People want to make a good impression on others but many of them don’t exactly know how. Image, after all, is the way other people see us. It can influence potential employers, clients, and those we deal with every day. Nowadays, image consulting has become one of the popular sectors in the training industry. Consultants give people tips and tricks that could help them reach their goals and accomplish what they want whether it is to make a good impression, land a good job, or, simply, to feel good about themselves.
According to Olen Juarez-Lim, Managing Director of OJL Consulting Group, “Image consulting is a rewarding career when you want to share your knowledge and expertise to help others excel in their personal and professional lives.”
She mentions that John T. Molloy, believed to be America’s pioneer image consultant and the author of 1975 bestseller Dress for Success, introduced to the public the idea that dressing professionally leads to greater success in the corporate world. He and his book received widespread media coverage that other people, who also have the knack of helping others look their best, also began offering image consulting services soon after.
“With the new wave of people wanting to look their best, image consulting in the US alone has become a multi-billion dollar a year business. ICs can earn from $50/hour depending on the service they provide and corporate consultants can earn as much as twice,” describes Lim. “Not only can ICs do well financially, they can also enjoy the flexibility of working either part or full time jobs.”
Here, she shares steps in becoming an image consultant:
1 Discover the career. Understand what image consultants do. They are professionals who provide services for individuals and corporations through coaching, presentations, seminars, and workshops. Image consultants offer assistance in image enhancement (appearance, body and color analysis, wardrobe development, and management), sound and effective communications, business and social etiquette, civility, branding, and more through coaching and training. (Source: aici.org)
2 Decide on your area of expertise whether it’s children, personal or corporate image, branding or etiquette, etc. “Then know how to do consultations and, most importantly, develop your skills,” advises Lim.
3 Know the type of service/s you want to offer. These may include image analysis or makeover, wardrobe planning or fashion styling, color or make-up analysis, vocal communications, non-verbal communications, etiquette, closet organizing, personal shopper, and more.
4 Plan your office well. You may opt to have a couple of rooms to serve as your consulting room, training room, and your main office. It should be complete with all the equipment and facilities you need in order to run your classes or training sessions smoothly. “If, let’s say, you have a make-up room, it should be complete with mirrors, ample lighting, a sink, individual make-up stations, grooming items and tools, etc.” enumerates Lim.
She further explains, “Some people may think that this is a frivolous career but what they don’t know is that it involves a lot of discipline, technical knowhow, financial investment in studies, commitment, and the knack for training.”
In general, starting and running any kind of business requires guts, determination, persistence, and confidence. “You will have to develop your passion as your career and not too often that situation presents itself,” reminds Lim. “You’ll be making a lot of important decisions and addressing many legal and practical matters. Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. A good source would be the DTI, SBA, an accountant, or any friend of yours who have started a business.”
Lim recommends creating several kinds of plans:
1 A good business plan serves two purposes: “It’s a guide for you and anyone who may want to invest in you. It is also a roadmap for you to know if you are still on track.”
2 Describe the nature of your business and design a marketing plan wherein you will know your competitors, pricing, advertising, and promotions.
3 Have a viable financial plan that includes taxes and duties, like the VAT and e-VAT, you are responsible for. “Know how much percentage is usually found in the processing of your accounting documents.”
4 Create a management plan. “The number of staff you need depends on the number of clients you may have. Make sure that you do not have more staff than clients!” In addition, she advises to choose a business name well as part of your branding. “In my case, I am my brand which is why it was more viable to use OJL CONSULTING as people would easily recognize me as the brand.”
Lim reminds aspiring image consultants that a lot of work is needed to make sure they stay in business.
1 Comply with all the necessary registration documents such as your cedula, business permit, Barangay clearance, permit to operate, BIR papers, DTI or SEC registration form, etc. “I know of some consultants who promote their business without supporting documents to claim. This is a violation of the code of ethics of the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI), the leading and largest association of Image Consultants worldwide,” she warns. “When you misrepresent yourself, you are not a credible source for this business or any other, in fact. While they can be a source of irritation, legal matters concerning your business are extremely important and must be taken seriously.”
2 Know what works best for your structure. What is the type of legal structure you have? Are you a sole proprietor, a corporation, partnership, etc?
3 Don’t’ forget to have insurance like disability, life or non-life, property insurance, and the like. There are several insurance agencies that could help find out what’s suitable for your business. 4Hire an accountant who could help you with financial and accounting matters. “They can usually expedite the process of applying for all the necessary papers for you.” 5Get advice from good lawyers who will furnish you with templates of necessary contracts and other legal documents. Even big corporations may cheat you out of contracts so it is wise to know what your documents say about your dealings.
6 Ensure that you give your clients value for their money. Clients are more sophisticated now and would like to have pool of consultants that are very knowledgeable and trained in their craft. You can also charge higher if you have more credentials under your belt. “In the IC business, there are a lot of consultants out there that are the ‘cut and paste’ kind; they read books and steal ideas and words to make them like they are their own. Others even tend to copy other consultants’ work,” illustrates Lim. “That is the difference between certified consultants who had undergone certification and special studies with image masters from around the globe.”
Thus, every year, Lim makes sure to go for a refresher course and attend conventions and conferences, use on-line or web-based training, and make sure she is up to date with her materials and resources to keep abreast with the trends. “You are always as good as your last job and there is nothing more gratifying than giving your best in every deal and opportunity to work,” she concludes.