If you Google the above question, you’ll see a lot of similar responses when it comes to what constitutes an “entrepreneurial mindset“. Tenacity, self-belief, risk-taker, passionate, visionary. Fortunately, you don’t have to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to consider yourself an entrepreneur. If we compare ourselves to these guys, the answer to the question would be “No” every time!
The reality is that we could all be an entrepreneur. Irrespective of age, background, personality type, education level. There is no single thing that defines a true entrepreneur (which is good news for all of us). BUT there are some traits that are pretty important if you want to transition from employee to entrepreneurial mindset.
So What Does an “Entrepreneurial Mindset” Look Like?
Over a series of articles, I hope to explain some of the traits frequently identified by researchers as being key to successful entrepreneurship. Today, however, I’d like to focus on one that isn’t often mentioned when you research this topic. As you start out on your entrepreneurial journey, what should you wear when you work from home? Can you dress for success?
Now I appreciate that “clothes” may sound like a frivolous topic when you look at some of the other traits that well-known entrepreneurs have. But when you’re starting out, how you look can dramatically affect how you behave.
Looking back to my days as an employee, I had never been a big fan of “Dress Down Fridays”, for the simple reason that I didn’t feel like I was at work. I felt too casual, which made for a less productive day. When I first started working from home for my old employer, my colleagues suggested how great it would be not to have to get into my smart clothes every morning. I agreed! I figured I didn’t have to do my hair, or put on makeup. Hey, I didn’t even need to get out of my pyjamas if I didn’t feel like it! I had gone from disliking one casual day at work to planning a whole week of them! How could my mindset have changed so quickly?
Why You Should Dress for Success
It’s true, working from home comes with a lot of benefits over commuting to the office. But I very quickly rediscovered that what you wear reflects how you act. What might be perceived as a perk of not having to go to the office could actually have a detrimental effect on your performance and productivity. Staying in your pyjamas till the kids come in from school, or lounging in bed with the laptop, could be holding you back. And for the budding entrepreneur, this could spell doom!
Why is this? Because people associate certain clothes with certain activities…suits, ties, smart dress says “professional”, “business”, etc. Jogging pants = chilling out! What you wear puts you in a particular mindset. So if you wear your pyjamas while you sit at your desk, you’re invariably going to be in a casual, lazy state of mind. Hardly conducive to a productive day!
And it’s not just about your mindset. It also sends a message to those around you. If there are other people in the house, it can be difficult not to get distracted, especially if you don’t have a separate office space. I work from a desk in my dining room, which just happens to be a “thoroughfare” to the rest of the house! Because you’re at home they don’t necessarily see you as working. Putting on some smart clothes can make all the difference. This doesn’t mean donning your best Ralph Lauren suit! But if you look like you’re at work, you’ll feel like you’re at work, and others will treat you like you’re at work.
How you dress creates a boundary between work and home. When work is finished, get changed into something more casual. It’s important to have that distinction. If the lines between work life and home life are blurred, how do you know when to switch on and, just as importantly, to switch off?
I’m no saint, believe me. I am still developing the habit of dressing for work at home, but it’s a habit I’m determined to stick with. Ultimately, you need to treat your work day as a work day. You wouldn’t sit in a meeting with a client, or worse..a prospective client…whilst in your teddy bear onesie!
Is it ever OK to “go casual” when you’re working? Absolutely! It’s not OK to forego personal hygiene (EVER), but don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself sitting in your jogging pants when you clearly aren’t going to the gym!
And I can guarantee that in the not too distant future(!) when our business has gone global and we’re living a laptop lifestyle, I’ll be sitting on a sun lounger checking my emails, and I won’t be in a suit!
Just remember, if you want to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur, adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Where you work is irrelevant. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman: “That’s just geography”! Dress for success. Even if it’s just for the benefit of the cat.
Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this article please share with your friends on social media. Don’t forget to leave any comments below, or share your own experiences of working from home.
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If you’d like to know more about our story, you can read about our personal journey from employee to entrepreneur here