Have you ever regretted making a bad first impression as an entrepreneur? Most business owners understand how much of a travesty they are. You will usually find that there is no coming back from a bad first impression. A survey from Australia corroborates this. Participants showed that 66% of potential customers won’t give a business a second chance after a bad first impression.

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t learn from their mistakes. They recall the regret about making a careless impression immediately after the fact. Unfortunately, they fail to develop long-term strategies to create better first impressions.

You should familiarize yourself with the research on the topic. You will have a better understanding of the importance of first impressions and the best approach to making them. Here are some guidelines to create first impressions that lead to sustainable, long-term relationships with customers and a solid brand reputation.

First impressions are made much sooner than you think

Conventional wisdom has traditionally stated that it takes around three minutes to make a first impression. More recent research has shown that first impressions are made much more quickly. In December, a new study was published showing that first impressions are made in just 27 seconds. Other studies have found that it can take as little of 1/10th of a second.

The Association for Psychological Science has stated that many of the variables that influence first impressions are outside of our control. I can personally attest to this. I began my career as a business owner when I was 27 years old. I looked a few years younger than I was, which clearly worked against me at business networking events. People assumed that I was inexperienced or less competent, simply because I looked younger. My actual age, work experience and MBA did not matter.

However, you don’t want to fall into the trap of assuming that first impressions are entirely beyond your control. There is a lot that you can do to solidify a positive impression in the minds of your customers. You will be more successful if you understand how quickly impressions are formed, because you will know what steps to take to immediately get off on the right foot.

Here are some tips that will help you create a stellar first impression right out of the gate.

Wear appropriate attire for your profession

Your attire is possibly the most important factor in making a good first impression. Along with your face and other physical characteristics, it is one of the first things that people are going to notice.

However, people rationally understand that your attire is almost entirely within your control. People make prejudicial assessments of others based on the attractiveness of their face, body weight and other physical factors, but they try to be aware of the unfair judgments they project onto others, which helps them temper those sentiments.

The difference is that people choose to wear certain clothing. If you’re not dressed appropriately for your profession, it is going to rightly be seen as a deliberate act of branding negligence. You should dress appropriately anytime that you are going to be representing your professional brand.

Speak slowly and thoughtfully

You probably want to convey as much information to a potential customer as possible, but the first interaction is not the place to do it. You can create several personal branding problems by speaking too quickly, including:

  • You might come across as being overly anxious
  • You’re going to seem less articulate and competent
  • You could be perceived as being less trustworthy (fast talkers got that name for a reason)

Instead of speaking quickly to you say as much as possible, you should speak more slowly and get your point across well.

Make sure your venue is clean and organized

The presentation of your business is just as important as a first impression you make in person. Visitor management is very important, because people will make judgments based on what they see when they walk through your doors.

You need to keep your business clean and organized at all times. A dirty looking business is going to give an even worse first impression than you would saying the wrong thing to someone during a conversation.

Don’t skimp on your website design

In 2019, many first impressions are made online. Customers often find your brand through Google or social media before they ever meet you in person. Their first experience with your brand is with your website.

A study from Missouri University of Science and Technology found that it takes less than half a second for customers to judge a brand based on its website. You can’t afford to make the wrong impression. Your website should be professionally made to represent your brand properly.