Day 3: The importance of professionalism

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You’ve asked yourself WHY you want to start your own business (written by Caitlyn de Beer) and you’ve done an exercise in deciding if you are a generalist or specialist, should you choose one passion or combine many. (written by Megan Galloway).

Today I will tell you about the importance of professionalism in starting your own creative business.

The dictionary defines “professional” as someone doing something as a profession.

When you think about professionalism the following words probably come to mind: ‘expert’, ‘proficient’, ‘paid’, ‘educated’, ‘experienced’…

Although those words and ideals are important, don’t get caught up in it.

Professionalism is far more than those words.


Some time ago I did a workshop on embracing vulnerability, and it made me realise how we must really show our true selves, because it creates connections.  And connections are what every business is about.

BEING YOURSELF, showing who you are, will create a connection with your customers and clients and letting them see how your service or product will benefit their lives.  We as humans need (and crave) connection, so if you can connect with people in your business, it will create an experience for them, one that might just let you stand out in the crowd…


When I started my business I was all over the place, in every aspect, and then I came across this…  DEFINE YOUR STYLE AND BUSINESS IN 3 WORDS.

So I did, I wrote down 3 words that I wanted to describe my business and stuck it somewhere where I could see it every day.

It’s a funny thing, but once I wrote down those 3 words, and seeing it every day, people started telling me (without knowing about my words), how they see my work and business, exactly pin pointing those 3 words.  Defining your style and business will not only help you, but will show the outside world that you are serious about what you do, that you have a clear vision and plan.


One of the most important things in being a professional is TREATING EVERYONE THE SAME.  Not only the people that you can benefit from, but everyone you get in contact with in your business venture.

If you start out you might give away a lot of free stuff, or do things for free to get your name out there.  You network with people in your community that might never be a client or customer of you.  It is exactly here that you start building your business, so treating these people like they are your highest paid customers and best clients are key.  Give them the great experience you would give your paid customers and they will spread the word about you.  You just never know, your big break might come from a source you never expected it to come, so don’t waste any opportunity to show the world how awesomely you are doing business…


When offering a service or product, UNDER PROMISE, OVER DELIVER AND GIVE VALUE.  Most of you might have heard this somewhere already, but I think it is still an important thing to mention in having a professional business.  Here, a little goes a long way.  People always notice the small things they haven’t been expecting.  And it goes back to the connections I mentioned, giving value brings connection, and we all want to feel connected.


Many starting a creative business will probably think about getting a website showcasing their work or offering their services on it.  In today’s technology and information age it is wonderful how easy and effective a website can be for a small business owner.  But always remember, YOUR WEBSITE IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THE WORLD, your store front, shop, the thing that must tell your story.  Effectively.

Are you proud of how it looks, what you are displaying on it?  When people see it, do they feel they want to know more, see more?

Just like clothes or your house tell people something about you, your website tell the world about your business (and you).  Does your website portray the right message?  Do you have everything on your website a potential client might need to know?

Things to consider:  Is your website easy to navigate?  Can information be found easily?  Do you have clear and professional photos of your services and products?  Can people contact you fast and effectively.  Does your website portray your business, and you?


In short, these are the things I’ve learned in the time I’ve had my business.  These points on professionalism are only a starting point and you may find that there are much more to being a professional business owner than what you see here.

  • Be yourself – create connections
  • Define your style and business in 3 words – it gives yourself (and the world) a clear vision
  • Treat everyone the same
  • Under promise, over deliver, give value
  • Your website is your message to the world


Deciding to start your own business and then doing it, teaches you so much about yourself, but also about how the world sees you.  Sometimes it might feel like everyone is looking at you through magnifying glasses and seeing only the things you do wrong and still need to learn.  Although this aspect is important because it is your starting point in being a professional business owner, don’t focus on it.  Just do your thing, keep on keeping on!

I’ll leave you with this…


And of course, being a photographer no post is EVER complete without a photo!

Best is yet to come

*** This post is part of a blog series where 9 creative South African women are sharing tips on how to ‘START YOUR OWN CREATIVE BUSINESS’.  If you’ve missed a day or two, then don’t waste another minute, click here to read about the series and get the links to all the other blog posts.

If you know someone who might be interested in this or benefit from our series, please use the share buttons below and let them get inspired! ***

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