I always ask the entrepreneurs I’m working with to give me 5 adjectives that they would like their clients to use when describing their businesses.

90% of the time, one of the adjectives I get back is “Professional”.

Wanting to be seen as professional in your small business is a bit of a trap – and an easy one to get caught in.

Here’s what happens when you put professionalism ahead of personality:

An entrepreneur is starting her very first business. She’s nervous, and feeling a bit out of her depth because she’s never gone “out on her own” before. She’s concerned about her credibility, and worried that people won’t take her seriously.

That she won’t be seen as a professional.

When she creates her brand, she’s overly concerned about appearing professional. In order to increase the chance that she’ll be perceived as professional, she chooses designs that look professional to her. She uses dark blues. Serif fonts like Times New Roman. Models a corporate website.

She winds up with a professional brand, but one that’s completely devoid of personality.

And loses one of the biggest competitive advantages she has as an entrepreneur – the personal touch.

Instead, approach professionalism from an angle of wanting to look “put together”.

Having a brand strategy, designs created by a branding pro, and a consistent look all go a long way towards making you look professional without losing your personality.