What to Wear: Summer Dressing in a Business Environment

Choosing appropriate clothing for the business environment can be challenging at the best of times. It becomes more difficult when temperatures rise and we feel being fully covered is uncomfortable and downright hot. It becomes even more of a challenge when we leave home in sweltering heat and then move into an air conditioned work environment. How do we dress? What should we wear?

Knowing how to dress for the summer heat and still remain comfortable and professional has the potential to boost your professional image and maybe even move you up a notch or two.

The Rules of Summer Dressing in a Business Environment:

1. Focus on professional: Resist the urge to wear clothing that shows bare skin. Low necklines, short skirts, sleeveless tops, sheer tops, bare legs are great for summer weather but are more fitting for barbecues and nightclubs than a day at work. When choose our clothing we are also choosing an image to project. If your intention is to move up in the business world keep your business clothes professional.

2. Wear lightweight clothing: You can still stay cool and not show skin. Choose fabrics that are lightweight such as cotton and linen. For example wear a cotton jacket over a lightweight blouse or wear a sweater set. If it gets too hot you can remove the jacket and still be covered underneath. If you work in an air-conditioned environment you will appreciate the added layer while you are inside and the option of removing it when you move into the heat.

3. Choose the proper footwear: Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that sandals can be worn everywhere. Sandals are not appropriate in a professional setting. Wear only closed shoes such as pumps and sling backs.

4. Stay away from clothing that spells “summer”: That means bright jewelry, cropped pants or skorts. Summer clothing can be worn in a professional environment but ever so subtlety. Wear lighter colored accessories and clothing but nothing that brings attention. For example, choose a pastel blouse or light colored professional handbag.

5. Wear loose clothing: Choose to wear skirts and pants in a light fabric so that the fabric glides over your hips and tummy. White is great for summer but will show every bump and lump if worn too tightly.

Managing In Today’s Business Environment

Managing a business, as you know, is both an art and a science. You can learn quite a bit from materials available in the market. However, you can get the feel of the business only when you apply those lessons and suggestions, interact with people experienced professionals and then go back again to your lessons. Now you are armed with your own valuable experience. But the question is – what is so special about today’s Business Environment? Is today’s business environment something different than what it was earlier? The answer would be a firm ‘yes’.

Earlier the world was divided into isolated zones. If you were given the task of leading a small business, you were expected to keep your views confined to your particular zone only. But now, the world is one entity, despite the political divides. Communication technology has advanced so much that two persons in two different hemispheres can get in touch any moment and instantly. You can travel from one part of the world to the other at very high speed.

With technological advancement business avenues have gone up rapidly. Let us take a simple example. Look around you and see the profusion of electronic gadgets in the market. But against all these rosy images, pressure on today’s business leaders is on the rise since competition is getting stiff by the day. So unless one manages his business with all seriousness and with full utilization of his skills, it is quite possible that instead of rising up the business ladder, he may fall head down. Therefore he has to learn the intricacies of different aspects of managing today’s business environment.

While you manage your business you have to constantly go through many formalities that have to co-relate with your basic business activities. You have to register with many associations, maintain a list of different authorities so that you can seek advice and help, whenever the need arises. Be conversant with the basics of tax matters and relevant rules and regulations.

Acquiring or organizing funds is the most important task. But it may not be as difficult as others that lie ahead. You can take loans from banks and even from your well-wishers. Lease financing and factoring are other sources. You can very well go public. You will succeed this way or the other if there is an able leader at the helm of affairs in this venture. This is because a true leader can transform a business beginning from scratch into a gold mine. You too must have seen or heard that a small business often makes spectacular progress by the sole dedication and sincerity of its leader. Can you not be a leader among leaders? Of course, you can.

The leader has to love the tasks before him. Sincerity will automatically flow from that. He will give additional hours for the organization on his own. He should have a sixth sense for business opportunities so that he can harness richer pastures. But the most important qualification would be to understand his employees with whom he should be friendly while maintaining his professional distance. He should be able to judge each of his employee’s strength and weakness and then allocate jobs accordingly. He should fairly decide rewards and punishments. Inter-personal relationship skills are therefore very important for a true leader. The leader should have the mind and attitude to take his own decisions. In a very large organization, too many persons may adhere to the throne of leadership and that may suffocate the leader with real merits.

A true leader will proceed with a business plan. This business plan should be available in writing in an easily readable, easily understood form that also grabs attention for its presentation. This is his true selling point – on this depends the trust in the organization.

The leader will have to pay attention to so many things all the time. He has to think of marketing strategies, sales boosting, personnel matters, legal issues, accounts modalities, uninterrupted fund flow, procurement and storing, timely transfer of materials, and even day-to-day office administration. He has to curtail unnecessary expenditure. And above all he has to find out the shortest ways to boost profits.

As a good marketing strategist he has to find out how to create an indelible impression in his niche market. Of course, advertising is the solution. He has to judge which media he can depend upon, considering the amount that has been earmarked for the purpose and expected impact from the move. But even if there is fund constraint for advertising in print or electronic media he should not be disheartened. There are other ways too, like issuing coupons, arranging competitions, etc. Offering gifts too can be a good marketing strategy.

So far as sales promotion is concerned, it is well within the knowledge of an able leader that the old technique of telling the customers about the quality of the goods again and again is passé. But if you can understand the problems faced by the customers and try to solve those with the help of your organization, you can very well attract them by this customer-focused sales promotion method.

The leader should even think how to make packaging of his products more attractive. For the customers believe in first impressions.

In the past, there was no scope for sales promotion through web-sites and emails or sending SMS messages through cell phones. But in the modern age why should you not think of utilizing those facilities? You can start by designing a useful and attractive web-site that will enhance the fame of your organization. However, a good leader knows that caution in the matter is to be exerted while sending SMS messages or emails etc. so that the customers do not take it as an infringement on their privacy. Otherwise such misadventures may bring in adverse effects on your business.

Your strategy should be to hold out the truth about your products or services and not exaggerate them. Sometimes money-sucking leaders lure customers by trying to convince them with flowery words. But if the customer is dissatisfied he will definitely defame your products or services. And bad news travels fast. An able leader, on the other hand, tries to pay attention to the complaints received from customers. If those are not genuine, he instructs his employees to explain courteously before the agitated customer. But if such complaints are genuine, he takes every effort to redress the grievance. A good leader cares for good public relation skills of his employees. He does not spare any negligence in after-sales service if that service is applicable to his organization.

To guess correctly the strategy of a competitor and chalk out one’s own strategy accordingly depends on leadership ability. However, the leader should not antagonize his competitors and should be a fair sportsman when he meets the latter.

The leader has to keep track of research going on around the world that concerns his particular business. If possible, he may think of making provision for some research activities within his business zone too. The leader should encourage his capable employees to participate in seminars and workshops that have relevance to the activities of his business area. The articles the latter may contribute for such events will help spread the name of his organization.

He who sells best sells most. A business leader needs to fix a price so that he is way ahead of his competitors.

Among the assets of a business are its machinery and equipment, house etc., workshop, warehouse, vehicles etc. But a sincere and skilled workforce is the most priceless asset for a business enterprise. A business becomes a money-rolling machine without the sincere involvement of the employees. Therefore, if anyone is unwilling to give importance to personnel management he can do that at his own peril or by ruining his business prosperity.

Start from the recruitment stage. Proper selection of personnel can give you a healthy business. You can select them through written tests followed by practical tests and interviews. Sometimes leaders bully candidates to test their skill levels. Such leaders are anything but successful. For your job is to find out the right candidate and not exhibit your strengths. The candidate believes he is facing an experienced professional and it would be thoroughly unprofessional to outgrow him at the interview. But if the interviewer loses his own patience and amiable nature, it spoils the very purpose of the recruitment process.

Once the selection process is over, it is the job of the leader to train them. At every stage the leader should monitor their performance and that will be of great help to assess further the new recruits.

An able leader sees to it that his team members talk to him without hesitation, discuss their problems and volunteer suggestions. A good leader motivates the employees under him. To motivate further, rewards should be declared at intervals. Even if the rewards are nominal, they play an important role. The staff concerned will realize that his performance has been monitored and assessed correctly. That will inspire him to move forward with added zeal.

The staff should be encouraged to join courses that will be helpful for the business. There should be incentives for that. In-house training courses too should be organized.

Sometimes people think that just by raising salary, employees can be motivated. That is a wrong concept. Just sudden jumps in salaries without caring to assess the individual merits do not promise improvement in staff performance. Good pay for good work should be the aim of the business.

How should aggressive, careless and trouble-makers be treated? An able leader does know that firmness in those cases will generally help those persons to rectify themselves. If simple cautions do not work, warnings should be issued. But before any punitive action is taken, it should be ensured that the person concerned had been given ample scope to come back on the right track.

Sometimes firing a staff may become unavoidable. But steady progress eliminates such possibilities. Even if there is any need for firing a staff, the leader should be careful to minimize that as far as practicable. The existing staff will also appreciate his efforts in the matter.

To his staff a good leader should be a good friend and a strict taskmaster whose heart is full with affection for every individual.

Thus, in today’s changed world the leader has to be more conscious about new ideas and inventions. With imagination, sincerity and diligence he has to move ahead with his dreams. But his health is an important factor because his health and the health of the business are tuned together. He should maintain discipline in his life if he is to maintain discipline in his business.
It is quite natural for the staff in general to follow their leader if they are convinced that the latter is an ideal one.

A business becomes very prospective when everyone, be he in sales or accounts or engineering or public relations, feels that he is very much a part of that family. If the business does prosper everyone is delighted and if it fails, everyone is grieved. If a business is successful, sheer team spirit will roll it forward.

Both the past and present have produced great leaders and amazing workforce. That is a salute to the one person who had and has the ability to manage business and man force.

Strategy and the Business Environment

Understanding the business environment is an important concept for managers. It encapsulates many different influences and the difficulty is making sense of this complexity, which arises because many of the separate issues are interconnected. For example, think of a technological development such as IT, which changes the nature of work. This in turn, changes lifestyles which then alters consumer behaviour and purchasing patterns for many goods and services.

The macro-environment consists of broad environmental factors that impact to a greater or lesser degree on organisations. Having identified the key drivers of change from the broad data, possible scenarios can be drawn which will help the organisation to draw up its strategy.

The next layer is called an industry or sector. This is a group of organisations producing the same products or services. A useful framework for analysing an industry is Porter’s Five Forces Framework.

The layer adjacent to the organisation itself is its competitors and markets. Within most industries or sectors, there will be many different organisations with different characteristics and competing on different bases. The concept of strategic groups can help with the identification of both direct and indirect competitors. Competitor analysis allows companies to identify and understand its competitors. Furthermore, customers’ expectations are not all the same. They have a range of different requirements, which can be understood through the use of market segments and critical success factors.

The PESTEL framework is a useful tool to identify how future trends in the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal environments might affect organisations. Examples of such influences are shown below.

· Legal:

o Competition law

o Employment law

o Health and safety

o Product safety

· Political:

o Government stability

o Taxation policy

o Foreign trade regulations

o Social welfare policies


· Economic factors:

o Business cycles

o GNP trends

o Interest rates

o Money supply

o Inflation

o Unemployment

o Disposable income

· Sociocultural factors:

o Population demographics

o Income distribution

o Social mobility

o Lifestyle changes

o Attitudes to work and leisure

o Consumerism

o Levels of education

· Technological:

o Government spending on research

o Government and industry focus on technological effort

o New discoveries/developments

o Speed of technology transfer

o Rates of obsolescence

· Environmental:

o Environmental protection laws

o Waste disposal

o Energy consumption

Understanding how such factors might impact on and drive change in general is only the starting point. Managers need to understand the key drivers of change and also the differential impact of these external influences and drivers on particular industries, markets and individual organisations. It is worthwhile assessing which factors are the most important at the present time and which will be over the coming years. It is particularly important that the future impact is assessed and fully understood.