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Overcoming The Beast that is Self Doubt

How does one mitigate the self doubt felt when starting a new business venture?

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So you’ve decided to start a business. You’ve got a product or service in mind, you’ve got everything mapped out, and you’re excited about jumping in. Those dreams of finally severing the ties with (insert company you despise working for here) finally seem within reach. And then the self doubt begins.

When deciding to start a business, many people will inevitably fall victim to the ridiculous notion that in order to succeed they must create the best product known to man, or provide the best service that anybody has ever experienced. Although striving for excellence is a great trait to have and much better than the alternative, the idea that anything but the absolute best equates to failure is inherently false, and can do a lot of damage not only to your business, but yourself as well. I fell victim to this for a brief moment upon starting my business, and I’m going to share with you all how I navigated through the torrent of thoughts and emotions which boiled up at that time.

We live in a culture today that strives for perfection. You see it everywhere you look. Filters on every single camera, app, and video sharing platform. Mega corporations constantly telling you you’re not good enough, but their product will help you become better in some way. You’re not cool unless you have the newest phone, which is exactly the same as last years but with a larger price tag. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably broken through that spell and know it’s all nonsense. But the spell is by design, you can get a degree in it (Marketing), it is a multi billion dollar a year industry, and it is incredibly effective. When one is bombarded with both conscious and subconscious programming which tells them they are less than adequate, it eventually seeps in to the back of your mind and will manifest later in ways which many wouldn’t even correlate to the advertising.

Prior to the launch of my website, building my first product, or even knowing what it was that I was going to produce, the feelings of inadequacy crept in. And those feelings nearly stopped me from moving forward with something I was genuinely thrilled about making a reality. One day, while I was in the midst of building my shop, a thought popped into my head which both startled and unnerved me. “What are you doing all of this for? Nothing you’ve ever tried has worked out the way you wanted it to. You’re just wasting time. You’re broke, quit spending the little money you have on plywood and tools that you’ll never use. Give up”. And I nearly did. Were these thoughts a reflection of my woodworking ability? Absolutely not. I would consider myself a very decent woodworker by today’s standards. Were they because I know nothing about business, or building a website, or how to market my products? Couldn’t be that, as I did that years prior with a small business attempt making small batch beard care products. I searched for days trying to find the source of these thoughts which had taken ahold and were clinging on for dear life. Those few days were extremely trying, until I realized where it was all originating from.

I was indeed scared that I would fail miserably. And that fear was coming from the idea that I was, for some reason or another, contractually obligated to create a product that was superior to every comparable product in existence. As I think back to it now it’s quite funny, but at the time it was a sincere fear.

In today’s world people are starving. Starving for attention, starving for approval, starving for meaning and purpose. When one is existing in a state of mind where they’re not enough, it’s no far stretch of the imagination to conclude that they will prescribe that same inadequacy to every aspect of their life. I found myself falling victim to the “meaning and purpose” class of starvation. I had recently found my way home back to God, He had blessed my wife and I with a beautiful daughter, but I still felt like I was not living up to the call He put out. It is my belief that I somehow correlated the quality of the not yet decided upon products with the path God had ordained for me. As if there was a looming expectation of not only perfection, but grandeur, and anything less than that would be inexcusable. I was still tripping over cords and dropping tools on my feet while trying to build a shop, but in my head I was fighting battles against thoughts which were highly irrational.

Our daughter was around 8 months old when this happened. As a first time parent, I was enjoying every moment of this stage. She was becoming much more self aware, she was laughing hysterically, she was grabbing the spoon as it came towards her mouth because she wanted to try it herself. With each new milestone, I became more proud of her. While driving to the store one day, with a tear in my eye while thinking about how the last 8 months went by in a day, I had the revelatory realization that if I felt that much joy in my daughter for doing something as simple as holding a spoon, imagine how overjoyed God must be that I turned my entire life around, relinquishing the control all of my earthly desires had over me, and how I now want nothing more than to provide for my family. If I was that hurt when I had to use my dad voice to mildly scold my daughter when she yanked my beard harder than even the strongest man on earth could and she stuck her bottom lip out in response, how much hurt does God feel when millions of His children go down a path of conscious sin, or refuse to even attempt to live a life he would approve of? In that exact moment, I gained a much deeper understanding of God, of being a parent, of how those two are connected, and of how silly those feeling of inadequacy pertaining to business were. I didn’t care if my daughter stumbled while standing, and I did not expect her to go from crawling to running the first time she stood on her own. I was elated watching her grab hold of the couch and pull with all of her might until she was standing up, smiling and scanning the room to see if we had witnessed it. God does not expect perfection from day one either. Just improvement and a desire to do good. This calmed me tremendously, and I went back into the shop with a renewed and much stronger sense of optimism.

Do I make the best cutting boards on earth? Probably not. But I don’t need to, because my cutting boards are great, they’re affordable for the quality you’re getting, I’m very friendly with customers and those who support what I’m doing, and most importantly I’m trying and improving every day. If you’re starting a construction company, there is no stipulation that you must erect the finest house that has ever been built. Just build a good house that a family will call a home. We as humans are constantly over complicating things, as a result of decades of programming. Deprogram yourself, and realize it’s all nonsense. You don’t have to make the best product or provide the best service. Just make something good. Try. As people are starving for the aforementioned things, they are also starving for products that are simply good, and not made 6,000 miles away, and which will not break in 3 months. And they’re willing to pay a little extra for that quality. And in my experience they are delighted to support a small business here in the US who is doing just that. People are starving for service that is simply good. A short and friendly conversation with another real human being who happens to know how to fix your toilet or cut down the giant tree in your yard is not something that can be taught in marketing school.

As it turns out, you don’t have to recreate the wheel in order to succeed. You just need to sell a good wheel to someone who needs one.

One more word of advice, easily observed in the wild. In nature, the male lion may seem like he’s got it all, being the king. But he also has to risk his life fighting the other males who challenge him. If you desire perfection to the point of being the king of your industry, enjoy the endless lawsuits and ridiculous expectations from your customers that come with it. We recently saw many heads of the tech community testify before congress. What we didn’t see is the guy quietly running a small automotive shop in the country testifying before congress.

Do not let self doubt or irrational fear stop you from trying. You did not put that self doubt inside of your head. The people who don’t want you to dip into their billion dollar profits by starting your own business did. We need less mass production, and more of the masses producing.

Until next time bears. Onward!

-Woodshop Bear

Business

One Man’s Trash…

The smooth, soft feel of the flats and curves. The smell of the copper oxide on my skin and the sound of the various pieces as they fell into one another. It all intrigued me and seemed to intensify as time passed. 

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By: MrWhitBear

As a lifelong copperhead, I found myself wondering what I was going to do with this industrial storage tote filled to the brim with all things copper.  It was a treasure trove collected from years of being a commercial plumber. From the early years of re-plumbing our family’s laundromat business with my Pop to the water conditioning business, we started together that failed. That tote had been many a mile on more adventures than anyone of us could account for. After that final attempt, we closed that tote up and packed it away. 

I would open it from time to time to get something or drop something in and reminisce over pieces that brought me back to that moment and place. The jobs my wife and I worked together to make ends meet; So many pieces and parts in various states of patina. 

The smooth, soft feel of the flats and curves. The smell of the copper oxide on my skin to the sound of the various pieces as they fell into one another. It all intrigued me and seemed to intensify as time passed. 

We had always intended to just take it to the recycling center, and albeit nearly did when things got really lean in the last few years, (that’s another story.) 

But God in his mercies had another plan

Those rosey-colored bits of beauty were called out of that dusty old tote into the light and brought back to life for another purpose that I could have never imagined. 

Then one day, I realized that in my love for all things copper, I was not alone. 

Imagine my surprise when listening to a Biocharisma podcast and seeing the sultan of the Gardenians light up like a kid talking about copper garden tools. My mind wandered off to that tote. 

“Huh, I wonder.” 

Over the years, all sorts of odd inventions were created from that box of scraps, but this was by far on another level of magnitude; could it be done?

My dad’s voice echoed through my head 

“See a need fill a need, son.”

The Bears need copper tools to make their gardens flourish. Many tools were forged out of that treasure trove of leftovers, and we’ve had to buy most of this year’s supply to keep up with demand. 

The first trowel had to go to Topher as a tribute to the legend for the inspiration, of course. Unfortunately, the prices of components prohibit keeping costs as low as we’ve wanted. We still keep it near cost for our Bear families, and thanks to them and the grace of God, we’ve grown in skill and productivity. 

Now my hobby pays for itself, and a bit left over for the bee’s new boxes and some fresh paint this season.

Bee Alchemy helped me turn copper into liquid gold…

It was great meeting so many of you at the Festival!

God bless.

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FROM HOBBY TO SIDE HUSTLE

A hobby is a rewarding and enjoyable way to spend your free time. It can also be an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.

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By: Woodworking Gunny Bear

If you attended the Beartaria National Festival, you might remember a beardless dude hocking handmade wooden items and making toy tops for your cubs…that was me. Despite the lack of facial hair (some habits from military life have stuck with me), I have taken up several hobbies that are traditionally enjoyed by men with sweet beards. I have also been able to parlay a couple of those hobbies into a viable means of making additional income for my family. Along the way, many lessons were learned, and more than a few mistakes were made. Hopefully, my experiences will help other bears make a smooth transition from a hobby to a side hustle. After all, the best kinds of hobbies are hobbies that pay for themselves.

Step one: Choosing a hobby.

Many of us already have one or more hobbies, but I am often astounded to find so many men and women whose only activity between work hours is watching T.V., playing video games, or surfing the internet. While there is money to be made as a competitive gamer, my experience is more applicable to hobbies where creating something is involved. If you haven’t yet chosen a hobby, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is supposed to be a hobby, not a job.
While some hobbies easily lend themselves to being a side hustle, this shouldn’t be your primary concern when deciding how to spend your free time. The main consideration should be, “Do I actually enjoy this?”

A job that you enjoy never feels like work. As for myself, the hobbies of painting landscapes and woodworking have proven to be fun, rewarding, and profitable.

Step two: Figure out how to make your hobby pay for itself.

Initially, I never thought about selling the fruits of my hobby-related labors. I started painting landscapes many years ago. As with most “maker” hobbies, I soon had stacks of completed projects taking up space in the garage. Eventually, my wife decided that it would be a good idea to hang our favorites, then give the rest away as gifts. Once all of our friends and family owned one of my original pieces, I then needed to figure out what to do with the thirty(ish) completed works still taking up space. My wife suggested that I sell them, to which my immediate reaction was laughter. Despite my doubts, I went ahead and put up a few cardboard signs stating, “Original art for sale.” I then stood some of my nicer pieces up in the driveway…and waited. To my utter amazement, people started showing up, browsed my impromptu “art exhibit,” and walked away with one or more of my Bob Ross-inspired paintings. The money made from that sale had just paid for all of my paint, brushes, and canvases. There was even enough left over to buy a quality easel and take my family out to a nice dinner.

A few years later, my wife and I took up the hobby of woodworking. We have subsequently enjoyed countless hours of fun together and have paid for our tools and materials many times over (our first purchase with craft fair money was actually a chicken plucker). Admittedly, artwork and wooden toys, tools, etc., are fairly easy to monetize. The difficulty arises when the hobby doesn’t culminate in an easily sellable product. For example, if your hobby is fishing, you probably won’t enjoy hauling your catch to an open-air market and selling trout fillets. However, there is definitely a market for hand-tied flies and custom-made lures. In other words, you may have to find a specific aspect of your hobby that is monetizable. Some other examples would be an avid hiker offering guided nature walks or a crochet hobbyist selling scarves and beanies. Even a minimally skilled leather worker can find a way to earn a fist full of nickels by selling a few “What would Jesus do?” bracelets. The key is discerning which aspect of your hobby results in something useful or appealing to someone else.

Step three: Find your market

Once you have your potential product identified, your next step is to find your market. This will largely depend on what your product is. Internet sale sites such as Etsy or Craigslist, craft shows, farmer’s markets, and swap meets are all great places to sell physical goods. Alternatively, things like guided hikes, surfing lessons, or digital items may be more successfully monetized via social media sites and word-of-mouth endorsement. Casting a broad net will help to quickly identify the best places to market your product.

Step four: Learn from your mistakes and make the most of your successes

I have made many mistakes along the way and have also had my fair share of success. What’s important is that you look at both as lessons and apply them to your craft. The best lessons are learned from someone else’s mistakes. In this spirit, I will convey some of my knowledge so you can learn the easy way. The following are a few of my lessons learned…

  • Don’t skimp when it comes to essential tools. I can’t count how many “cheap” tools I went through before finally breaking down and shelling out the money for the more expensive, well-made version.
  • “Free” and “used” may be four-letter words, but they are good ones. You can save big by keeping an eye out for materials and quality used tools at thrift or antique stores, garage sales, and online. We have acquired some of our most beautiful wood from neighbors who just cut a tree down and were looking for someone to haul it off. We have also saved hundreds of dollars by opting for quality used versions of many of our most expensive tools.
  • Remember that you can sell one million things for a dollar or one thing for a million dollars, but how many people carry around a million bucks? We do make a few expensive items, but they don’t always sell. We also make a bunch of inexpensive items that sell consistently. Those cheaper items always pay the bills, and when the expensive ones do sell, it’s gravy.
  • Get the family involved. My wife also enjoys woodworking. She specializes in different areas, which increases the number of unique items that we can offer. Additionally, our daughter sells her artwork alongside our wooden crafts. This teaches her about labor/work ethic, finances, and business practices. It also turns a festival or craft show into a fun family affair.
  • Don’t get burned out. Remember that this is an activity that you chose because you enjoy it. I reached a point where I was doing commissioned pieces, staying up late to fill orders, and quickly realizing that my hobbies had somehow become work. I made a conscious decision to shut down the wood lathe for a time and to stop doing commissioned paintings. I focused on settling into our new farm, and until this year’s Bear Festival, I didn’t try to sell a single one of our creations. Because of this year-long break, along with the knowledge that I was making things for other bears, my hobbies had become fun again. We now participate in just a few craft fairs a year and can focus on the making, not the selling.

A hobby is a rewarding and enjoyable way to spend your free time. It can also be an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. Lastly, it can be a means to supplement your income while doing something fun. Happy hobbying. 

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The Beartaria Times Partners with Classical Learner

Beartaria Times is proud to announce we have partnered with Classical Learner Homeschool Company!

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Classical Learner and The Beartaria Times have partnered to bring more community value! This partnership will allow anyone who signs up with ClassicalLearner.com/Beartaria an exclusive three-day free trial of Homeschools Connected and will be supporting The Beartaria Times!


“Classical Learner is a company born in Beartaria, education by Bears for Bear cubs. Many homeschool companies do a great job, but only one operates in synchronicity with the spirit of Beartaria. It has always been my goal to turn Cubs into Bears, and this new partnership moves all of us much closer to making that dream a reality.” 

Brett Pike – Classical Learner Bear – President of Classical Learner

When you become a member of Classical Learner’s Homeschools Connected via ClassicalLearner.com/Beartaria, you not only gain access to the curriculum, the courses and the homeschool network, but you help fund Beartaria Times. Your support of Classical Learner assists in the development of new and relevant courses and resources, that all of our children will benefit from over the next decade. Beartaria truly is a hill to grow on.

We have always supported Classical Learner and are excited to launch this partnership! We hope that our ongoing support contributes to all the amazing things Brett is doing with classical Learner!

We will keep our readers posted with new developments coming from Classical Learner and Homeschools Connected!

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