Making Our Dreams A Reality: Copper Bottom
Copper Bottom began as a dream about 7 years ago. We have a lot of friends who are working in non-profits or as missionaries but are struggling to raise money. Knowing there is enough money and generous people to give, the question came up, why is it so difficult to get the money from generous people to those who need it? And this is where the idea for our organisation came from. After talking for so many years about the organisation, it finally became a reality this past year in 2017 when we launched.
Everybody's journey towards making their dreams a reality will take their own course. For us, our dreams didn't just happen over night. It has taken time, experience, hard work, diligence, conversations, dreaming, planning, and executing. As we look back over the years, there are several benchmarks we can see that helped us get to where we are today. Our ability to converse as a couple was key. Working together in our strengths was also key. Benn is the dreamer. He thinks big picture, about how it is going to be great and how it's going to be world-changing. Amber is the executer. She thinks about the details, creating task lists to accomplish what we need to do today to get where we want to be. As a couple we have worked together closely in several other endeavours and we work well together because we can have a dialogue, challenge each other, and push each other.
Getting to the point of launching your dream is a process. Our process began with a lot of conversations over the years. Once we knew our dream, we shared it with other people, this is where it truly became real, and we had to do it! Then it's a matter of planning and doing. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect, just start! Because you can always change your course as you go. A name is key too.
1. Talk about it with each other.
2. Share it with other people.
3. Determine the first steps.
4. Just start, it doesn't have to be perfectly planned out.
5. You can change & adjust as you go.
6. Find a name that fits.
The main thing I (Amber) needed to hear was: It doesn't have to be perfect. You just need to start. J U S T G E T M O V I N G. You might try something and you might decide it's not working and you can change your direction.
One of the things we got stuck on for so long was a name. We knew what we wanted to do with the organisation, but we didn't know what to call it. We got really tired of calling it 'the organisation'. That's when we realised that it doesn't have to be perfect, but we just have to find a name. I (Amber) literally started google searching common phrases you may have heard of but you don't know what they mean. Somehow in that list I found Copper Bottom. The meaning is really cool. It's basically a nautical term. Back when ships were all made out of wood, the ships that were the most trustworthy had copper bottoms. What resonated for us, was the fact that a copper bottom ship, just by looking at it sitting in the water, you wouldn't know that it was a copper bottom ship. It was unseen. It was a stamp of approval. If you were a merchant and you knew it was a copper bottom ship, you put more trust into that ship because you knew it was better supported. And for us, this is who we wanted our organisation to be. For us, we didn't have these grand ideas of starting a new non-profit or finding a new cause, because there are a lot of really great organisations out there.
Our hope and our desire is that we can inspire generosity in people so that when they do want to give they feel confident that what they are giving towards is something that is worth their time and money. If someone hears that this organisation is a 'copper bottom' organisation they would have a greater level of confidence in what they are giving towards.
Launching your dream company or organisation can either succeed or fail. How do you successfully launch? Here's what we have found to be helpful.
1. Create a community of people around you who believe in you and you can be vulnerable with.
The encouragement and support we have gotten from this community has been overwhelmingly humbling and pushes us to keep going.
2. The second step is more difficult than the first.
It might be scary, you might feel alone, you might fail, but don't step back into your comfort zone, keep going.
3. Face your fears.
Face the fear of the unknown. Find your brave.
Challenges & Failure
Challenges are a normal part of life, how you respond to them is key. You might have heard that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond. We have found that to be true for ourselves too. Here is what has helped us respond in the midst of challenges and failure.
Come together as a couple. Never stand against each other. Never blame each other.
Accept that every failure is different. You may do things exactly the way you are supposed to, and you might do everything right, and you might still fail. There are a few instances in our life where this happened, and we still don't know why we failed.
Have a community you can gain insight from. What helps us, is having that community or people around us who can sit down with us, and say, you aren't looking at this 100% correctly, here are other things that happened that you probably couldn't see because you were in the middle of it, giving context and perspective. Let people in early on, so that when you do come across failure, they will be there to help. You will need to analyse it yourself, but you won't be able to see all the details that someone else might be able to see.
Accept criticism. Even if it's your spouse, when they give you feedback on things that weren't the best choices. Remember, those closest to you are not against you. They are on your side. Having that community and honest feedback is really important.
Sometimes it's not as big of a deal as it seems. It's like painting a room. If you are the one who did the work, you can see the flaws, but when a guest comes in to the room, they don't see those flaws, they just see a freshly painted room. Sometimes our failures our like that, just tiny little flaws.
We work well together. But we haven't stumbled into what we've got. God has blessed us with a lot. We feel very fortunate with where we are and who we are. It has taken a lot of work. I (Benn) know without a shadow of a doubt I wouldn't be where I am in my career and education, and I wouldn't be who I am as a father and as a husband, if it weren't for you (Amber) challenging me and pushing me to be better.
We are complementary in our skill set. We both bring the perspective that at the end of the day, we want that what we do to be quality. And we know that if we both work on it together, we can get there. We bring out the best in each other.
We are for each other. WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM. We are each others biggest encouragers. Constantly encouraging each other. Even in the seemingly mundane tasks.
There is an aspect of humility. Accepting that encouragement can be challenging. But more so, when you ask for how things could be better. We both challenge each other to think beyond what's in front of us. It takes humility on both of our ends to say you know what, I could do better, I can become a better father, a better husband, do better at my job. Accepting those things which sounds like criticism but aren't.
In the beginning when we were first married we both sacrificed to help the other finish our education. Being ok in the midst of sacrifice. To be selfless. We talk about decisions to see how they affect our family. During grad school, for example, I (Benn) wanted to just push through and finish all the classes at once, but in that season our family needed me at home in the evenings. Keeping our broader family in mind when making decisions helps us make the best decisions.
Working together with your spouse has its benefits but it can also be challenging. Our advice is to keep your marriage the main priority. Marriage is more important than business.
1. Remember you are married.
Not only is this person your business partner, they are the person you go to bed with at night. When you handle difficulty you still have the responsibility to your spouse to handle it as a partner in your marriage, not just a partner in business.
2. Carve out time for each other.
Be intentional with making time for each other. Time to dream, to set goals. Also just have date nights where you do not discuss practical matters of business, kids, finances, work, etc.. It can be challenging! You might just have to read current events to find something to talk about. Stretch ourselves. It's a balance.
3. Honor your marriage, you can always start another organisation/business.
Our marriage is what we want to last forever. If something has to give, it will be the organisation. You can always start another organisation. For us divorce is not an option. We don't joke about it, we don't threaten about it. It might sound arrogant, but for us it just isn't an option. If Copper Bottom were to go nowhere, that's fine, but our marriage has to stay. I am not willing to make decisions that make Copper Bottom successful at the expense of our marriage. Honor your marriage.
We hope that you have gained some insight, perspective, and wisdom from our story. We would love to hear from you! Have you launched into your dreams? What got you to that point? If not, what might be keeping you back? If you work together with your spouse, what do you find to be the most rewarding and the most challenging?
Amber and Benn have been married for 16 years and going strong. They have 2 beautiful children who still adore their parents. They have designed and built two homes together, with their own hands. Amber is a brilliant fundraiser and event manager with an education in interior design, elementary education, and youth studies. Benn is the Senior Director of CCM Operations for a large Health Care company, with education in architectural design, pastoral studies and a masters degree in Business Administration. Both have previously worked together as youth pastors. They have also worked in higher education, Amber formerly as an Admissions Counselor and Benn now currently works as adjunct faculty teaching business courses. Together they have a passion to see others give generously to trusted organisations, which is how Copper Bottom was created. They love to volunteer at their kids' school, host parties, travel and create memorable experiences together with their family.
You can find Copper Bottom on Facebook: @copperbottom.org and Instagram: #copperbottomlife