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Best Foot Forward

How you look and act can say a lot to your customers about your business.
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This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Startups. Subscribe »
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You don't have to literally wear a sandwich board, but being an entrepreneur means always walking and talking a positive message about your business. "Being the very best example of what your business is promoting makes you a walking advertisement," says Fabienne Fredrickson, marketing coach and founder of ClientAttraction.com. "It's important to be consistent with the image you're trying to project."

Image is key for any business, but it's especially vital for those like Chic Events, a high-end event planning company in Glendale, California. Started by Rachel Hollis, 25, the company plans events for individuals and companies like Disney and Yahoo. "Everything my clients see must be a reflection of what it is to be chic," says Hollis. "If you are a fantastic wedding planner and you show up wearing flip-flops, whether or not you realize it, you're giving clients an impression [about] yourself."

While how you look is important, your demeanor and how you present your business are just as vital. Marketing yourself doesn't mean being pushy. "To make [your approach] to self-promotion inoffensive," says Fredrickson, "you must be authentic and relatable." Share your successes but also your past struggles. And always pursue business like it's something you're offering prospective clients--not something you're trying to get.

Hollis, whose company earns about $250,000 annually, has found success over informal lunch and coffee meetings with clients. "I approach [these meetings] as an opportunity to meet someone new," she says. "I don't put pressure on myself that I have to make a sale today. I try and approach it in a laid-back way, because people respond to that." With over 90 percent of her business gleaned from referrals, she's definitely succeeding.

Edition: May 2017

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