sareen wrote:

    If you deal with decision makers that are spending their own money don’t show off…especially in a tight economy.

    If you are dealing with employees that are decision makers …ddepends on what level they are at.

  2. khalid wrote:

    When you are closing a deal whether it is a sale or a merger or a partnership, you better look very successful. It makes things easier in terms of mutual respect and the other person taking you seriously.

  3. Larry wrote:

    The intriguing part of this question is the part that has to do with how your employees see you. We can all figure out the part about customers, but its relevant to think about how your employees feel when you’re driving that new Porsche.

  4. sneaky sneakers wrote:

    If you look like you can’t rub two nickels together, no one’s going to do anything with you. If you look like you’re just doing okay, then no one’s going to do a big deal with you. If you look like you’re money, you will attract small, medium, and large deals.

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