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Starting A Business? Why.

Thinking about starting a business? You’d better think first about why you’d ever do such a thing.

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Businesses fail every single day. I’m sure every person reading this has known someone who had a business fail, witnessed a business they grew up with go under or had business failures of their own. More often than not, the reason for that failure goes hand in hand with blaming an outside influence. It’s easy to push the blame on to a corporation and say you can’t compete. But is that really what’s going on? In this article, let’s dive a little deeper into why some businesses fail, and some succeed.

Let’s first reframe the way we look at the word “business”. Remove the skyscrapers, the corporate board meetings, the company credit cards, and the suits that cost more than my entire shop put together. Business is nothing more than the selling of goods and/or services. That’s it. I have a product. You need my product. I give you my product and you give me something in return. Typically that is money, in today’s society. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Everybody can therefor just create something, sell it, and become successful, correct? Not so much. Although the act of creating something may be simple enough, there is far more needed to succeed. You need to have a reason as to why you’re starting a business.

And that reason needs to be a very good one.

Let’s rewind to June of 2018. Your friendly woodworking bear was not in a good place at that time. Coming off the heels of a decision to admit defeat and stop trying for children after 4 years and no luck, I was crushed inside. Hope was entirely lost. My marriage with my lovely wife, who I had been with since I was 17 years old, was hanging on by the skin of its teeth. We were both full of pain, watching the years tick by and not being able to hear our baby’s laugh, or rock her to sleep. In such a scenario, it is not hard to believe that I replayed every poor choice I had made in my life, hyper analyzed every hurtful word I’d ever said (especially to my wife), and wondered if this was God’s punishment. The breaking point was finally reached and I, a 6’3″ full bearded giant, collapsed in the shower weeping. I prayed, and begged, for God to not take this from my wife. Punish me as you wish, but don’t take this from her. 2 weeks later she was pregnant.

Fast forward to March 4th, 2019. After 40 hrs of labor with no sleep and no food, my wife was rushed into an emergency c-section. Barely coherent, pumped full of morphine, terrified, and blood pressure so high that the nurses were becoming concerned for her heart. 20 minutes later, I heard my baby girl cry for the first time, and laid eyes on the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in this world. She was perfect in every conceivable way. She was everything I had dreamed of for years, and so much more.

A few months, and an unfathomable amount of sleep deprivation later, I began thinking about our financial situation. 9 bulging discs, a neck injury that will never heal, a crushed spinal cord in 3 locations, a crushed vagus nerve, sciatica in my left leg, and chronic migraines all from a horrific car accident 9 years prior left me incapable of holding down a full time job. It was time to stop working odd jobs to make ends meet, and take control. God blessed me with a daughter, and I was going to answer that call and do everything within my power to ensure that she had a good upbringing. So I went into my horribly neglected garage, so packed with the accumulation of a million things that found there way in there that I couldn’t walk a straight line from one end to the other, and began cleaning. Cleaning turned into reorganizing. Reorganizing turned into building cabinets on the wall and work stations. I had no idea what I was doing yet, but I knew I needed a clean area before I could even begin the process of figuring out what the right path was.

Eventually I landed on woodworking. I had entertained the idea of building overlanding trailers, but I didn’t have nearly enough space. Next idea was custom knife making. I quickly shelved that when I began researching the startup costs. So, woodworking it was. I grew up watching my father build stuff, and had done a fair bit of crude building on my own since. I didn’t even know what I was going to build yet, but I knew it was going to involve wood.

Now, that was a long story. You may be thinking “Woodshop Bear, we don’t need your life story, we need business advice”. To that, I’ll ask you to go to the top of this article and re-read the first 3 paragraphs.

The name of my business is Little Bear Woodshop. When our first born daughter was still in the womb, our nickname for her was Little Bear. Upon creation of this business, I thought of many great potential names, but this business was founded with the intention of passing it on to our children when we are too old to continue on with it. But more important than the passing along of a business, I want to pass along the lessons of hard work, of never giving up, and of taking care of your family. That picture above this article contains our logo. At first glance, one could easily get the impression that this was a gimmicky way to capitalize on the bear community. But there is a much deeper meaning to why I chose it as the final logo design for our company. The day after we came home from the hospital, I did what every new father does and put my daughter’s hand in mine. I marveled at how small it was. I wept, holding her hand in mine. I still felt unsure about what my path in life was, and was still harboring a considerable amount of insecurity about myself. Staring at her hand in mine, with tears rolling down my cheeks into my beard, I realized that none of that mattered anymore. The life I lived prior to her arrival, full of copious amounts of overthinking, self doubt, self pity more times than I’d care to admit to, and constantly being hypercritical of myself was over. Looking at that tiny hand, seeing how she had no control or dexterity yet, reshaped my entire view of the world and my own life.

That little paw is hers, inside of mine. I am her protector, her provider, and she is entirely dependent on her mother and I. I designed that logo myself, knowing that in the future when times became hard and I felt like giving up, I would need a constant reminder of why I was doing this. And you’d better believe that after carving 60 wooden spoons by hand with a hook knife over the course of 2 weeks, with blisters so big I couldn’t fully bend my fingers and hands wrapped in cloth and bandages so as to not get blood on the products I was making, I looked at that logo. And it gave me a strength like nothing else could have, and I continued on through the pain. When I wanted so desperately to take a day off after working 8 to 12 hours a day in that shop, every single day, for over 6 months straight, I looked at that sign and said “I can do more today”. This feeling grew exponentially with the recent birth of our second baby girl. As our family grows, so does my desire to provide. That well has not run dry once since I became a father.


Want to start a business? You’d better think long and hard about why you want it. These times that I’m describing are not exclusive to woodworking. In any business endeavor, there will come a point where you feel utterly defeated and you’re ready to give up. If you’re starting a new business you will work so hard, for so long, with so little reward, that exhaustion will not even begin to express what you feel. It is crucial that you have something to push you through that, as that’s often when things are about to start turning around. Businesses fail because people running them either didn’t have something to hold onto when they started, or they somehow lost it along the way. When faced with a challenge, that motivation will be what drives you to adapt in whatever way you need to in order to keep it going. Without that motivation, you will succumb to the stress, the challenges, and the fear.

He who starts a business for riches or fame will eventually fail when presented with a storm. He who starts a business for his family will teach himself how to waterproof his boots, which he also taught himself how to make, before marching into the storm.

I worked for 6 months straight to prepare for the local Farmers Market here in Portland, OR. I lost my spot overnight due to new covid regulations that shrunk the usable space by over 1/3 of its total. I had over $10,000 in finished products sitting on shelves in my shop ready to go. I took a breath, and began taking pictures of all of it to put into our online store. I started researching what tools were needed to make new products. I brainstormed new designs for cutting boards, started researching where to source new hardware, and continued on. My baby will not go hungry because I faced a challenge. That small paw holds food in its hand because this big paw is blistered, cut, bruised, and aching.

I encourage all of you who are thinking or dreaming about starting a business to find that reason why before you even take the first step. To those who have a business already, take a moment to remind yourselves. Listen to your children laugh, look at their smiling faces, or imagine what they will look like if you have yet to experience the wonder that is parenthood. Anybody can sell a cutting board. Very few can carve 60 spoons when every hand movement causes wincing pain.

Onward, my friends!

-Woodshop Bear

Business

New Product Announcement From Ferrell Custom Wood Designs

We have combined our passion for music with my Dad’s passion for woodworking to bring you our exciting new product, Wooden Cell Phone Amplifiers, that require no power!

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Hobbit Bear here from Ferrell Custom Wood Designs. We have combined our passion for music with my Dad’s passion for woodworking to bring you our exciting new product, Wooden Cell Phone Amplifiers, that require no power! They come in different selections of pine, cedar, and oak for various acoustic tone options. So you can amplify your favorite music or podcast, and custom fit any cell phone to boost your sound on the go, at family picnics, in your garden, or your work area. Just drop your cell phone in the holder, crank up the volume on your phone and enjoy your favorite music or podcast.

Please message me on The Beartaria Times App @Thehobbitbear to get yours today. It’s easy to ship and affordable at only $60, with shipping straight to the comfort of your home. Keep up with all my latest products and music on BTA page as well.

I want to thank you all for your support and, as always, onward to Beartaria!!!

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Arts and Crafts

Too Many Mittens

My mom has always loved seeing her children be creative, so she was thrilled when I showed interest in learning how to make mittens. So, in 2016, she taught me how to make wool sweater mittens.

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By: Charity (@trailerparkgirl on BTA)

My mom started making wool sweater mittens sometime around 2014. She got the idea from visiting a local Mennonite-owned store. She found patterns online and started out just making them for the family. We’re a family of ten, so there are plenty of us to make mittens for.

In 2015, at eighteen, I became her right-hand businesswoman and began photographing her mittens and selling them on Etsy. My younger sister, Madeline, drew the mitten in the shop logo.

My mom called her shop “Too Many Mittens.” She may or may not have gotten the idea for the name from the 1958 children’s book “Too Many Mittens.”

It’s one of a few books she remembers from her childhood. My mom grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the story takes place in Michigan. 

My mom has always loved seeing her children be creative, so she was thrilled when I showed interest in learning how to make mittens. So, in 2016, she taught me how to make wool sweater mittens. I found them to be pretty simple to make. Very fun, too. I already had some experience with sewing, so it didn’t take long to get the hang of mitten-making. The excitement of pairing different wool sweater fabrics together and adding cool buttons to the cuffs was enough to get me hooked.

We make the mittens out of wool sweaters from thrift shops. And we line the mittens with fleece. My mom and I have had a blast sifting through thrift shop clothes racks in search of funky wool sweaters. We’ve gone through hundreds of wool sweaters in the past several years. Sometimes I see a sweater that I love so much that I’m tempted to keep it for myself to wear. But then I think, “Nah, that’ll make some really cool mittens.”

A few years ago, I invested in an embroidery sewing machine and lots of machine-embroidery thread. It’s been lots of fun to play around with different designs on mittens. They really give mittens extra character. The machine was definitely worth it. And it was fairly affordable. I use a Brother SE625. 

Now, in 2022, my mom is far too busy for making mittens. She’s focused on helping raise some of her grandchildren. So, my mom decided to let me take over Too Many Mittens. I’m planning on adding other handcrafted goods to our shop in the future, like cold-process soap. I’ve been playing around with soap-making since 2018. I’m currently working on perfecting recipes. My goal is to have soap available by Spring 2023. I’m even trying to get my younger sister to design the labels for the soap. After all, it is tradition. 

One day, I hope my mom will have some extra time on her hands so that she can get back into making mittens. She really enjoyed it, just like I do. Together, we have sold over 350 pairs of mittens. I’m grateful for the time we’ve been able to bond because of our mutual love of mitten-making. If I ever have a daughter of my own, I plan to teach her how to make wool sweater mittens and so many other wonderful things.

Visit my Etsy shop, Too Many Mittens, Here!

Bears get 15% off with the code: TRAILERPARKGIRL

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Business

What Time is it? SLIME TIME!

“I want to start my own business. I want to start a slime shop. I’ve wanted to do that for years!”

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By: Winki Bear

Ever since our daughter was two years old, she has always had the desire to please people. She wanted to start a home restaurant where she could create her own menu. When people would get their bill, she wanted it to say “FREE .”Through the years of her childhood, we have taught her the value and importance of hospitality and giving and how that can meld together with the value of her time and skills. Teaching her what costs and benefits mean through her weekly allowance for doing her chores and coaching her through the spending and saving process was an important step for her to realize that her hard work of cleaning the house every week will end up as a good or service of her choice if she desires it. Once that concept sank in, she was ready for the next step. 

Since the beginning of her educational path, Norah has always been homeschooled. However, when we moved to Missouri in December of 2021, we were now out of the city, away from family and away from tons of distractions. As we got settled, since we don’t live on a farm or have a huge plot of land to work yet, like many bears here in Missouri do, my husband and I realized she had a lot more time on her hands. So, we decided one day to sit down with her and have a loving conversation.

“Ok, Love, we have some options for you to think about. You have a lot more time available outside of your schooling now, and we want you to choose how you are going to fill that time. You can either pick a school subject, an extra-curricular activity you would like to expand upon, or start your own business.” 

It did not take her long to choose. “I want to start my own business. I want to start a slime shop. I’ve wanted to do that for years!” “Perfect!” We were excited to start this adventure with her but wanted to do it in the right way so she would get the best education out of this experience and have a lot of fun. 

The first thing we did was discuss with her what her brand wanted to be and what her shop was going to be called. “Products are so fun to make, but the brand and image of your shop are what sells your product.” This took time and a lot of rough drafts. We had her draw out a few logos and play with quite a few names. She finally settled on Boba Bear Slimes. She chose that because she loves boba tea, she is a bear, and the last part is obvious. We sent her rough draft logo to Bytesize Bear, who is a master at digital art, and she created what is now Norah’s logo for Boba Bear Slimes. The next thing was for her to start a slime journal. She needed to create an outline for her business. What products would she need? Where would she find these products, and how much will they cost? What will her packaging and shipping of the products look like, and what would she need for that? How is she going to label her products? Being supportive through this process was key, as she was only nine years old when she started this adventure. We incorporated all of these tasks with her homeschooling curriculum, so it wasn’t overwhelming. Once she had this outlined, she then moved on to writing down the slimes she wanted to create. Norah keeps a log of every slime with the name, the type of texture it is, the scent, the color, and the add-in that comes with it. Then comes the fun part, making the slime. 

It didn’t take too long to acquire all the essentials for creating her little individual masterpieces of art. Once she had everything, she started bringing her hard-outlined work into reality. Mixing glue, dye, scents, glitter, and the like in big batches was just the beginning. Putting the semi-sticky and wet textured slime into jars and giving them name labels, scent information, and in some cases, price tags along with the most important, the Boba Bear Slime logo, is just as long of a process as making the gloppy toy itself.    It takes Norah about three days to create a batch of 24 slime jars. She also attaches a complimentary bag of ‘Activator’ with instructions just in case the slime gets too sticky, which happens over time. With every slime she sells, she also gives a sweet treat which is her way of saying “Thank You” for supporting her shop.  

Boba Bear Slimes was first created in July of 2021 and was first introduced to the realm at The First National Beartaria Times Festival right here in Missouri. Since then, she now sells her products in a local downtown boutique here in Lebanon, Missouri, called Crazy Daisy Boutique. She has her own Etsy shop and has attended two craft fairs which she has almost sold out of her slimes every time. Norah has learned the value of hard work and organization and how much it pays to stay focused and persistent, and consistent. Her advice to anyone who wants to start their own business: “It’s not as easy as you would think. Do a lot of research. Don’t just jump right into it. It’s not going to be as easy as watching a YouTube video. They had to plan things and make rough drafts and create logos and figure out financial details. If you follow your passion, it will always lead to success.” 

You can find her products on Etsy, the Beartaria Times app by contacting Norah @Bright Light Bear, or locally in the Crazy Daisy Boutique in Lebanon, Missouri. 

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