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Succeed In Business By Honoring The Creation

Honor God, Find Order, and then Crush.

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Human beings by nature are attracted to symmetry. You can see this in just about every facet of life. In art, we’re often drawn to symmetrical designs and patterns. Mandalas are a great example of this. In music, we typically structure our songs in a way that is more or less symmetrical. Think the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-outro pattern. Even in our attraction to a mate, we subconsciously are attracted to symmetry. Endless studies on the subject have shown that a noticeable lack of facial symmetry is more often than not seen as less attractive. We put a bookcase on both sides of the fireplace. We buy matching nightstands for either side of the bed. Why do we do this? Why are we both consciously and subconsciously attracted to symmetry? Because symmetry is order.

So the next logical question is, why are we attracted to order? In a world with endless possibilities, why are we constantly finding our way back to the same? I would say because this is a creation, brought into existence by One much greater than you or I. And on a fundamental level, it is ingrained in us to take care of that creation, and honor it.


Weird way to start an article Woodshop Bear. What in the world does that have to do with business?

Business, like everything else in this life, is an idea. It is entirely possible to live a life of complete self reliance. Every single one of us is fully capable of growing our own food, raising our own livestock, raising our own children, healing our own ailments, fixing our own stuff, etc. But doing all of it by yourself is incredibly time consuming, and often leads to burn out. So, humans created business as a means to lighten the load. Many hands make for light lifting. Instead of me doing 20 things with the utmost mediocrity during the day, I can now do one thing with greatness. You do a different thing with greatness. When you need the thing I make, you buy it. When I need your service, I hire you to do it. For all of its frustrations, stresses, and trying times, business in itself as an idea is wonderful. Business is literally community. Fiat currency isn’t a measure of business. People helping each other and providing for one another is. Business goes wrong, however, when we lose sight of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Bear with me, as we’re sprinting headfirst into left field with this, but we’ll bring it back home triumphantly.

Business has become a twisted, vile perversion of what it should be, because we lost the order. We lost morality. We became greedy. We became self serving. We forgot why we do what we do. But we can very easily return home. It doesn’t matter what you do for work, or what your business is. What matters is whether you’re doing what you’re doing for selfish reasons, or if you’re trying to bring order to the world and honor God’s beautiful creation. And if you’re doing the latter, you will create ripples of beauty and truth that will form into giant waves.

There are thousands of places to buy a cutting board. There are endless choices. One can do a 1 second search online and find more options than they could ever look at. So why is my business successful and growing every day? Because in every single cutting board I make, I honor the creation. I hand select every single piece of wood I use, and I have loads of fun doing it.

Lumber restocking days are my favorite days. I spend an hour at the store, picking through boards looking for the perfect grain pattern and the perfect colors. I feel excitement driving home with a load of hardwoods just thinking about all of the beautiful things I’ll be able to make. I’m not excited for myself though. I’m excited for whoever orders them. I daydream about a family cooking dinner together, using the board that I made to chop up their fresh garden vegetables. I think about a mother looking at that cutting board after 10 years of use and appreciating that it’s lasted that long, and that she was able to use the money she would have spent constantly replacing a cheap board on her children instead. I feel honored to know that the skills God gave me will, in a way, help put food into the tummies of little ones all around the country. It is a pure, genuine desire to provide for others with something they don’t have the time or skills to craft for themselves.

This is a stark contrast to what we’re used to today, with cheaply made cookie cutter everything. The factory workers (if they haven’t been replaced by machines), couldn’t care less about any of that. They don’t care about the grain pattern of the wood. They don’t meticulously inspect every board, fill every crack, hand polish each board. They stamp them out and ship them off to whatever big box store ordered 10,000 of them for their warehouse. There is no order in that, and there is no honoring the creation. There is nothing but a pure, unadulterated desire for money. From the employees who are just there to collect a check, to the CEO who cares more about his 3rd yacht more than if his customer gets a quality product that will stand the test of time, there is no honor. On the surface, we are both providing the same service. The end result is a cutting board. You can cut your vegetables on either of our boards. But one was made with love, a need to honor God through the use of the skills he bestowed on me, and a very real desire to provide the last cutting board you will ever purchase. The other was made with no love. This might not seem important these days, as society has become very callous, but it really is. My inboxes are full of messages from customers thanking me, full of excitement, commenting on the quality and how thrilled they were when their order arrived. When was the last time you wrote the head of Walmart? People can feel when there is order, and it brings them joy because it’s truth.

Remember the ripple I talked about earlier? It goes both ways. Every day I step out onto my shop, and I create with honor. Every single order I receive puts food in my daughter’s mouth, so there is no option to provide a bad product. If I do, that’s a lost customer. A lost customer is a lost meal. A lost meal is a failure on my part to provide for my family. Failure to provide for the blessings that God gave me is a failure to God. It is not an option for me. If I mess up a knife handle, I eat the cost and make a new one. I spend my entire day trying to be honest, and build my integrity with my customers via what I’m providing for their very hard earned money. This affects every other area of my life.

Since starting this business, I’ve found that this attitude has expanded into all areas of life. I have become far less selfish, far more aware of what my words and actions do, and desire to honor the creation more than ever. What started as making sure I alternate the grain curves in a cutting board so it doesn’t crack years down the road has lead to a revelatory shift in how I view the world, and where I fit in to it.

On the flip side, the same happens in business when it’s conducted from a place of greed, laziness, and apathy. Those paycheck getters, who couldn’t care less about the job they’re doing, will find it exponentially more difficult to find meaning in their lives outside of work. If you’re used to running a machine that stamps out 1,000 cutting boards a day every day, you stop thinking about the mother who will be using one of them. If you see a crack in a board but say “whatever, it’s just one board”, that same apathy and laziness will ripple into your own life 100% of the time. That one crack will turn into just one cigarette after you quit, or one drink, or one affair. You detach from honor. When you are not honoring, you will never find order. Order is found through honor. What guides us in this life is where we want to go.

If you want nothing more than to be wrapped in God’s love in the afterlife, it will show in everything that you do, and will ripple outwards to everyone you interact with. You’ll make the best cutting board you can. You won’t try to rake the single mother for extra money when she comes in to get her car fixed, knowing that she doesn’t know the first thing about fixing cars and she’s relying on you so she’ll for sure pay extra for the blinker fluid. You’ll do everything you can to be of service to others. And in return more people will want to do business with you, because they will be able to feel that you truly care and you’re not just in it for yourself.

As proof of this, a quick story. Today, the Bear who offered me this editor position expressed interest in getting a knife from me. I immediately told him I’d make him one for free. My thank you for all of the opportunities him bringing me on board has brought. He immediately said he wanted to pay for it.

That, my friends, is the ripple. He knows I make good products, he knows my character, my integrity, and my desire to honor God. That made him want to help me feed my children. You will never find that in a giant factory. There is no community in a factory. You’d be hard pressed to find honor in a factory. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.

What matters in business is not what you’re doing. It’s why you’re doing it. Do it to help others. Even if you don’t own a business and you’re just grinding every day trying to break those Babylonian chains. Do it with honor, and do it with gratitude. If you’re flipping burgers, be thankful that you get the chance to feed someone. If you’re a janitor, be thankful that you can provide clean floors for children to walk on. Be thankful that you, in your own way, can help bring order into this world, and in doing so honor the creation that He left us to watch over.

Until next time Bears, Onward!

-Woodshop Bear

IG: @littlebearwoodshop
FB: Little Bear Woodshop
www.littlebearwoodshop.com

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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Business

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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