Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain!

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As the 'Great And Powerful Oz' once said to Dorothy, "Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain!" and as you know, appearances can be deceiving they are also one of the first things people judge others by. For instance, you recall the old saying 'Never Judge A Book By Its Cover?' well guess what ? we still do!

I know that might not sound too politically correct, but deep down we make snap judgements using exterior appearances and then spend our time trying to rationalize our 'gut instinct.' Apparently we should trust our guts more often because gut cells have not yet advanced enough to engage in self doubt? It's amazing what can read inside a fortune cookie!

--- They Call Them Rational Lies For A Reason

And incidentally, have you ever stopped to think about that last word ? 'rationalize'. It really is the addition of the word 'rational' and 'lies'? Makes you think doesn't it.

Anyway, back to my point. So what's this got to do with you? Well your clients need to "see" you as the BOSS ? the one "in charge." And surprisingly enough, so do your employees.

Let me give you an example. If a new customer walks into your shop and you are dressed like all your staff, how are they to know whom to ask for? Why do you think throughout history we've used uniforms to denote our place in the system? It's certainly not been to make a fashion statement ? okay, at some points in history it was to make a fashion statement, but the General always looked different from his troops.

--- Le Grand Fromage!

And unless you wear a nametag that says "I'm In Charge" or "Boss" or "Head Honcho" (incidentally, all of which are bad ideas) your new customer will be left having to ask, and people are not always comfortable asking. Remember, your new client is already at a disadvantage because they have a problem they don't know how to solve ? make it easy for them to spot you.

Also, if you dress differently from the rest of your staff, slacks, a jacket and so forth, people will assume you are in management and not a technician ? I know, it maybe a strange assumption, but we're back to those appearances again. Believe me it helps customers feel comfortable because dressed that way you are more like them. And when they feel more 'like you' they will be more inclined to 'relate' to you (the cornerstone of trust and ultimately good business).

--- 'Hanging' With Your Staff

As to your staff, (management commentary aside) you really should differentiate yourself from them ? at the very least in how you appear. Let me give you another old axiom ? familiarity breeds contempt. Over familiarity may not breed contempt in your business, but it certainly may lead to over-stepping the bounds in conversations.

Remember, you and your employees are not equal in all things. You may be equal on a technical level, you may be equal on many other levels but there is one significant difference: you are their employer. You are the one who has the occasional sleepless night thinking about cash flow and receivables, not them.

--- One Small Step?One Leap of Faith

You were the one who took the leap of faith and started a business. You should look different ? you are different ? and it helps to keep up the illusions we all need to operate properly in this business world of ours.

Now I'm not suggesting you act all high and mighty ? you need your staff, some times more than they need you. Just remember you might have to make some tough decisions and it will be doubly tough if it involves "a friend."

But you knew all this already, right?

JAMES C. BURCHILL is a 20-year veteran entrepreneur and information technology executive who now provides strategic marketing consulting services to a select group of clients. He is a published author, a passionate advocate of technology and the Internet, as well as an avid study of classical advertising and marketing strategies (which he uses during 'Internet alchemy' experiments.) James is an expert in information and data management, Internet marketing and online networking. A self confessed 'information and technology enthusiast', James brings a wide range of valuable skills to any venture. Of singular note is James' ability to assimilate complex subject matter and produce clean clear 'easy-to-understand' messages. James has been interviewed many times and caused quite the media buzz when a client 'double-dog-dared' him to prove you can get front page coverage for $0. The details and that 'dumb stunt' are now part of EBay legend. Currently James lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife and family, their Siamese cat and one very nervous fish. Visit for details.

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