One of the challenges of running a home office is trying to make yourself appear bigger than you actually are. Now I’m not talking about physical appearance here, because once you start working at home—a mere 10 feet away from your refrigerator, 8 from the couch and 12 from the television—appearing physically bigger is not an issue.
No, I’m talking about sending the message (tricking) to your high paying (richer than you) clients that you and your team (you and your dog Rex) are playing in the big leagues (paid at least a portion of last month’s electric bill). This is critical to the success of any home business, especially when your two year-old has just answered your business line with a screaming rendition of a chimpanzee on uppers.
Here are a few tips to help create the illusion that Home Office Inc. is much, much bigger than it really is.
Add the line “and associates” behind your name wherever your name appears. Your clients needn’t find out that your associates really include your dog Rex, the paper boy and Mrs. Kravitz from across the street (who, by virtue of the fact that she occasionally drops by to see if you are trapped under anything heavy, actually qualifies her as a quasi-legitimate associate).
Always make liberal use of “we” vs. “me”. For example: “We’ll have a look at this order as soon as we can.” Or, better still: “I think I speak for all of us when I say the team and I just discussed your project and WE are ALL so thrilled to be part of this, especially Mark, Susan, Amanda, Jacob and Rex (or whatever your kid’s goldfish are named). And I’m sure the others are just as excited. Even old Larry. Gosh, especially Larry. But the others too, for sure. Very excited. All of us. Every one of us.” (Okay, so this might be a tad over the top. You’ll have to feel out your ability to expound under pressure.)
Tape record your next dinner party, then every time you answer the phone, have the recording playing in the background. Not only will this create the impression that you work in a thriving, happening place, it will give you something to listen to between business calls, which can often be months in a home office.
Save some bucks and forgo the business cards. Yes, this could hamper your ability to attract customers, however the benefit of this—which clearly outweighs this minor inconvenience—is that you’ll be able to continually shake your head in disbelief whenever you reach for your card only to discover that you’re going through them so fast you just can’t keep enough in stock! “That just shows how crazy busy I am,” you’ll say, shaking your head with a much-practiced bemused grin of disbelief (it will help if you actually practice looking bemused in the mirror, keeping in mind that there is a fine line between appearing amused and bemused).
Invest in a cool leather bomber jacket and expensive sun glasses, so that when you meet with customers face to face you can plant the seed that maybe, just maybe, you flew your own personal helicopter to the meeting. (Trust me, this can work. People aren’t nearly as bright as we give them credit for.)
Out bling bling your clients to show them just how successful you have become. If they show up with bling, make sure you have bling bling. If they show up with bling bling, then counter with some bling bling bling. They key is to always be one bling ahead. (If you’re not sure what bling even is, consult your nearest teenager.)
Learn how to “allude” effectively. Alluding is sort of like lying, only not really at all like lying. It’s simply planting seeds of ideas by association in a round about, circuitous fashion that sound true, but of course really aren’t true. And if you are ever questioned about anything you alluded to, you can legitimately react incredulously (another look you’ll need to practice)—after all, you never really said it. Alluding effectively allows you to suggest that you may or may not have another office in New York or you may or may not have been involved in the last space shuttle launch. Here’s how effective alludes can work:CLIENT: “Are you going to be at your office next weekend?”
YOU: “This office, or an office in New York?” (Notice that you didn’t technically say you had an office in New York, you just mentioned “an” office in New York, but it certainly suggests to me that you might have an office in New York! Wow!)CLIENT: “What are some big projects you’ve been involved with?”
YOU: “Did you see the last space shuttle launch? Excuse me, I have another call coming in.” (You didn’t really say you worked on the space shuttle, you were just making small talk by asking the client if they saw the last launch, a fairly routine question, and one that could easily plant the idea that you were somehow involved in the launch.)
To appear in a perpetual state of busyness and bigness, always answer the phone on the seventh ring in a wildly out of breath tone, never say you can process an order right away, and never, ever say you’re available to meet within the next four weeks (in other words, emulate my cable company).
Playing in the big leagues, as you’ve seen, is easier than it appears, especially since no one is doing it successfully.
Now if you’ll excuse me, we have a call coming in on line seven, and we might have to prepare for a trip to New York.
Copyright Michael Kerr. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, trainer, and author of six books, including Inspiring Workplaces and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.HumoratWork.com
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