Choosing A Great Work Bag or Briefcase

The SmartBiz Small Business Blog doesn’t usually cover “fashion”. However, we’ll make an exception here. Every small business owner – male or female - needs one great accessory.  

A professional looking bag or briefcase organizes and holds what you need when you’re out and about.
Whether meeting with clients or customers, at a convention or taking a business trip, having a durable and functional bag or briefcase is a must. Here are some tips to review before you start shopping.


The first thing to consider is how you’ll use your bag. Are you carrying a laptop or tablet with you? Do you transport a lot of paperwork? Do you need room for samples? Answering these questions before you start shopping can save valuable time.

Shoulder Straps

To ensure that your bag won’t send you to physical therapy, select one with a strap that’s a comfortable width for your shoulder. Because a shoulder strap sits on the muscles located between your spine and your shoulder, it places pressure and stress there. If the shoulder strap is too narrow or too wide for this area, it will quickly begin to feel uncomfortable or even hurt. Put the bag on your shoulder and take a stroll around the store before you buy to make sure the strap width is a good fit for your frame.


Specific styles can make your bag look unprofessional. Stay away from obvious trends. Embrace a classic look that will stand the test of time.


Are you hard on your bag or briefcase? Choose real leather or a durable fabric. If fabric, find one that has been treated to be “weather resistant”. In addition to repelling the elements, a weather resistant treatment helps prevent stains.

Pockets, pockets and more pockets

The website Lifehacker lists useless pockets as the “sign of a crappy handbag”. Although lots of pockets and compartments seem to be a good bet, many of them simply won’t fit what you need to carry. Other pockets might be too large and your stuff will disappear into the darkness. Do a pocket audit to discover what works for you.


Chiropractors say your handbag or briefcase should not exceed 10% of your body weight. The lighter your bag is, the more things you can safely carry.


Leather bags need to be soft, not hard and plastic looking or squeaky. Non-leather bags made of material like canvas should be sturdy with an interior lining. The publication Real Simple advises to stay away from bags with handles that aren't stitched along the edges of the straps and that are only glued. Those handles will eventually come apart. Look for quality zippers and other hardware. Zippers should glide smoothly. Buttons and other clasps should open easily. Keep in mind that the more “parts” your bag has – like snaps, magnetic closures, etc. – the more ways your bag can break.

The savvy entrepreneur doesn’t want to break the bank but knows a great bag or briefcase is an investment. Choose the right one and it should carry you stylishly through the rollercoaster ride of small business ownership!

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