3 Unexpected Reasons Healing From Shame is Incredible for Business

Maggie Karshner
5 min readDec 12, 2023

In this article, I’m going to talk about an underlying piece of how we heal ourselves that helps us to succeed in business. This isn’t going to give you a to-do list of action items. It’s not going to reform your business model. It is likely to revolutionize the promotion of your business. But it’s going to take some potentially challenging introspection.

Business promotion and personal introspection are intrinsically linked in all self-employed businesses. When you are your business, promoting your business is promoting yourself. And working on your business is working on yourself. Capitalism weaponizes sales and marketing which is why self-promotion is so uncomfortable. It’s also why we need to start from the introspective side of things. If we look towards our own healing and the healing of our communities, there’s the opening for the vital role of self-worth and self-expression.

But this is all very abstract. Let’s get more concrete. This whole thought came about because I noticed a client explain the method they used to complete a task as “because I’m crazy like that.” It struck me. We all do things in subtle or not-so-subtly different ways. Sometimes we might be proud of an innovation, but more often it seems we’re ashamed for doing it the wrong way. Or maybe it’s more mild than that and we’re just self-conscious that we might not be doing it in the most efficient way.

The whole point (or at least a major selling point) of becoming self-employed is that you get to do things YOUR way. That’s regardless of if you’ve carefully thought through “your way” or if you didn’t think about it at all and this was what happened. Regardless you are doing things your way. And that’s awesome. Not just “nothing to be ashamed of” but something that you should really shout from the rooftops!

I know full well the desire to do things the “best” way. I also know what a strawman seeking the “best” is and always will be. First off we need to define “best.” Are we talking about the most efficient, most safe, most cost-effective? Then we need to unpack why we’re setting that goal as the best possible goal.

When looking at efficiency, it’s often not a useful goal. Humans are messy. Creative processes are far from efficient. Healing cannot be optimized for an efficient, cost-saving route. We don’t want to get rid of humans, creativity and healing. So let’s get rid of efficiency in circumstances that include these things. Many small businesses are in some way trying to bring about change, growth, or healing. Self-employed businesses involve a very important person (you, the owner!) and we all have healing to do. So let’s acknowledge that our businesses do not benefit from a priority of efficiency.

Now that I’ve deconstructed so much, let’s construct a more positive rationale. There are three key reasons why you need to celebrate that weird thing you do: only you can do it, it makes you happy, and you can’t be everything to everyone.

Only You Can Do It

When you do something a “weird” way, it’s possible that you’re the only one in the world who does it that way. That means the benefits you’re able to obtain are absolutely unique to you and your business. In business, we call this a differentiator. Many large businesses construct differentiators in an almost artificial way. For self-employed businesses, differentiators are uncovering and valuing your essential you-ness. If you don’t assume it’s a lesser way of doing something, then you can ask yourself the benefit for your clients. Don’t assume just because most people do it one way that there’s not a demand for it to happen your way. Do it your way and the folks who like it that way will work with you! (And neither of you will give those other folks a second thought!)

It Makes You Happy

I’m not sure if it’s our culture’s puritanical roots or my own catholic upbringing, but we sure do like to deny ourselves joy as a culture. Drink your pumpkin spice lattes, binge that reality show you love, and do whatever other cultural eye-roll you like. The fact that you like it is the only thing that really matters! This holds for trivial and significant options. Indulgence isn’t the only space for joy. You can have joy in your work world, especially if you’re running your own business! Construct your business in a way that supports your joy in every way you can think of!

You Can’t be Everything to Everyone

Things that make you happy aren’t going to work for every potential client. This is actually a good thing. Self-employed businesses don’t have the capacity to take on a large volume of clients. You need to be attractive to a relatively small number of potential clients. Putting your differentiators up front and center will attract perfect clients to you and scare away imperfect clients. And this is your goal!

Allow me to illustrate with an example. I’ve worked with clients with a variety of ideal schedules. I have people in the same industries organize their time as fewer hours across more days, or more hours across fewer days. e.g. 3 hours per day and 7 days per week vs. 7 hours per day and 3 days per week.

At the less-hours-more-days end of the spectrum, customers benefit from a wider variety of days for meetings, and, if needed, to reschedule. On the more-hours-fewer-days end, their customers benefit from access to more odd hours (before/after typical work hours) and simplicity in not having to try to reschedule when the need to take a sick day. Yes, there are downsides. That first schedule might only have availability in the early afternoon and there are no other times of day available. For the second schedule, times are only available Tues through Thurs and a customer will never meet with you on a Monday.

There are pros and cons to both ends of the spectrum, no matter what facet we’re looking at. When you’re doing it your way, celebrate the part that’s of benefit to the client, and don’t stress about the downsides. What this looks like in this example would be framing each schedule as: “Thanks to my schedule, rescheduling to a later day in the week is easy!” and “Thanks to my schedule I’m able to offer early morning and late evening times!” Some people won’t see your way of doing things as a selling point. And that’s great. They are not your people!

You Do You Boo

Identify the ways you work best. Think of them as differentiators — as GOOD things that are selling points! Talk about them that way. Put them on your website in that way. Scare off the folks who won’t work well with you so you don’t have to discover that the hard way. Attract the people who thrive working the way you work. The people you attract will be the best customers to work with and the best cheerleaders for promoting your business to others! The decision to build your business to perfectly suit you is a key advantageous business move. It’s more than a recommendation, it’s a mandate.

Originally published at https://www.maggiekarshner.com on December 12, 2023.

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Maggie Karshner

Maggie is a business coach who helps launch and grow self-employed businesses. Learn how she could help you at https://www.maggiekarshner.com/