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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

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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