My name is Chantelle Little, I am 26 years old, and this is my story…
Since my early years, I have been passionate about “creating something from nothing.” In the first grade, I spent my summer organizing activities for the neighbourhood kids, including the creation of a community baseball league and directing a production of Cinderella. I was first introduced to the concept of revenue and profit when I was in the fifth grade. My family lived on a golf course at the time, and I spent my Saturdays selling cans of pop for a profit to the golfers as they came by. These sorts of experiences characterized my growing up years.
While taking my business degree at Ambrose, I saw a need to provide extracurricular learning and networking opportunities to my fellow business students, and that inspired the creation of the first business society on campus. When I was nineteen years old, I had the privilege of spending my summer working in a marketing role at a health benefit firm. Due to the size and agile nature of the firm, I was given the freedom to create and exercise my entrepreneurial muscles. In this role, I developed a passion for marketing. One day, as I was working away on a campaign for an innovative health benefit plan, I was struck with a career-altering question: “Why am I not doing this for a whole bunch of companies?” After some initial business planning and receiving the blessing of my two bosses, I founded a marketing and web development firm called TAC Marketing. I was still nineteen years old and had two years left of my business degree, but I saw great benefit in building a business while I was still a student. First of all, I was learning the latest business strategies and had a real-life playground, called TAC Marketing, to put those learnings into practice. Secondly, I had a built-in support network of professors and classmates who could advise, teach, and cheer me on. In many ways, my new startup helped me get through university and upon graduation became my full-time career. TAC Marketing, now located in the trendy business district of Marda Loop (Calgary, AB), has been in business for over six years. As an entrepreneur, I am blessed to lead a tenacious and talented team of individuals who are also passionate about what they do. Together we have the privilege of working closely with our growing client base, which includes businesses and nonprofits from over North America. Although my entrepreneurial career is demanding, I absolutely love the adventure. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit yourself, I am sure you can relate.
As an entrepreneur two of my key responsibilities include lead generation and sales. Over the last six years I have learned a lot about the sales process, and have identified what helps and hinders this process. Although seemingly obvious, I have realized just how much my attire can help or hinder a sale. I firmly believe that the way I dress in each sales meeting must compliment the dress of the potential client I am meeting with. If I am making a pitch to an oil and gas firm downtown that expects its employees to wear a suit, it is imperative that I wear a suit. In the same way, if I am making a pitch to a construction company that is used to wearing jeans to work, I make a point of wearing jeans. Why? Well, in any sales situation my greatest priority is to make sure the potential client feels comfortable. Comfort lends to trust, and building trust is what sales and customer relationship management is about. If you over dress you risk making the potential client feel uncomfortable and intimidated, and the person may question whether there is a cultural fit between the two companies. If you under dress (especially when you are young) you risk coming across as unprofessional and inexperienced, which will not help with instilling trust and confidence. If you dress to match the attire of the person you are selling to (always leaning towards the slightly more professional side), you create a comfortable environment that is free of barriers. Now that you have created the right environment, you can focus on listening to the needs of your potential client and then presenting the right solution.
For the sake of clarity, I am not suggesting I would wear workout clothes to sell to a personal trainer. What I am suggesting, is that to be truly effective in sales you need to be intentional about what you wear and how you present yourself. Some days that might lend to wearing a suit and other days that might mean jeans, a collared shirt, and a pair of heels. What I wear each day always depends on my agenda for the day.
My featured outfit is the most typical outfit I wear during day to day business activities – it is not the most professional outfit in my wardrobe but also not the most casual business attire I own. My featured outfit consists of a versatile, navy suit jacket and a thin, pinstripe collared shirt both from Tommy Hilifiger. I like to pair my navy suit jacket with dark jeans from Reitmans and my favourite pair of brown heels from Spring. I finish this outfit off with some key accessories that are both functional and aesthetically consistent with the overall look. Those accessories include: Polo Ralph Lauren glasses, a Fossil watch, and a Fossil satchel.
Besides the retailers showcased in my featured outfit, I also shop for business attire at Banana Republic and RW & Co. When I am shopping, my main priorities are always convenience, versatility, and quality. I am very busy, so I prefer to shop at retailers that offer it – suit jackets, shirts, pants, and more. This allows me to go in and out, versus browsing through a number of stores for each item in my outfit. I also like to purchase clothes that are versatile and can be paired with multiple items already in my wardrobe. For example, I prefer to buy a shirt that works well with my black, navy, and grey suit jacket (or at least two of the three). Finally, I am always looking for quality. I invest the most money into my suit jackets, heels, and accessories because they get a lot of wear. In the past I have tried to “cheap out” on these items, only to find out I have to replace them far too often. If I spend a bit more on a suit jacket I obviously can get one that is of higher quality, which means it will last me for a few years without really showing its wear. By spending a bit more on these key items I usually end up saving money in the long run.
To of you aspiring entrepreneurs and business women out there, I want to leave you with these words that have served to inspire me over and over again in my entrepreneurial pursuits…
Enjoy the adventure,