How can I be taken seriously?

I often get knocked back by clients, though I feel this has nothing to do with my company or its service. I am a 20-year-old female entrepreneur and I have the added disadvantage of looking younger than my years. However, I often find that when I walk into a room some of those present, both women and men, seem to be making their minds up before I have even uttered a word. How can I ensure I am taken seriously by potential clients?


A. Jo Groves of Active Digital writes:

Firstly, congratulations on setting up your business. It’s always great to hear when young women are following their business aspirations. I set up my business when I was 16 years old, and often struggled with business suppliers and clients comprehending how I could be running a business at such a young age. I’m 28 now, so most may feel I’m over the hill!

One very important point to remember is that it is all down to having confidence in yourself, your own ability and being passionate about your business. When you walk into a room, have a big smile and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Ask what company they are from and take a keen interest in their business before discussing your own.

They’ll soon ask you about your company in return, and you will then have the confi dence and the passion to talk about the business you are creating. You’ll quickly have people respecting what you do and asking you for a business card.

Networking is really important. Have your business hat on constantly and use that time as positive business building. It may also be worth organising some ‘one-to-one’ training sessions on business networking and presenting skills. Attend some breakfast meetings, seminars and motivational speaking events. The more you attend, the more confi dent and assertive you will become.

In my company, we manage major bluechip clients and when we fi rst started it was sometimes a worry when they would ask who owned the company. I felt they would be disappointed when I told them it was me, and that it was a family business. In fact, in most cases, it was the opposite. Customers just want you to be honest and upfront with them. When they have a problem, they are often delighted to hear that they can go straight to the top to get some answers.

My customers love the fact that we are a growing, independently-owned company with a real customer service focus. So embrace your age and don’t let it hinder your business growth. You’ll soon be on your way to building a successful and profi table business.

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