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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

Scale Or Fail

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When we start a business we do so with the intent of earning an income. I doubt anyone in their right mind doesn’t want that income to be as high as possible. We all have bills, dreams, and many have debt they’d like to get out from underneath of. We work harder than your typical 9-5 employee in order to earn that income. We put everything we have into doing a dozen people’s jobs by ourselves. And, if God wills it, we eventually start to see the fruit of our labor. And that is when you can potentially experience the complete opposite outcome you’d envisioned.

In business there is a term used from time to time, which is “the hug of death”. Picture being hugged by someone you love so tightly that you can’t take in a breath. That person may be so happy to see you that they squeeze you as hard as they can to show their love and excitement, but it ultimately can lead to your death if you’re unable to breathe. The same concept can be found in the business sense of this term. Sometimes businesses focus entirely too much on marketing, without first having built the proper infrastructure to be able to handle a massive influx of orders or business. This can, and often does, lead to the downfall of otherwise great business ventures. People can quite literally get so much business that they go out of business. I’ll explain how this works, with personal examples, even though it seems entirely counterintuitive.

About 1.5 years ago I wrote a letter to our favorite comedian and bard Owen Benjamin, and included some items I’d made as a thank you for all of the revelatory changes he had helped bring forth in my life. At the time I thought my business had failed before it had even gotten off the ground. I was en route to sell all season long at our local farmers market, and had been working for months to stock inventory. In March of 2020 I had that invitation revoked due to new state guidelines with everything that was unfolding. I sent my items to Owen, and said if he happened to open it on a stream and I got a couple orders that would be a blessing, but if I didn’t then God had other plans for me. 10 minutes after he opened my box/letter on stream I had over $2,000 in orders. Within 24 hours I had another $2,000 in orders. Needless to say I was elated. But, that feeling also came with a huge amount of stress. It took me nearly 3 weeks to get the orders made and shipped, and I was beginning to worry that the long shipping times would result in unhappy customers. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, so I used the profit I had earned to invest in new tools to speed up production.

Fast forward 8 months to December of 2020. Once again, the potential hug of death hit, but much larger this time. The Christmas season was upon us, and I got hit with a wave of orders like I never could have imagined. In total, over 240 orders were placed over the course of 3 weeks, with nearly 1,000 individual items ordered. Once again, I realized how unprepared I was for this rush, and I can’t put into words how hard I worked that month. 12 to 14 hour days, every single day, for a month straight. My days consisted of working in the shop all day, packaging orders, dropping orders at UPS and USPS, making 2-3 shops runs a week, not being able to breathe in my shop because there was so much sawdust in the air but I didn’t have time to deep clean, and not being able to breathe at night when the panic set in and I thought about the 30 products I had to make the next day. All of this while we had 2 teething children under the age of 2, getting no sleep, and exhausted. There were times at the end of the night when I’d finish in the shop, come inside, put my daughter to sleep, and nearly cry from exhaustion. And, as many business owners have done before me, that level of both physical and emotional exhaustion led to the one and only time I’ve ever thought about closing my business.

Those who know me might think that’s a crazy thing to think. I’m Woodshop Bear. All I do is crush. But in that moment, I crushed too hard. I was in over my head in a way I’d never experienced in my life. While it was wonderful to do $10k in business in 3 weeks, I had to make every single one of those products by hand, package and ship them, and try to be as present as possible to help my wife with the children. The thought of closing my business was not due to a lost desire to do what I love, but rather the sheer weight of doing it all by myself. Obviously I crushed those 240+ orders, got everything out in time, and continued crushing. But I also crashed afterwards, which caused a whole new set of challenges for a couple of months. After that rush, I temporarily got nervous every time I saw an order pop up on my phone. Again, this sounds ridiculous, but this is the nature of business sometimes. When you experience the hug of death, and make it through, it can take time to come back down from the constant adrenaline rush.

I don’t tell you this to deter you from starting a business whatsoever. This might sound scary, but the reason I experienced those times (especially December), is because I had not scaled accordingly. That was a mistake on my part. I got so wrapped up in the excitement of having steady business and being able to support my family that I lost track of scaling my business, my tools, my storage, my shop supplies I had on hand, etc. My lack of planning resulted in loads of unnecessary stress and worry. I was taking 4 times longer to sand things than I needed to because I had not yet invested in a proper bench top sander. I had no room to move because I had put off moving my inventory storage up into my office. This slowed down production heavily. I had not taken the steps I needed to in order to speed up production, and it came back to bite me hard.

If you’re starting a business, or have a small business, may you learn from my mistakes. Getting more business is always a blessing, but be sure that your business infrastructure is at a level which can handle the increase in orders before they arrive. Have extra shipping supplies on hand, so you’re not waiting on boxes to arrive with orders that needed to go out days ago like I was. Make sure you have extra supplies on hand before potential business rushes like holidays. Make up extra inventory and have it on hand (if possible), so you’re not caught with more orders than you can process in a day. And most importantly, grow your business at a pace which allows you to comfortably acclimate to the increased pressures that come along with more orders. That time of growth may seem like a burden, as you’d like to be making as much as possible at all times, but that time is when you learn and are able to make the necessary adjustments so you can succeed.

Until next time, Onward

-Woodshop Bear

https://www.littlebearwoodshop.com

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Rebel Joe Coffee, It will give you legs…

“I think about her every day and I hope she is proud of what I’m doing.” says Max. 

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They said this coffee can really stand up for itself, that it would make your beard grow overnight, a coffee so legendary it will have you crushing in your sleep. So logically, We had to try it. We have never been crazy about where we buy our coffee from, our go to blend is the wholesale club’s own organic medium roast. Once in a while we would splurge for a more local Vermont whole bean organic coffee but it was never a priority to have “great tasting” coffee. We honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference between our past purchases. Then we bought Rebel Joe.

 

We got the 5 lb Uprising Breakfast Blend and the monthly special of Pecan or Pecan’t. You can get yours here. First of all the shipping was quick from order to delivery and the cost is comparable to the coffee we had been purchasing. We immediately took note of the roasting date, it was roasted just five days prior to the day we received it. The fresh roasted smell of the whole bean coffee tickles our nostrils as soon as we opened the bag. The flavored coffee smelled like a delicious cone of butter pecan ice cream on a hot summer’s day. We knew we were going to like this coffee. 

When we got our gravity filter, we thought our coffee game had changed but like a true legend Rebel Joe upped the game even more. The smooth rich taste of the coffee is notable with or without cream. There is no bitterness of over roasting or neglect that comes with store bought coffee. Delicious hot or iced this coffee is highly recommended. 

Max, better known as Board Game Bear, has really brought new life to the coffee world. The branding and creative genius behind Rebel Joe really makes him stand out as an entrepreneur. But he couldn’t have done it without his mother. The love a son has for his mother is never better expressed then when she needs it most. He helped his sister care for their mother who was suffering from ALS the last years of her life. In doing so brought her back to God and made sure she was baptized 3 months before her passing. He was also baptized on Mother’s Day the same year and hasn’t looked back. While the task at hand was heartbreaking and nearly unbearable at times he wouldn’t have chosen any other path. Rebel Joe wouldn’t have come to fruition with out his mother. The modest inheritance he received after her passing allowed this venture to come to life and her memory lives on through his hard work and dedication.

“I think about her every day and I hope she is proud of what I’m doing.” says Max.

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Morality Over Money

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    There are many reasons why someone takes the scary leap into starting their own business. Maybe they aren’t happy with their salary. Perhaps they think they can build a better business than where they currently are. Could it be that they feel there’s no future in their position and they’re just outright bored? Whatever the cause is, more often than not the underlying reason revolves around the acquisition of more fiat currency. People will sacrifice paid health care, paid time off, sick days, vacation days, and job stability and security for the unpromised dream of more cash in their bank account. And this is where many people make their first mistake.

    When you operate from a place of fear (in this case the fear of not having enough money), both in your personal life and the decisions you make in your business, you are led down a road which will ultimately result in the sacrificing of your own morality in the never ending pursuit of more cash. And that cash will never bring you true happiness.

    The alternative to this soul sucking pursuit of material gain is to operate your business in a way where you are spreading good into the world. While this may seem counter-intuitive to every piece of business advice you’ve ever heard, it’s the absolute truth. When you use your business power to bring others honest, selfless joy, you not only gain a customer who’s emotionally invested in the future well-being of your business, but you also get to lay your head down at night knowing that you used your power to do good. Unlike paper rectangles or 1’s and 0’s in a computer, this will actually bring you happiness, and give you purpose going forward.

    A personal example of this from my own business is as follows. Around Christmas time of 2020, I had a customer reach out to me saying her family had experienced a very brutal year and she had only a very small amount of money to buy something for her husband, but if she was going spend it anywhere she wanted to support a small family business. She wanted to purchase one of my Deer Hunter pens, as her husband was a hunter and she thought he’d really like it. I could have very easily made the pen, sent it out, and never thought about it again. What I chose to do instead was make the pen, make an additional pen valued at $40, and send them both out with a hand written note to her husband wishing him good fortune in his future hunts. I did this in the middle of working 14hr days trying to keep up with a holiday business rush the likes of which I never could have anticipated. She received the package and was both shocked and elated, and she is now a top follower on my social media and shares my posts all of the time, giving my business tons of promotion. I lost money from my own pocket to do this small act of kindness, but if we measure good deeds in dollars, we’ve already lost everything that makes us good.

    Is my ego forever inflated because I did something good? Not at all. But my heart is full knowing that I have reached a point in my business where I can do small acts like this from time to time that bring joy to others. You’d be hard pressed to find an employee at any big box store who would use money from their own pocket to bring you joy when you’re in a trying time. And this is the fundamental difference between operating a business from a position of money acquisition compared to spreading kindness. Both the big box store and the small family business are profiting, but when the dollar collapses the store will be left with nothing, while the family business will be left knowing they did good in this world. The question you must ask yourself when running a business is where do you want to be when that day comes? Do you want your legacy to be worthless paper, or changed lives?

    Until next time my friends, Onwards.

-Woodshop Bear

Website: www.littlebearwoodshop.com

 

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