Insights for Growing a Shamanic Business
Each one of us has an Inner Shaman or True Self that carries unique medicine and great potential to bring love and healing to the world. The trick is that our ego, the very thing that gives us the capacity to express our gifts, is also not innately fond of getting out of the way for our medicine to come through.
The shamanic path has a wonderful knack for initiating us onto a path where true service is possible. This happens through years of healing work and practices like prayer, nature-connection, and ceremony. Practices that help us cultivate more wholeness and clear fear patterns from past traumas, imprinting, karmas, ancestral wounds and the like.
When the ego reaches a certain level of maturity, it becomes a more willing vessel, able to trust and take a back seat to the Higher Self. Doing so makes space for our medicine to ripen, and when the time is right, for Spirit to move through us in some unique form of service to the world.
Because of my background in business and marketing, as well as my commitment to the shamanic path, many people in my community have come to me when they reach this time in their lives. They often ask me for business advice or to help them start a new venture.
What I’ve noticed over years of doing this, is two things—first, shamanic businesses don’t exactly behave like other businesses. They seem to require a unique approach that invites conscious collaboration with Spirit.
I’ve come to think of this relationship, between a shamanic business owner and their business, like one of parent and child. It starts with calling in a mysterious expression of the Great Spirit that is longing to enter the world in material form, creating a container for the form to gestate and develop, then laboring to give birth to it. And after all that, investing years of love and energy so it can grow and realize its potential in the world.
And just like a child, it doesn’t go well when its parent tries to impose their ideas about who it should be, how it should look, how fast it should mature, etc. Rather, it works much better for the parent to make space for it, to be a guide to it and help it come into an authentic expression of itself.
The second thing I’ve noticed is that there are many ways that modern marketing practices are highly relevant and can contribute greatly to the success of a shamanic business. Yet many shamanic business owners seem to be resistant or ignorant when it comes to putting these practices to effective use.
Below I have compiled a few key learnings from my own experience as they relate to these issues. My prayer is that they help you in some way on your path of service. After all, wouldn’t it be great to see an economy fueled by thriving shamanically-inspired businesses?
BREAK THROUGH THE BELIEF THAT YOU AREN’T GOOD AT MARKETING
First things first, you can learn marketing. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me feeling powerless to effectively market themselves. Often times they seem to be operating under a belief that they just need to find the right person, someone who is good at marketing, and their problems will be solved.
In my experience, no one can really market your problems away for you– similar to the way no one can really do your healing for you. You are inherently part of the problem, and the solution to your business woes.
Yes, you can hire a business coach, and that is probably a good idea. Yes, you can hire help when you are ready to promote your offerings. Also a good idea. But an essential component of marketing happens in the womb, long before the service or product ever goes to market. This is where you absolutely have to take responsibility for your marketing. And tending (or not tending) to this gestation period, will have a huge impact on your success when you are ready to start selling.
So my first recommendation is to stop telling yourself you aren’t good at marketing. Instead, make a commitment to learn marketing, and start believing in your ability to do so.
STOP LEADING WITH WHAT
Marketing is based in understanding what motivates people to take action. To learn this psychology, you have to stop thinking about and talking about your work based on WHAT you do. This is the least inspiring, least motivating aspect of what you have to offer to someone.
In other words, I am suggesting that you do not market yourself as a shamanic practitioner (or whatever healing modality is central to your work). Of course your methods, training and healing modalities are essential to your capacity for service, and should appropriately play a supporting role in your sales pitch. But these details do not connect with the heart of why anyone would want to buy your service and they do not belong at the front of your pitch.
Instead, you need to find and focus on your WHY1, the purpose of your work. This is the reason your service exists and the thing that will effortlessly sell people on working with you. Here’s an example.
Someone owns a boat. They want to start a business giving boat tours. They walk around town telling tourists and vacationers,
I have a boat and I have tons of experience driving it. I can take you out on the lake. Come with me!
Another boat owner in the community is inspired by the possibility of giving boat tours too, so they also start walking around town with their offer. But their pitch is different-
Did you know there is an incredible island in the middle of the lake with pristine swimming beaches and a perfect picnic spot for lunch? Come with me, I can take you there!
The second pitch is way more compelling. That’s because it leads with purpose and it sells an experience. The purpose of the boat tour is not being on a boat or spending time with a boat driver. The purpose is to have a fun and adventurous day at the island. Enjoying the boat ride with a safe driver matters too, but it is not the point and focusing on it does not serve the pitch.
FIND YOUR WHY
Your WHY is the thing that sells your service for you. It is the reason people want to work with you. It is the island in the middle of the lake that you can help people reach. If you don’t know your WHY, the success of your business will be limited to only serving people who know they need the help of a shamanic practitioner.
These people (the ones attracted to your WHAT) are great clients who can provide affirmation and feedback as you develop your services. They are the people that will probably come to you no matter what you do or don’t do with your marketing.
But there is likely a much wider audience you can serve if you are able to connect with your WHY. Your WHY will open a door to anyone who has the deeper need that you serve (anyone who wants to get to the island), regardless of whether they even know what a shamanic practitioner is or that shamanic healing could help them get where they want to be.
So how do you find your WHY? There isn’t really a simple answer here. It is a unique and creative process for each business, but here are a few good practices to explore.
1. ANCHOR INTO YOUR MEDICINE
Start by connecting with yourself and the medicine you carry. Anchor into that. Maybe it is a feeling in your body, maybe there are images or objects or spirit guides that remind you of what it is like to be deeply connected to your medicine. Whatever these are for you, create a ritual for yourself that helps you anchor in. Make this something you do on a regular basis before tending to the sacred womb of your business vision.
One of my fail-safe rituals is to light a candle in the center of my altar and imagine it as a reflection of the flame that lives within my heart, the flame that fuels my life work. I sit with it in an eyes-wide-open meditation as long as I need to in order to remember and reconnect. When I have time, I enhance this ritual with a cup of ceremonial cacao. I know the practice is working when my mind is calm, I start to feel alive and at ease in my body, inspired with new ideas, and clear on my next steps.
2. LISTEN FOR A DEEPER NEED
The classic marketing question a successful business can effectively answer is this one– What problem does your business solve?
For most of my healer and practitioner clients this sends them straight into their head and becomes very confusing, very quickly. This is why starting with step 1 (anchor into your medicine) is essential.
From there, consider another way of asking the question: What common issue or challenge are you uniquely attuned to perceive? What difficulties are you most able to help people address? Where do you see the most unrealized potential and opportunity in the world? What is the deeper need, beneath all the story, that you are called to serve? You might take these questions into a drum journey and see what happens.
Often the answers will be deeply rooted in your life experience. They might be connected to some of the biggest challenges you have faced and overcome. Or they might be connected to some unique knowledge you gained through a string of “random” life events. After you do your journey work, start journaling and see what comes.
Here’s an example from my own life.
Years ago I had the experience of accidentally starting a web design business. I happened to have a baseline of web design skill, and friends started asking me to help them build their websites. As my business grew I became uniquely attuned to a certain set of challenges that my clients (primarily healers) tended to have.
They came to me wanting a website that would help them attract clients for a new or existing business. This was their conscious desire and what led to our initial connection. But beneath that, I discovered a deeper need. Many of them were actually unprepared to launch or grow a successful business and needed some guidance on how to do so.
That led me to start working with my clients on basic business development processes. But we consistently came upon a major roadblock. None of them could identify the problem their business was designed to solve. So even deeper beneath their need for business guidance, was a need to see their medicine more clearly and understand its value and relevance in the world. This was a need I was uniquely attuned to serve. This became my WHY.
The process I’ve begun to outline in this article is an introduction to a much larger body of work that has evolved from these experiences. I will continue to share more of this in future articles. In the meantime, I wish you many blessings on your journey of discovering your WHY.