How to avoid pride and promote your small business at the same time
Updated: Jan 18
Confession time: The sin I struggle with most is pride. I play it off pretty well most of time externally, but internally, I am constantly thinking about how I can make a name for myself, how I can move ahead and be the best, all me, me, me.
And yep, the slogan of my company is to do the very opposite of that (for His greater glory), but I fall short. A lot.
In retrospection, I believe a lot of it stems from insecurity. I am an extremely sensitive person. I need constant validation and thrive on feeling important. I am a perfectionist and hate to make mistakes. So the antidote for that is pride. I am constantly on the prowl for ways to build myself up, and if no one else provides them for me, then I congratulate myself internally and seek new ways to be applauded.
Why am I confessing this seeming personality flaw that just needs adjustment on my business's blog? Well, first, this whole post is a huge, big piece of humble pie for me.
But secondly, as I contemplated how I could begin to correct this fault, I began to realize that it was almost the exact opposite of everything I need to do in business. As a small business owner, I have to promote myself; otherwise my company will die very quickly. Even more so, I have to promote myself as an expert on the topics of Catholic marketing and evangelization to convince people that my work and consultations are worth having.
So how do I promote myself without being proud? I wrote this in my Every Sacred Sunday journal last night: "How do I be humble and self promote as a business owner?"
So when I finished that not-so-fun self reflection before Mass last night, I looked up and asked God how to fix it. And He answered.
The first message was on the personal side: that He loves me and thinks I'm important, so that should be enough. Touché. Easier said than done, but can't really argue with that.
The second answer, related to business promotion, came this morning. I had just woken up, said my quick, now-rote morning prayer, and was about to pick up my phone when I remembered an article I'd read from the Sisters of Life magazine yesterday. The article encouraged taking just a few moments to really talk to God before picking up the phone. So I did. And what I heard was this: "Boast in me. When you're feeling prideful, boast in me instead of yourself."
That sounded familiar, so a quick Google search pulled Galatians 4:16: "But far be it from me to glory (some versions say boast) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
So that's part of the answer. But zooming out further to look at the whole chapter, we see Paul concluding his letter to the Galatians talking about some Christians boasting in their having been circumcised, making them more faithful than Christians who were not. Essentially, Paul is calling them out on that idea and telling them that circumcision means nothing: "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Galatians 6:15).
Let's face it: If we don't market and promote ourselves as small business owners, we're never going to make it. And I'm pretty sure that God didn't put these crazy big ideas on our hearts for no reason.
To banish pride from our marketing, then, we have to look at our intentions, which requires the ability to be honest with ourselves.
For example, I recently started being more active on LinkedIn. I realized it was a pretty sparse space for Catholics, and I believe that by establishing myself as an authority on evangelization, I can attract more new clients and thus help others with evangelization. All of that leads to God's glory, and while I am promoting myself in the process, the intention is good.
But then there is something like an idea I've been holding onto for a long time that I just don't have the skillset to make happen. I wish I did, and maybe I will someday, but I just don't right now. It's something that could make people's lives a lot easier and inadvertently bring God glory. I could give it away to someone who could capitalize on it, turn it into a product to help others, and maybe even make some money for their family. But instead, I want the glory. I want to be the foundress of this amazing idea, so much so that I'm sacrificing people's ease in the process. It's leading back to me, not to God or others, and therefore I know that it is a bad kind of pride in marketing.
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate our pride as we promote our businesses:
Whose glory am I truly seeking, mine or God's?
Will this work impact others positively and point them towards God? Or will it point them towards me first?
Will others learn more about God through my work and actions?
When I picture this idea at its fulfillment, what comes to mind first? The joy it will bring to others or others thanking or praising me for it?
Would I be happy if someone else came up with this idea first or was able to serve someone better than I am, or would I be jealous or envious?
If the answer is our own glory in any circumstance, then it's time to ditch that plan and come up with a new one, as difficult as that may be.
Listen, it's okay to be proud of yourself for a job well done. And it's certainly okay to talk about and promote our ministries (in fact, we have an obligation to if it is going to help someone or bring someone to Christ!).
But always remember HOW you got it all done: Jesus. He gave us these ideas and ministries, and He can take them away. If you can honestly look at it all and be at peace with that, then you are successfully marketing without pride.