Publish Date: December 13, 2021 | Last Update: Jan 12, 2023
Next Scheduled Review - July 2023
Who We Are
I’m Maggie Patterson (she/her), a writer, podcaster, communications professional and business consultant.
I’m grateful to work on the traditional, stolen and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People and I want to acknowledge the land and the Indigneous peoples whose land we occupy with the deepest respect.
Generations of First Nations, Intuit and Métis people have been subjected to horrific abuses at hands of white settlers in Canada, and we extend our condolences to those grieving the loss of children at residential schools, as well as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
This page is designed to provide you with context and background on how we operate as a company, and what you can expect from us.
To learn more about me, including a disclosure of my privileges and past teachers, you can view them here.
What We Believe
We believe that online business is the future, as it offers small, independent business owners a way to create freedom and flexibility, while building a more equitable world.
However, the status quo of online business is built on a prescriptive, privileged playbook that serves only a select few.
Celebrity entrepreneurs shill bullshit that teaches us to consume and exploit our way to so-called freedom, but is really about replicating systems of oppression.
They weaponize our hope and trust against us.
BS Free Business is designed to provide consumer education, business mentoring and be a voice for doing business by putting trust first. We exist as an alternative to the oppressive norm of online business, and to shine a light on how to do business without these practices.
Our goal is to educate, encourage and support our clients and community in working for collective liberation through our individual businesses.
Our goal is to be an alternative to the status quo of online business, and to do so, we’re committed to being accessible through our content, programs and pricing. Plus, we’re focused on being accessible to all, through the use of alt text, captioning and transcription, and this is an ongoing priority.
Part of being accessible is to ensure we’re not gatekeeping information behind the pay wall. We create a wide array of content in multiple formats to ensure our work of consumer education and advocacy can have the widest impact. That content includes the BS-Free Service Business show, Duped: The Dark Side of Online Business and our blog.
Being bold is about breaking the rules and the status quo. It’s being brave even when it’s risky or uncomfortable, and working to dismantle systems of oppression. We want to help you do the same in your business, and show up as the badass you are.
Being an Expert
We stand for being an expert at what you do, and not inventing authority or faking it. For this industry to change, we need to own our expertise and stop allowing those without true authority to steal our time, attention, or money.
This isn't about restricting access or requiring traditional education, but instead each of us defining the scope of our expertise, and not embellishing or exaggerating.
Real harm is being done every day in the online business world, from messing with people’s mindsets, to making magical promises, to getting them to “invest” in courses and programs they don’t need.
Business isn’t a transaction and we want people to be treated with the respect they deserve. Our TrustDNA™ framework has respect included as one of the five trust factors and this is reflected in all of the work we do.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but the truth is missing from so much of what we see every day in online business.
This industry has been built on the idea that “I did and you can too”, while failing to disclose privileges that allowed them to accomplish those goals. This version of success is built on a narrow set of experiences and sets up unrealistic expectations. From reckless revenue claims to overpromising results, we’re bombarded with a narrative of what success looks like, when really, what’s portrayed is only a fraction of the full story.
Our goal is to be consistent in telling the truth, while leading with our authority and values.
Internally, our work on building a BSFree Business® is guided by the TrustDNA Method.
Our work is guided by multiple frameworks as well as an intersectional feminist praxis and anti-oppression work including:
- Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Socialization
- Barbara J Love’s Liberatory Consciousness Framework
- TARES Test: Five Principles for Ethical Persuasion by Sherry Baker and David L. Martinson
- BITE Model of Authoritarian Control by Dr. Steven Hassan
Our work has been informed by:
- Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
- Teachings in the Feminist Coach Academy - I completed FCA certification in 2021
- Do No Harm from Nicole Lewis Keeber (in progress)
- Trauma and Journalism training from Poynter
- Trauma of Money Professional Path Certification (in progress)
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we’ll update this as our practice evolves and changes over time.
The BS Free Business community consists of both paid clients, as well as podcast listeners and social media followers.
While our primary commitment is to our paid clients, these commitments may extend to our broader community.
Guidelines for how we consent to be engaged on our primary social media platform Instagram, can be found here. We’re open to dialog, but when that crosses into demands or critique without context, or disrespect, that’s where it’s over the line, and is a one-way ticket to being blocked.
It’s worth noting that social media represents only a fraction of the work we create and we fully recognize that we’re often dealing with complex, layered and nuanced issues. For context, we encourage you to read or listen to our essays and podcast episodes for the complete picture.
We're focused on equity by design. We value and support all identities including (but not limited to); race, gender, abilities, LGBTQIA2SP+, age, and religion.
We’re deeply committed to continuously improving our business practices to prioritize equity of all groups. Within our community, the expectation is that the safety of all identities takes priority over our individual comfort.
All members of our paid programs are bound by a community code of conduct to this effect.
Dialogue Over Dominance
We reject hierarchical power structures and forms of communication. With our clients, and community, we’re focused on having an open and ongoing dialogue.
We view our conversations as a collaboration and we commit to being self-aware of our position and any potential power dynamics. We believe in your personal sovereignty including self-determination, self-respect and self-trust.
In our work together, our role is one of a consultant where we’re a collaborator, a contributor, and conspirator to help you make things happen. You’re the ultimate decision maker, and our support is based on your ongoing consent.
For clients, consent is a vital part of our work together, and you can withdraw it anytime.
We’ll refresh consent throughout our work together, including, but not limited to: when providing feedback, when new developments arise and when handling confidential information. You reserve the right to change your mind as we work together and our relationship evolves or changes.
For equity to be a reality, even within the context of our businesses, we need to start with community care. As explained by Nakita Valerio, community care is “people committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another in various ways.”
Community care requires us to move away from transactional business relationships to ones rooted in empathy, compassion and kindness.
In practice, community care within the BS Free Business community is practiced on an ongoing basis by providing a supportive container for our paid clients. We’ll be creating a Community Care Plan by mid-2023 to detail specific practices and actions.
We all contain multitudes, which for many of us, includes trauma. We are actively working to become trauma aware and recognize that trauma may be a passenger in our work together.
With trauma awareness, this means we don’t have the training or skill to address it. Still, we’ll treat it with care and if needed, make recommendations, referrals and connections to other professionals equipped to assist you.
Additionally, in our content, we’re committed to providing trigger and content warnings.
I’m committed to citing my sources, fact-checking and naming our teachers. The borrowing and recycling culture of online business is deeply rooted in privilege, entitlement and systems of oppression.
Furthermore, we ask that if our work inspires you that you cite us consistently and generously. Give credit where credit is due.
“Citation is feminist memory. Citation is how we acknowledge our debt to those who came before; those who helped us find our way when the way was obscured because we deviated from the paths we were told to follow.”
– Sarah Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life
As part of my work with Feminist Coach Academy, we have created a detailed action and accountability plan.
Here are key actions we’re committing to for 2023:
Content and Community
- Amplifying marginalized voices with our podcast. (Ongoing)
- Supporting under-resourced creators in their work. (Ongoing)
- Creating a community care plan outlining specific actions. (Mid 2023)
- Continuing to build our language resource library and turning this into a community resource. (Q1 2023)
- Ensuring the accessibility of our content via captioning, alt text, image descriptions and transcription, as well as updates to our website. (Ongoing)
- Paying guest teachers in our programs. Honorariums are based on compensation for the time and prep required for these sessions. (Ongoing)
Leadership and Operations
- Reviewing our annual giving plan and determining giving guidelines for the year. In 2021 and 2022 we supported the following organizations: Downie Wenjack Foundation, NAACP, Reconciliation Canada, Row House Publishing, The Ottawa Food Bank, The Ten Oaks Project, ongoing plus mutual aid donations in Canada and the US. (Ongoing)
- Our Director of Client Service + Community, Sara, is enrolled in the Spring 2022 cohort of Feminist Coach Theory with the Feminist Coach Academy. (To be completed by mid 2023.)
- Ongoing leadership development for Maggie related to inclusion, equity and privilege. (Currently finishing the Trauma of Money Professional Path Certification.)
This isn't an exhaustive list, and we recognize that as the year progresses, new needs may arise, and we’ll revisit this periodically and make updates as appropriate.
We’ll make mistakes, and we want to be held accountable.
If you at any time feel that we’re out of alignment with the above, or have caused harm, we encourage you to reach you directly to Maggie at email@example.com to share the details.
We’ll promptly respond, and we may require further information. From there, we’re committed to listening, incorporating feedback, and collaborating with you to repair any harm. This may include specific actions, a timeline or other methods which we’ll work with you to mutually agree upon.
- A huge thank you to Nailah King at the Content Witches for their support on helping us craft the content for this page.
- Our values were developed in consultation with Danait Berhe at the Asmara Agency.
- Finally, gratitude to Brittany Berger at Work Brighter for modeling this level of disclosure as a business owner.