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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

Business

From Cows to Canoes, From Zion to the Ozarks

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I was there for everyone’s worst day. After 15 years of working as a first responder (3 years as an EMT, 12 years in law enforcement), I was well versed in working with the public. Unfortunately, for me to interact with this public, someone had to call 911 for police or an ambulance and that almost always constituted that someone’s worst day was about to occur; whether loss of life, property or freedom. Many times, men and women in those roles of our first responders can get caught up: caught up in feeling not appreciated by a society who is taught to hate them, caught up in feelings of being overwhelmed, tired and stressed. The saying goes “Try not to take your work home with you.” But sometimes the work follows you. Sometimes, the same people you have arrested for a crime, figure out where you live. Sometimes, the stress of almost losing your life that day, causes you to be checked out at home. Sometimes, you can’t find the words to explain the traumas you have seen, and you feel alienated from your family who can’t fathom what you have been through, even if they are trying really hard to provide support.

It was time for me and my family to heal. I left law enforcement and the city and moved to my family’s cattle ranch in Utah. Being surrounded by family, cows and Zion canyon desert helped me to find myself again. I was able to appreciate the daily interactions with people and learn to stop looking over my shoulder. I was able to learn so many skills that have been neglected working 12 hour shifts 4 days a week for 15 years. I was truly present in my kids’ life and was able to appreciate the importance of family and working with my hands.

Our family’s cattle ranch is being sold. There are multiple facets that lead to this decision: family dynamics at play, government regulation with the sale of meat, drought. We will miss our ranch immensely and look back on those years spent there fondly as it was equal parts harsh and unforgiving and beautiful and rewarding.

Our next adventure is something we have thought of doing for the past 10 years but didn’t even know where to begin. There are moments it has truly felt heaven sent and guided by God. We are now the proud owners of Beaver Creek Campgrounds, Cabins and Canoe Rentals in Ava, Missouri. We made the difficult trek from Utah to Missouri, spent our time simultaneously moving, selling property, learning and taking ownership of a brand-new business. It has tested our strength, patience and endurance, much like the ranch did for us.

We are a family-friendly campground, located right on Beaver Creek and next to Mark Twain National Forest. 

We offer:

  • Canoe, kayak and paddle board rentals.
  • Tent camping and 3 concrete pads with 30-amp electrical hook up for smaller RVs/ travel trailers.
  • 1 cabin that sleeps 12 with bathroom and outdoor kitchen
  • 2 rustic cabins that sleep 4 with electricity
  • 1 cabin that sleeps 2 with full amenities including a kitchenette and personal bathroom.
  • All of our cabins overlook the creek.
  • We have a small general store.
  • We even have 2 covered wagon rooms with air conditioning.

Since we have been here, there have been amazing neighbors that have offered their assistance in any way possible to transition our new lives here. Running a campground will be a learning experience for us and I am sure there will be lots of failures, I hope the successes can be enough to keep us pushing forward. I am ready to now be there for everyone’s best day.

We hope to see you at our campground and be a part of this journey with us.

www.beavercreekcampground.com

For reservations, please call or text: 417-796-2336

Use discount code Beartaria for 10% off on lodging accommodations

By Perspective96Bear

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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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Business

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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