What you wear and what you earn, are often debated among entrepreneurs and other professional types. The formalists believe that if you dress like you just got out of bed, you’ll work like you just got out of bed. Meanwhile, some entrepreneurs — usually the newbies — believe one of the great perks of being in business for yourself is not having to adhere to some fashion fascist’s guidelines of what is “appropriate” and what is not.
It’s something I’ve struggled with myself in the five years I’ve been on my own. Now, what you’re about to read is not meant to be taken as science. It’s just my own observations as to whether this is an argument worth having.
A Day In The Life
My efforts as a full-time freelance writer — a kind of entrepreneur, if you will — is that a typical day can go one of two ways. I either:
1) Wake up at a decent hour, shower, brush teeth, put on some pants and a nice shirt, and head to the office; or
2) I sleep in, stay at the house, take my sweet time getting things done, forcing myself to stay up past midnight to finish the workload, and I don’t change or get ready until the wife is just about home from work.
Noticing that there’s usually no in-between with me, I decided to do an experiment with earnings.
My goal: take two days to earn my usual income. On one day, I wouldn’t rush it, wouldn’t dress up, and would do everything from home. On the next, I would get up when my wife did, shower, wear nice clothes, and head to the office if I wanted to.
Not surprisingly, at around 6 p.m. on the dress-down day, I had just made half my goal. On dress-up day, I had earned my target by 4:30 p.m.
Would that hold if I dressed up and went to the office every day? I’m willing to bet that it would. Why?
Change Of Clothes, Change Of Mindset
In my mind, what you wear wholly affects your earning potential. That’s because with a change of clothes comes a change of mindset. I’ve noticed it both at home and at the office. If I come home and stay in the same (nicer) clothes, I will continue to get a lot done even in front of the television. But the minute the sweatpants go on, it takes slob-me three hours to do what debonair-me could accomplish in 60 or 90 minutes.
While it may not be true for everyone, I’ve put enough years behind me now to know that slothfulness and work do not mix. Just because you can dress like a bum to tackle your workday doesn’t mean that you should.
Here are some more tips from Entrepreneur on how to handle dress as an entrepreneur.
What has your experience been with attire and productivity? Share your thoughts in our comments section.[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]