“You look pretty smart.” Said no one. Ever. Anyone who has read this blog over the years knows that I’ve had a life long battle with my weight. Thankfully over the last year I’ve had some success. Although the battle continues. One of the motivating factors for me was the fact that I started my own business. It became evident to me very quickly that when you are an entrepreneur you are on duty 24/7. You are constantly selling yourself and your business ALL the time. I’ve passed out business cards at the grocery store, at the dry cleaners and I’ve had full on tax consultations on the airplane on the way to London. You never know when or where you’ll find your next client or business opportunity so you always need to be prepared.  As a female entrepreneur there is an added level of pressure to also look your best. And whether fortunately or unfortunately in our society looks…. good looks, get you further in life and in business. I’m a Libra so being vain isn’t all that difficult for me. But I did have to take a hard look at myself and think about what my appearance says about my business and my brand.

I recently read an article about Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and how she wears corporate attire and high heeled shoes every day while Mark Zuckerberg wears the same grey t-shirt and jeans day after day. The article goes on to say that “Women can’t just roll out of bed, toss on yesterday’s jeans, brush their teeth and do well at work. If they do, they’ll struggle in the professional world.”  The author implies that this is a bad thing.

Is it fair? Maybe not. But I don’t want to just roll out of bed and wash my face. Do I want to wear a full face of make up just to run to the grocery store? Not really. But I don’t consider looking presentable to be a burden. For me, the same would go for a man in business. I would definitely pay closer attention to a well groomed man who is pitching his business to me than someone who didn’t take the time to shave or shower.

20160527_105931When I was at the PowerNetworking Conference last month, again this was a networking conference for entrepreneurs, I saw all kinds of different…. styles. There was a dress code for the conference, business attire. Now, I guess that is relative depending on your business. But let’s just assume we all know what that means. Or maybe we shouldn’t. Does business attire mean an Adidas sweatsuit? Not to me. But it also doesn’t mean a sequin floor length skirt and satin shoes at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. So who am I to say?

So what are we as female entrepreneurs to do? How do we walk this fine line between wanting to be accepted into the business world based on our expertise while living in a society where visual marketing is the primary source of engagement with customers and you are the most important marketing tool. Personal Brand that’s the buzz word these days. Getting yourself out there. Where ever out there is. Having an online presence. Social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Yada, Yada. Yada. It is all about how many friends and followers you have. It is about how many people are LOOKING at you.

It is easy to write this off and say pretty girls get all the attention. But I don’t think it is about being pretty. There are plenty of successful women who aren’t necessarily pretty. I think it is more about being attractive. Yes, physically. But more so about having an essence. A presence. That thing that draws people in. And once you have them, you have to have the brains, the experience and the expertise to keep them. You wouldn’t want a pretty brain surgeon who finished at the bottom of her class in med school would you?