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Learn Before You Earn

Don’t Let Your Dreams Cloud Your Vision

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Most of us long for the ability to make our own way in this life. I’d venture to guess that most people reading this article would much rather live a life of self accountability, self reliance, and self employment instead of being dependent on an employer to provide the necessary funds for them to feed their families, keep a roof over their head, and give their children a good life. It doesn’t matter who you work for, the act of being beholden to somebody else when it comes to your financial security is stressful. This is why most people start their own business. And this is also why a lot of small business startups fail.

When you hit that wall and can’t possibly work another day in your dead end, soul sucking job, you naturally start dreaming. And man are those dreams big. Many dream so big in that moment that they lose sight of reality, and this can be detrimental to an otherwise great game plan. Dreaming about making a change isn’t bad, but letting that dream cloud your vision when it comes to what you’re truly capable of at that moment can cause a lot of problems. In this article I’d like to share some simple advice for anyone who’s hit that wall and is ready to make a change.

People typically go into creating their own business with one of two mindsets. The first is “I’m done with this job, nothing is going to stop me from doing (insert business plan here), I’m going to be the greatest”. The second is “I know what kind of life I want to live, and thinking about doing this scares the daylight out of me, but I’m ready and willing to learn whatever I need to in order to get there”. There is a fundamental difference between these two starting points, and it is that the second mindset starts you in a position of wanting to learn, whereas the first positions you in a place that is much more prone to failure. When we assume we’re ready for anything in life, we usually aren’t even close.

When we are humble, admit that we need to learn, and open ourselves to the opportunity to gain new knowledge, we often succeed.

When I started my business 1.5 years ago, I was about 10% excited and 90% terrified. I knew that although I was decent at woodworking, I had so much to learn. And I believe that starting point is why I’ve succeeded. I couldn’t begin to guess how many hours of woodworking videos I watched, learning new things and taking mental notes the entire time. I researched every tool I purchased, I learned the ins and outs of how to maintain them properly, how to safely handle them, and how to properly store them. I spent countless hours hunting for the best way to ship orders, package orders, which carriers provide the best rates depending on size and weight of packages. I spent weeks researching different woods, which ones were good for food prep and which were better for non-food related items. I spent months learning before I constructed my first cutting board. Had I not invested this time into learning about the craft, I would have most likely seriously injured myself using a tool I wasn’t familiar with, wasted a huge amount of expensive exotic lumber, and I would not have been prepared for the logistics of running a business. Learning gave me the foundation I needed to be successful.

My advice to anybody looking to start their own business and take control of their own finances would be this: No matter how much you think you know about something, learn more first. It doesn’t matter how good of an electrician you are if you don’t know where to source the materials/supplies you need to perform your job. It doesn’t matter how good of a handyman you are if you don’t know how to schedule appointments, create an invoice, properly bid out a job, etc. The benefit of working for a large company is that the infrastructure is already in place for all of this and you never have to even think about it. You just perform your job and somebody else handles the rest. This is not the case in self employment. You have to juggle 100 things at the same time, all of the time. This is impossible to do without a proper understanding of how each piece of that puzzle fits together.

Before you earn, take the time to learn. Short term income gains can be exciting and appealing, but not at the expense of a failed business when it becomes too overwhelming and you don’t have enough time to catch up with your own dreams.

Until next time my friends, Onward!

-Woodshop Bear

Website: https://www.littlebearwoodshop.com

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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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