May 18, 2011
By Juanita Ecker
Recently a friend contacted me about a sticky situation: Her employer has decided to no longer cover alcohol on company expense reports. I suspect this drastic measure was implemented because employees were taking advantage of the situation by, say, ordering a $90 bottle of wine because they knew the company would cover it.
My friend expressed concern, as she was recently out with one of her clients and the client wanted to order a beer with her dinner. What should she do if this happened again under the new policy? My friend felt it would have been rude to tell the client the expense was no longer covered, but wondered if she should pay for the beer herself in order to keep the client happy.
None of us would be happy covering other people’s alcohol expenses for business meals, yet we would not want to offend our clients by refusing to let them put a glass of wine on our tab. So what’s the right way to handle a ban or limit on company alcohol expenses? Read the rest of this entry »
May 4, 2011
By Juanita Ecker
Many people dream of working from home. It’s convenient, your time is more or less your own, and you can work in a space that’s more creative and intimate than a tiny cubicle. But in reality, it can be difficult to focus on your work and get into business mode when you are surrounded by family members, not to mention a million other distractions like a TV, the family pet, and neighbors who want to pop in for a chat.
If you’re going to ever get any work done and help your business grow, it’s vital that you set boundaries for your home office. The following tips will get you on the right track.
Make some room. It’s crucial that you have a dedicated work space where you handle all of your business matters. Your bedroom, kitchen, and living room should be reserved for your personal life. If, however, your home is too small for an office, at the very least have a dedicated desk in an area where you are unlikely to be distracted. Right by the TV is probably not a great idea! Setting up a phone line that is only used for business is also ideal.
Have a back-up. A home office isn’t necessarily the best place to hold a client meeting—it feels too informal. If you can’t go to the client’s place of business, look into renting an office suite for the day (some hotels and large office buildings offer this). Or, suggest a lunch meeting at a nice restaurant that is conveniently located to both of you. You should also find a nearby café or library where you can escape should the neighbors be doing noisy renovations, or if someone is mowing the lawn. Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2011
By Juanita Ecker
I was just reading the April issue of Lake Murray Magazine and saw this headline on the cover: “Tie one on for the Cup–an ode to the bow tie, an essential accessory for the Carolina Cup gentleman.”
“Men who wish to project a different, daring or distinguished style choose to tie up their fashionable loose ends in a handsome bow tie,” the article read, explaining that men can elevate their look from “done to dapper” by wearing a bow tie.
It seems that in the South, a bow tie paired with a suit is quite fashionable for formal social occasions. But as I read the article, I wondered about how the bow tie is received in the business arena? Is it outdated? Inappropriate? Or merely a striking personal style statement?
I get asked this question all the time in my dress seminars. “Can I wear a bow tie at the office and still be viewed as credible,” men ask. Being from the Northeast, I used to say, “Absolutely not!” However, now that I am living in the South, my view has changed.
Now, I have two major considerations with regards to this look. The first is, where does the client live? The bow tie is much more accepted in the South. When I am out to dinner at nice restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina, I see lots of businessmen wearing bow ties. Up north, and, indeed, most of the country, a bow tie is a rarity and therefore more likely to be seen as unconventional. Read the rest of this entry »