How the right first impression will help you beat the odds

The business world has come on leaps and bounds in terms of gender equality over the past few decades, but serious challenges remain when it comes to women getting their foot on the business ladder.

According to Forbes, 17% of venture capital dollars goes to female-owned business, with a general gender bias reported by many female entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this demonstrates a lingering, outdated bias against women entering the world of business.

So what can you do if you feel you’re coming up against gender-based prejudice in business? One way of taking back some control yourself, and achieving whatever outcome you desire in a situation, is to ensure that the first impression anyone has of you is as positive as possible.

Cultivating an appearance

For bricks-and-mortar businesses, the first impression people will usually have is the physical appearance of your shop, cafe or other type of venue. And that impression matters.

Long-standing principles highlighted by MarketingWeek show the benefit of a customer-tailored shop floor experience and atmosphere – the ambience of a store is more important than many other factors, including location and staff service.

There are two tracts to achieving this. Firstly, consider hygiene. Using professional cleaning services and high-standard protocol in your business is key to maintaining hygiene in your premises. The second comes in tailoring your experience to the customer, and ensuring you are aware of what they value in the shopping experience.

Getting this factor absolutely spot on will help to reinforce the quality of your business and give you a step up. The same rules apply for digital business: make your online presence clear and clean, but welcoming.

Make a lasting impression

Studies show that first impressions last a long time. One analysis published by the Association for Psychological Science asserted that the very first, seconds-long impression, can last up to four months.

So if you want to give yourself a head start on defeating gender bias in business, consider how you can create a good impression anywhere someone may come across your business, including social media.

Today honesty and integrity are highly valued in business, so focus on using an organic voice and an authentic message. Be frank about your service, and also impress on your best factors; leave no doubt in the mind of someone with conscious or unconscious bias about how good your service or product is, and why you are so passionate about creating and delivering it.

Dropping the ladder

Building into that message can be the theme of equality. Gender bias may still exist in the world, but you can publicly and proactively seek to be part of the change. This gives you an opportunity to help other women, and to demonstrate the core values of your business.

CNBC highlights one McKinsey analysis that recommended businesses look to proactively hire women into managerial positions and positions of executive authority to ensure good stratification of female employees in roles through the business. You can take that step too, and give women agency within your business and forward-facing roles.

How will you make the right first impression?

First impressions matter. And by taking positive control of your business narrative from the outset, you can show customers how good your product is, and build long-lasting impressions that give you the edge over businesses who don’t make the same effort.

Going that extra mile will help you and your business to succeed, grow, and flourish. And what better lasting impression can you hope to achieve?

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg