Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

How to Balance Two 7-Figure Businesses and Still Be a Family


Steve ChouSteve Chou is a highly recognized influencer and speaker in the e-commerce space. As a serial entrepreneur, he founded My Wife Quit Her Job LLC, an educational blog and podcast that teaches entrepreneurs how to sell physical products online. The blog has been featured in Forbes, Inc., and The New Your Times, among others, and the podcast is a top 25 Apple Podcasts marketing show.

As the Co-founder of Bumblebee Linens, he sells customizable handkerchiefs and linens for special occasions. In addition, Steve is the Co-founder of Sellers Summit, a conference that Entrepreneur magazine and CPC Strategy Inc. have lauded as one of the top e-commerce events in the business.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [06:56] Steve Chou talks about writing The Family First Entrepreneur and the motivation behind it
  • [08:42] Work-life balance tips for entrepreneurs
  • [11:54] Navigating ego when your business partner is also your spouse
  • [17:08] Creating a family-first approach as an entrepreneur
  • [19:11] The tools and disciplines Steve shares in his new book
  • [30:40] Steve explains how he successfully runs his two seven-figure businesses
  • [32:19] Why you should teach your kids how to become entrepreneurs
  • [40:21] The metrics for becoming a Wall Street Journal bestseller and accessing Steve’s book bonuses
  • [46:19] The value of attending entrepreneurial masterminds and summits
  • [48:08] How to thrive on various social media platforms

In this episode…

A lot of people dream of becoming an entrepreneur. If you want to start and run a thriving business, putting your family first is essential. So how do you find that balance?

Serial entrepreneur Steve Chou says most entrepreneurial advice comes from single men or women without outside responsibilities. He discovered entrepreneurs running multimillion-dollar companies who have families, don’t spend quality time with them. It’s also not uncommon for these entrepreneurs to be stressed out or burned out. That’s when Steve decided to write a book to share how people can start a business that allows them to quit their jobs and achieve financial freedom without sacrificing family and what matters most.

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Steve Chou, Founder of My Wife Quit Her Job, to discuss tips for being a family-first entrepreneur. Steve talks about his journey writing The Family First Entrepreneur and why he wrote it, tips for achieving a work-life balance, how to start a business with a family-first approach, and how he navigates running two seven-figure companies without sacrificing family time.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode

This episode brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:07

Hi, folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Joe Valley  0:18

Hey, folks, Joe Valley here, welcome to another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. Today’s guest is a friend of mine, he’s a friend of a lot of yours. His name is Steve Chou, very, very successful entrepreneur. And one of the good guys is a good human. There’s only a handful of them in the world these days, and Steve’s one of them. He is running to seven figure businesses, he’s working 20 hours a week, he’s got a YouTube channel, he’s just doing incredible stuff, podcast, all sorts of things that put most of us to shame in terms of the lack of stress that he has in the financial well-being that he has. And the time that he gets to spend with his family every afternoon is with his kids. So he’s working about four hours a day running to seven figure businesses, including a podcast and an event that he does once a year cellar summit down in Florida in May, every year. He he’s taking something else off of his bucket list, which was to publish a book, and it’s called The Family First Entrepreneur. And what we talked about in the podcast here is all about the things that you me, he we can and should do, as entrepreneurs to level things out and make sure that we’re happy first as families, as entrepreneurs, with families and being successful entrepreneurs as well. You’ve heard me talk about it over the years, right? With the life as an entrepreneur, myself since 1997, there’s amazing years, but there’s also really painful days, weeks and months, that are hard to get through and around. When you apply the principles that Steve talks about in his new book, it levels those things out, I think right? So, one of the concepts is just simply paying yourself first figuring out what your annual expenses are, and making sure that the business is paying you that and paying yourself first. Everything else is gravy. It’s just smart. After a couple of decades in the business, I began doing that, if you’re one or two years in, I think he got to do that. And Steve lays it all out what he does here also, though, really, really, it’s part of him as a incredible marketer. He’s not just selling a book, if you buy the book, you’re also getting a whole bunch of free bonuses, three hours of training on YouTube and things of that there’s so many I can’t even list them all. But it’s many, many hours of free courses and training that Steve Chou himself does. That’s going to help you grow your e-commerce business, your content business or whatever type of business you’re running these free bonuses, he says you’ll get 20x the value of the purchase of the book, I think it’s more like 200 to 2,000x you really do the math. It’s just an incredible process to marketing a book, which is part of being a very successful entrepreneur, the book itself against called The Family First Entrepreneur. It’s a mouthful, But let’s jump to it, talk to Steve get his take on life as an entrepreneur, what his approach is, he’s giving some tips about YouTube at the end on how to produce videos, all sorts of different things throughout the podcast here. So it’s a long one, right? We probably talk for 45 minutes. So take a listen. Put us on two times speed if you need to. But definitely listen to it absorb it. Steve’s a really good human great entrepreneur and doing it well as a father of two as well. And we got Steve Chou, welcome. I think Welcome back to the Quiet Light Podcast you’ve been on before, right?

Steve Chou  4:26

I think I’ve been on before but always happy to be back, Joe. Thanks for having me.

Joe Valley  4:31

I missed you at ECF this year. Right? Were you in San Diego.

Steve Chou  4:37

I was it was a great event. And rumor has it that you Dawn back a little bit relaxing a little more.

Joe Valley  4:44

I’m getting old man. Look at the gray on my chin. Come on.

Steve Chou  4:48

You’re not that old, are you much older than me? I don’t think so. I’m 57 Okay, all right. I take that back. You’re a lot older than me.

Joe Valley  4:56

Yeah, no, it’s both my kids are off to college now right. So my wife and I are empty nesters. So it’s a good time for me to just pull throttle back a little bit. Not completely, but a little bit anyway so that we’ve got more time together now that the kids are up.

Steve Chou  5:14

It’s funny as I would have the opposite attitude, I’m actually waiting for them to be an empty nester so I can actually start my next business. But I’m not doing right now. Because the kids,

Joe Valley  5:23

You can be old and tired like I am by the time they graduate. Thanks. So how old are your kids?

Steve Chou  5:27

13 and 15. How old you know? I am 48 this year.

Joe Valley  5:34

All right, yes, well, 13. Now you won’t be quite as old as me. But you might you might, we’ll say let’s talk when they’re gone.

Steve Chou  5:43

All right. Sounds good. Sounds good.

Joe Valley  5:46

So you were in San Diego, I think Walker attended the ECF.

Steve Chou  5:49

I sat next to Walker at dinner. All right. And the whole night. In fact.

Joe Valley  5:52

Did he talk about the fact that he’s a published author and a Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author and you are now about to be a best-selling author.

Steve Chou  6:03

Now, Walker’s not the type to talk about those things? Yes. No.

Joe Valley  6:10

I have to say, I have to say, I’m no Walker Duyvil. Anytime I talk about my book, I’ve said but I’m Walker Duyvil. Well, it’s the deal I have because he’s a Wall Street Journal, bestselling author.

Steve Chou  6:20

That’s what I’m going forward to. But he was actually very helpful in telling me what he did to get there. So yeah, we had a good conversation. I appreciate it.

Joe Valley  6:28

He worked his ass off writing the book is very hard editing it, because you’ve got to read it. Because it’s your book, you got to look at all the details and make sure your voice is there. That’s very hard and time consuming, especially if you put in tables and charts or anything like that, like mine. But then the promotion of the book, like the podcast, or that you’re doing now and beyond. So let’s talk about this book that you’ve written. The Family First Entrepreneur.

Steve Chou  6:56

Yep, that’s what it’s called. It’s how to achieve financial freedom without sacrificing what matters most. Now, Joe, you and I we’ve known each other for a long time. I run two seven figure businesses and I work 20 hours a week. And I do that kind of out of necessity. Because, I mean, you’re an empty nester now, but my entire afternoon is literally occupied driving my kids activities, coaching, helping them with their homework, going to rush in math, which you Darien teases me nonstop. But taking care of kids is a lot of work. If you want to do a good job at it.

Joe Valley  7:28

Oh, it’s incredibly hard work if you want to do a good job at it, like you say, so to seven figure businesses and you’re working 20 hours a week. That’s why I think you can see putting the throttle down and growing the business in five more years when your youngest is off to college, right? I hate the term. But I feel like I’ve been grinding it out for a decade at Quiet Light, that’s what I just got to pull the throttle back a little bit. You on the other hand, are really balancing things really well. Now, look, I’ve not been an absentee father, I drove my kids to school every day I was there for every sporting event. I didn’t spend every afternoon with them, because they were actually off doing things with friends and in school and things of that nature. But every sporting event, driving them to school dinners every night. But still, as an entrepreneur. And people listening that are entrepreneurs that are busy can probably relate to this. And I want to know if you can, too. I think that I’m guilty of not always being present. Because as an entrepreneur, things are constantly on my mind. How did you deal with that? And how do you deal with that as an entrepreneur and somebody who really focused on family?

Steve Chou  8:42

I mean, it was a learning experience. In fact, I was caught on the Dumbo ride checking my emails when we went to Disney World a while back.

Joe Valley  8:50

Who caught you. And did you have a bruise afterwards? Or was it a kid?

Steve Chou  8:56

So my wife took a shot of me looking at my phone. And I’ve actually used that in presentations. It was bad early on, because we all have egos. Right, Joe, we want to start the next big thing. And at the same time we want to balance family. And have you heard the four burners theory before?

Joe Valley  9:10

I have through you and Janice, actually on your podcast.

Steve Chou  9:13

Yes. Yeah. So the four burners theory just in case your audience’s no states that you have four burners, family work, friends and health. In order to do any one thing, well, you actually have to turn off one of the burners. And if you want to do something extremely well, you have to turn off two, which basically means that you just need to prioritize, right. So what you talked about being present. That happened to me all the time, because I was trying to my ego in the beginning when that Dumbo ride thing happened. I was trying to hit a million dollars, because that was my goal. And for some reason, I felt like just hitting that number would instantly make everything better in terms of the eyes of my friends, my ego and everything. But what I didn’t realize was happening. You know, besides checking email and not being proud As it was, my relationship with my wife wasn’t doing so well, because we were fighting all the time, we hit a revenue goal, we finally hit seven figures that year, my kids were younger. And then I moved the goalposts, right, we’d celebrate for a day, move the goalposts and it just kept going on year after a year. Until finally my wife sat me down and said, hey, we make like 10 to 15x, more than we spend every year, we’re pretty frugal people. Like I don’t drive like a nice car or anything, we have a decent house. But why are we killing ourselves to make money, just so I could just tell my buddies that I run a seven figure business or I’m going for an eight figure business, that’s just dumb. And so after that talk, things changed.

Joe Valley  10:45

How did you address the changes? Like you’ve written about it in the book? You’ve lived this, you are the example of family first as an entrepreneur? How do you convey that in the book? What kind of tips are you giving to folks like me that I could have had 10 years ago, as I started on this journey of Quiet Light this all-consuming journey of Quiet Light.

Steve Chou  11:09

I’ll tell you a couple of things that I did. But first things first, we dropped all revenue goals. And we basically wrote down in a document, like literally a physical document, what our priorities were. And let me just give you an example. So I used to speak at events all the time. So I said, okay, I’m not going to speak, and no more than like six events a year. And if there’s an opportunity that comes up, we actually weighed against what I would be missing, and whether it’s worth it. And the more numbers that you can use in this document, the better to quantify all this stuff.

Joe Valley  11:44

I like first that you’re saying we, because it was you and your wife having this discussion. It wasn’t Steve, the entrepreneur trying to figure out how to dial it back, it was both of us sitting down and going through it together.

Steve Chou  11:54

Absolutely. And usually what will happen? First of all, I don’t really recommend working with your spouse and a business because it just complicates everything. But it just so happens, you know, my wife and our business partners, and we started this business originally to hang out with them, actually, you know what, let’s, let’s face it, most people start a business, not to become a billionaire. They just want the freedom to do what they want or spend time with who they want, right? Yeah, but money just always gets in the way of that. And your ego, like, trying to make more money.

Joe Valley  12:26

It’s the ego in my view. And it’s a challenging thing. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s in my view, what has us be successful entrepreneurs in the first place, we have this, I can do that mentality. And sometimes we fail. And sometimes we succeed, eventually we succeed, and we become successful entrepreneurs. I love the fact that you were having these conversations with your wife was it though, because your business partners, or because she’s your wife and your business partner, because, in my situation, my wife and I worked together back in 1997 for about a year. And then that was it for a couple of years. And then it was at. It was great, but it was necessary. But it didn’t really work. It wasn’t best for us in a relationship. So we’d been life partner since and I’m running this business, and I’d run things by her and talk and often just vent, and she’d give me you know, she’d be my feedback. But we never sat down and said, how much do we want to make? How many hours am I going to work? How present? Am I going to be like, we didn’t go through that exercise. But that’s something you intentionally did and recommend people do.

Steve Chou  13:39

You got to have the conversation. It’s very easy to get carried away with your next goal. Right? We would have this conversation whether she was my business partner or not. Because I was basically neglecting people. And I was driving her nuts, basically. And I was at my kids activities, like you said, but on Disneyland that was I was, you know, checking my emails, answering the sending the next email blasts and that sort of thing. So what do we do? That was your original question, right? How do we address this? No income goals. And let’s talk about the ego part. I got a pretty big ego in terms of excelling in certain things. Like I always want to do my best when I start a business or anything that I do. So the way I address my ego issue is I just do one thing a year, one new project a year that’s related to the business. And that’s what I do. And I try to do it as well as I can, but I only do one thing. So then just give you an example. Last year was the year of YouTube, and then I grew it to 200k subs. The year before that it was TikTok the year before that it was Google ads. This year is the book and so by just keeping my mind occupied on one thing that I just want to do well, regardless of the goal, I try my best on this one thing. And that’s what fulfills my ego today. But I generally don’t move on to another project until I’ve systematized it and made it automated in a certain way. So there’s a couple of principles that I follow, which are somewhat controversial. Like, my peers don’t necessarily agree with me. But I do not like employees, if I can replace a person with a robot, or some code, and I just happen to be an engineer, so I can code I will do so. I used to be an engineering director of microprocessor design. And I had had a lot of people under me. And what I found was that even though these employees were fantastic at what they did, there’s actually a lot of mental energy required to keep everyone happy, keep everyone motivated. And then people would ask for raises. Sometimes it’d be personal problems with other coworkers and that sort of thing. And that’s a lot of overhead that people don’t consider, like, if you have great employees, that’s great. But these mental issues will still come up, but computers will never complain.

Joe Valley  16:02

It’s a mental and mental overhead. You’re talking about not necessarily dollars. Yeah, yeah, that’s correct. Yeah. 100%. Steve, you’ve been doing this, since how long? Have you been self-employed? What year how far back?

Steve Chou  16:17

We started the store in 2007, I actually didn’t quit until 2016. My wife quit in 2008.

Joe Valley  16:23

Okay, so you’ve been full time for seven years, your wife, for much, much longer. That’s very different than a lot of the newer people that are just one or two years in to their business, I think systematizing and one new thing and trying to really, when you get to your stage, you’re making enough money to support your family and save an awful lot of money. There’s a different entrepreneur that’s probably in the audience, or somebody that is buying a new business that is just trying to reach those goals and make ends meet as they’re launching and started off the business. How do you go with a family of first approach as an entrepreneur in that case?

Steve Chou  17:08

Yeah, I’d like to follow Mike McCalla wits, his advice, which I kind of talked about in the book, which is figured out how much you need to live. Pay yourself that amount. The rest is gravy. That makes just mentally the thought of it much easier. And you’re right, when you buy a business or when you haven’t made it yet. You’re going to work really hard. And don’t get me wrong. When we first started our businesses, we actually didn’t have kids, and we committed ourselves to working hard. In other words, we turned off our friends burner. And I think at the time, I would say we turned off our health burner too, because we weren’t really eating that well. What are the other two burners that are on the, friends and health? What’s on now? A work?

Joe Valley  17:48

Oh, man, I called you out on it four burners theory Colin,

Steve Chou  17:52

I forgot what the fourth part was. We were friends a little work friends, family and health work friends, family and health. So work and family.

Joe Valley  18:02

Okay, you kept fret you kept work and family. So, you know, early on, obviously, you got it, you got to have the work burner on. So you’re giving that you just got to turn off something else. For those people that are just starting out, as we’re saying.

Steve Chou  18:16

You can’t just change your life you’re on. Like, if you already have kids, which actually a lot of people who listen to my podcast, they already have kids, I think you can’t really turn down that family burden, right? I think for me, friends is always the first thing to go. And I’ve come to learn over the years that you have to keep the health burner up. Because when you’re in good shape, then you have a lot more energy to do a lot of those things. When you let the health slip, you’re lethargic, you don’t have the energy to work longer hours.

Joe Valley  18:46

Yeah, you’re living off of Starbucks coffee, that stuff like that. You’ve been a very successful entrepreneur for years now? You’re very well known. Big podcasts conference with seller summit. The book itself? How did it come to fruition? The concept of it and getting started, can you just talk to you about did you have an epiphany moment that somebody approached you what happened to make you.

Steve Chou  19:11

So the book has always been on my bucket list. But as I was just kind of brainstorming ideas for the book, the first thing that came to mind was that all the entrepreneurship advice that I see online, is wrong. And that’s a strong statement. It’s because most entrepreneurship advice is given by single guys who don’t have any responsibilities. And they always preach that you need to work 80 hours a week, burn the midnight oil in order to succeed. And so my life, my entrepreneurship journey was not like that at all. And so the book really teaches us a way that you don’t have to do that. You can actually start a business and still be present with your family. You can still run a business and do what you want to do. It just takes a little bit of discipline in order to make that happen, what are a lot of that is killing your ego? Yeah.

Joe Valley  20:03

Clelin ego? What are the what are some of the tools and disciplines you share in the book?

Steve Chou  20:08

Yeah, so we’ve already talked about paying yourself first. One thing that we don’t mention…

Joe Valley  20:15

I do want to address that. And I do want to reinforce it. I’ve been self-employed since 1997. And life as an entrepreneur with the financial ups and downs is incredibly stressful. And it wasn’t until I did that, Steve, where I paid myself first, my wife and I figured out what we needed to live off of, and we paid ourselves and everything else was gravy, it was such a Zen feeling such peace of mind, and focus, and a lot less stress, which made life a lot more enjoyable. So I just want to reinforce that. I think it’s a brilliant, brilliant idea.

Steve Chou  20:49

Like, what I think of everything is gravy, that’s excellent, because I have no problems. And it’s important actually, to figure out how much you spend in a year to just make sure you make yourself happy, right? Just to run some numbers here. As a family, we only spend like $150,000 a year. And that allows us to do whatever. So rest is gravy. I can sleep at night. That’s the important thing. Okay. The other principle that I talked about, is something that a lot a lot of entrepreneurs, when they’re just first starting out, don’t really consider which is profit over revenue. And let me elaborate on that a little bit.

Joe Valley  21:24

This is going right back to ego, right? People sit around, say, Yeah, I did eight figures last year, I might have done half that with three times as much profit, and I’m in a better position.

Steve Chou  21:36

Well, I’m in many mastermind groups. In fact, I’m in Vegas right now recording this as part of a mastermind group. And what most people don’t realize online, is that a lot of these people that are really successful on podcasts and whatnot, are actually kind of miserable. They’re stressed out or they’re burned out. And so there’s this one guy, I won’t I won’t mention his name, but he actually really pressed himself hard to hit $10 million in revenue, which is a fantastic achievement. We’re all high fiving him and everything. But he said, he’s never been more miserable. And his profits actually went way down to hit that goal. So he said that he could have had like, maybe, 1/5 of that revenue, and still had that same profit without having to scale his team and without having to burn the midnight oil. And you just don’t hear those stories. Right? Because 10 million sounds fantastic. It’s great for the ego. So let me just go into what I was just about to talk about, like one example that I like to give is, every Black Friday, I used to run a big sale, right? Because it’s the thing to do, you run a big sale. It wasn’t until I started running the numbers did I realize that those sales were actually losing me money. And so I had this whole different vision of discounting today, let’s throw some numbers in the mix. Let’s say you sell a product for 100 bucks, and your cost of goods is $50. All right, so that means you’re making 50 bucks profit per unit. Let’s say in a typical day, you sell 100 units, that means you’re making $5,000 a day. Okay? Now, let’s say that you’re doing a 25% off sale for Black Friday. So now your new profit is 75 miles to do just $25 a unit. And to make that same $5,000, you now need to sell 200 units. Basically, that means that 25% discount, which you would think you only need to sell 25% more, you actually need to sell double just to break even the things aren’t linear, especially in e-commerce, because you have cost of goods, and you have other overhead. I was being generous at a 50% margin also.

Joe Valley  23:45

Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, there’s no that’s just if that’s just the cost of goods sold. That doesn’t count everything else that goes into the actual cost. Yeah. I agree. 100%. Profit is, what is it? Jacqueline says this right. IE, revenue is vanity. He’s got a sanity.

Steve Chou  24:04

Yeah, that’s okay. Brian, let’s quote the right guy day. Brian, his partner, Dave. Yeah, Dave.

Joe Valley  24:09

He’s a good guy. Yeah, David, I go way back actually new day before I met Mike. But it’s totally accurate and true. It doesn’t matter how much revenue you do if your profit is going down because you’re just trying to achieve that goal. One example in my life is, before I became self-employed, I worked for a direct response marketing company up in Portland, Maine. And the year I left, we did about $102 million in revenue, because 100 million was the owners goal. And that year, he lost $2 million the year before. He did $35 million in revenue, and he made $5 million. So 5 million off of 35 million, and his ego got in the way and he wanted to make nine figures in terms of revenue, but he lost $2 million in the process. Two years later, he went bankrupt. It’s, it’s, it’s our egos that are the problem as entrepreneurs more often than not. So I like this approach of paying yourself first. And, you know, cutting the revenue down and focusing on that as well. So, good approach so far. What else? What else you got? What else? What else do you talk in the book talking about in the book that I could have used in 1997 when I first started my entrepreneurial journey, Steve,

Steve Chou  24:24

just want to mention something about what you just said about revenue. I think it just depends on the type of business you have. I used to be in the VC space, and I have friends, their goal is only revenue doesn’t matter. That’s not the type of businesses we talk about in the book, The Family First Entrepreneur, is trying to make a profit so they can stay at home and whatnot. Just to make that clear.

Joe Valley  25:51

Yeah. And some revenue. Some businesses eventually trade as a multiple of revenue, a SaaS company that’s growing like crazy.

Steve Chou  25:59

Yeah. Okay. So the other thing is that I talked about that’s a little bit controversial, is, I’m not a big fan of social media. If I’m gonna work on something, I’d rather work on something once and then reap the benefits in the long term. Okay, so my friends who do social media, well, like Instagram, or Facebook and whatnot. My friend who does Instagram all posts seven times a day, my friend who does Facebook very well post 21 times a day. And guess what happens when they stop posting? The traffic stops? I don’t like that. So what I focus on is mainly Google properties, actually. So SEO and YouTube. I literally have posts that I wrote 10 years ago, that still generate me traffic and leads today, kind of on autopilot. And then I have YouTube videos that I filmed like three years ago, that’s still generate views and give me email subs. So I like to leverage my time in a better way. And that’s kind of why I have shied away from social media over the years.

Joe Valley  27:01

That’s a mature decision or a brave one, because social media is the wave. So many people are writing now. But Steve, you said a few minutes ago, and the audience is thinking Wait, wait, wait, one of your goals one year was TikTok that social media, but I’m guessing that you just didn’t post new stuff every day, you created content that could be

posted and repurposed? Or what did you do on TikTok?

Steve Chou  27:27

So TikTok is like the borderline, TikTok stuff will last maybe six months. So that’s why I was willing to do it. And let me just talk about my process here. I produce one blog post, that blog post turns into a YouTube video, like I massage the post to make it more concise video, then that video actually gets split up into multiple TikToks. Right. And then from there, I post on YouTube, YouTube shorts, as well as Instagram reels. So it’s all just that’s another principle repurposing what you got. Right?

Joe Valley  27:58

That makes a whole lot more sense when I was doing much more social media. And I stopped at the end of December 2022. Because it is constant. And it is a lot of work. I had somebody that was pulling stuff from my book, pulling things from podcasts where I was a guest and repurposing it all. But I still had to approve it all every month, and there were no posts every single day. As soon as it stopped, the traffic went down. You’re absolutely right. And I didn’t write content that could be then repurposed and permanently up on YouTube and other channels. There’s no permanence to it. It’s all very temporary stuff. So I like that approach. It’s a brave one, because most people are, again, talking so much about social media and finding influencers to talk about their product and grow their revenues, which, hey, it works at a certain at a certain level. But what you’re talking about, really, as Steve Chou up there posting, it’s you and your face and name on social media on a regular basis, like your friends that do this? Is it them that are on Facebook 21 times a day or seven times a day? Or is it they repurposing content as well.

Steve Chou  29:09

They’re repurposing also, but just even the act of posting that many times? It’s kind of a burden. You have to be involved in it, because it’s your personal bread. Right? 100%,

Joe Valley  29:21

you have to be because your voice is out there. And if a VA screws it up and says something that makes you look like an idiot, people think you’re an idiot, they’re not going to blame the VA, no question about it.

Steve Chou  29:32

And I will say this, it’s not about being brave. It’s really about efficiency, right? If you know that you can’t do it all. You got to pick and choose your platforms that you go for. Right? And so for me, and this is just a personal decision. I prefer to get the most bang for my buck, because I have limited time. If I didn’t have the kids and had all this time in the world, I’d probably try to be everywhere. In fact, I am kind of everywhere still, but I just kind of emphasize on the platforms that do really well. I’ll just add this like blogging and YouTube also pay out really well. So my YouTube channel did 35,000 just on AdSense last month. And that’s enough for me to live on. Which means that my other seven figure businesses are just gravy and that mentally just makes me sleep at night. Is that like, sleeping at night? Sleeping at night is nice.

Joe Valley  30:21

The audience has heard me bit about this in the last few episodes. So you’ve got Bumblebee Linens, and My Wife Quit Her Job. Those are the two seven-figure businesses that you referenced. That’s correct. Yes, that’s correct. And you run both of them in 20 hours a week, does your wife also work 20 hours a week?

Steve Chou  30:40

Yes, she does also. So just to be clear, my wife and I are partners on Bumblebee Linens. So she handles the operations, and I handle the marketing for Bumblebee Linens. And then we kind of made this compromise. We’re not trying to grow Bumblebee Linens more than like, maybe low double digits every year. Because especially with e-commerce, when you grow that thing fast, very uncomfortable. Because you actually have to fulfill products usually have to hire more staff, you get more inventory. And we used to fight all the time, because I’d run a promotion. And one time sales went up 7x. For sustained like that for a week. We fight every day. Yeah. So I focused he’s out there if I want to and shipping and blaming on you. Well, everyone’s in their pick packing shipping, actually. Because you either want you have to make a decision. Do you need to hire the staff? And sustain this? Or do you just slow and steady growth?

Joe Valley  31:35

Let’s talk about the everyone because I’ve been seeing your social media posts and off the block on Facebook. And they’re hilarious. You’ve got your kids in there talking about them getting paid. And, you know, you say that they are I think and one of them. They’re getting paid by you paying them to go to college, or you’re paying for their college. Yeah. Talk to me about the joy and fun of having your kids that get involved with the business. They understand what you’re doing. A lot of folks hold back, how their business is going from their children. I don’t my kids know everything. You seem to share an awful lot. And educating your kids as entrepreneurs as you go along. This journey is that right.

Steve Chou  32:19

We’re educating them, but not because we’re like shoving in their faces. Like they see what we’re doing. And they want to take part. And so my son and daughter actually started their own online store, Print on Demand. It’s called Kid in Charge. They started with their allowance money. And they made 1000 bucks in a month when they launched that thing. And that’s a lot of money for them. So, we put it towards their college education.

Joe Valley  32:46

You didn’t give them seed money. So you don’t want a portion of it. It was the babysitting money. Okay, just checking right? Kids in Charge, what’s it called?

Steve Chou  32:54 It’s entrepreneurship T-shirts for kids. So the process for that was they would design something. I would set it off to get digitized. And then we put it on a shirt and then they would market it on Facebook by making videos once again. Awesome, so awesome. And they learned that from you and your wife. They did yes. So I helped them with that first design but my daughter’s new site. selling her own jewelry is entirely hers from start to finish.

Joe Valley  33:26

I’ve tried to put these in the show notes and get spellings for these types of things. Reena Bee, how do you spell that?

Steve Chou  33:32

Reena Bee. She chose bee because Mar stores Bumblebee Linens. So she chose

Joe Valley  33:42

She’s making the connection. She’s going to hopefully tap into the bumblebee linens audience and they have a quick boost in revenue, right? She’s smart.

Steve Chou  33:49

Well, I’m excited about her new project, which she’s going to start a little entrepreneurship class for teens like a course. No kidding. And she’s a little apprehensive about going live on video because I’m convincing her that, she needs to go live to sell this. Otherwise, it’ll be a little harder. So it should be really good for her to practice like her broadcasting skills.

Joe Valley  34:16

Yeah, well, I see you on the videos with her. And it seems like she’s a natural assumption. It’s gonna go great.

Steve Chou  34:21

She is pretty good. But she’s never done anything entirely impromptu for like 30 minutes or more. She’s great. And like short bursts.

Joe Valley  34:28

We all are at first and then you gain that experience and you become the expert and can talk about it. Whatever. Like a lot of people will say to me if they’re coming on the podcast. Do I have a list of questions for them? Like hell? No, you’re the expert. We’re just gonna let it fly and you’ll figure it out. I’m not gonna ask you questions about mountain climbing. If you’re a deep sea diver, you’re the expert. It’s okay. You do that very well. I’m sure you do that on your own podcast as well. Right. You don’t have any path the same formula?

Steve Chou  34:56

Yeah, no, never, never had been awful experience.

Joe Valley  35:00

All right. So let’s go back to the idea of the book, this is on your bucket list. And you’re doing it differently than I did. I used Scribe Media and essentially paid for it. And got the book published. You have been out there enough that I didn’t think you needed to do that. Right. Are you comfortable sharing where this happened versus me?

Steve Chou  35:28

Yeah, so I want to go the traditionally published route. And let me just go through a couple of reasons. So I’ve been doing this for a long time writing blog posts, but my mom has never read anything. It was only after I told her I’m doing a traditionally published book by HarperCollins. She got all excited. It’s like, oh, we’re gonna get the book. I want to read it. I’m like, okay, so basically, you’re all about like, the credentials. I remember one time, like, she didn’t really take our handkerchief business seriously, which is Bumblebee Linens. Until we got mentioned in Forbes, and then all of a sudden, she went nuts. So yeah, that was another reason.

Joe Valley  36:04

It’s just always that little boy to your mother. And that’s the reason for that.

Steve Chou  36:07

I am, because we’re brought up, you know, in such a way that we don’t get positive affirmation for the things that we do. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. So yeah.

Joe Valley  36:21

My mother’s it’s a funny thing, my mother, and father, neither one of them have ever read my book. My mother in law, on the other hand, has read it thoroughly. And her brother has read it thoroughly and recommended it to friends. They didn’t grow up with me as a child, but my mother and father, it’s just Joey to them, right little Joey, the fourth child and a family of four. Then they’re not going to read my book ever. It’s interesting. What about your in laws? Have they ever read any of the blog posts or articles on Bumblebee Linen?

Steve Chou  36:53

No, they have not. But they will read this traditionally published book now.

Joe Valley  36:58

That’s the way it is HarperCollins. And what does it take? Your goal is to be a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, is that right?

Steve Chou  37:07

That’s correct. I think New York Times is too up in the air, like I’ll try, you know, but there’s too many other factors in there.

Joe Valley  37:14

Yeah, New York Times is not just about numbers. There’s a lot of other factors, right? Wall Street Journal is about the numbers. So you’ve got to sell a certain amount of books in your category in a one week period. If I understand, sir, is that right? Correct. That’s right. The Walker didn’t run you through the Oh, no, he didn’t numbers. Okay. All right. There’s plenty. Got it. Why don’t you run me through the numbers so the audience can hear, because they are entrepreneurs. They all have families, and they all should buy the book. And I want them to not wait, I want you to buy it right now, by the end of this podcast. So Steve, I want to help you, we want to help you not only get to Wall Street Journal, bestselling author, but mainly because we need this book as entrepreneurs. Right? I’m nearing the latter stage of my entrepreneurial journey. I’m not done yet. But I’m at the latter stage. And if I had had it in 1997, I would have had an awfully long period of health and focus and relaxation. I might have been burning more burners. Right? Could I burnt? Could I burn all four would have had to turn me off. If I read your book, probably at some point. But your approach just makes more sense, I would have been more present for my family. I would have paid myself first a long time ago. We’ve just done this in last few years. And the idea of growing slow, because of focus on family is so novel, right? Our egos just get in the way and we want to grow businesses as quickly as possible. Like I get excited. Like I’ve said it ego wise, quiet likes grown 55% year over year since Mark and I became full partners in 2018. There you go. 55%. If we just grow 10% a year for the next decade, we’re at that point where, you know, bursting at the seams is not all that fun. Let’s grow slow. Let’s grow steady. Let’s continue to do it. Right. Let’s keep our lives healthy, our family’s healthy, and our team healthy more than anything else. So all of your advice is ringing home to me. And hopefully with the audience as well. But the problem with books is you actually have to buy them and you have to read them. Too many people these days just want all the answers like that. It sounds like your book is something that people can keep referencing, and put some actions into play over time and eventually be in a position like you are working 20 hours a week running two seven figure businesses and living off very little of it. But I’m ranting here.

Steve Chou  39:47

To be clear, Joe, let’s be clear here. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to grow slowly. Because my wife quit her job because it’s a digital business has grown really fast. You just need systems in place. So If you can handle the growth, by all means do it. Right.

Joe Valley  40:04

I hear you, I hear you. And I think you’re right. But let’s get back to numbers. How many books does one need to sell in their category, in order to become a Wall Street Journal bestseller, the audience would probably want some, some people in the audience. What’s the number?

Steve Chou  40:21

I would say five to 6000 copies in a week. And here’s some tips for your audience who are writing books. You mentioned before, people don’t like to read. So you’re not actually selling the books, you’re selling the bonuses. So that’s why, for my book, I’ve given away a three day workshop on e-commerce, as soon as you signed up, this is a literally three hours of video, a two day course on how to make money with content for everything that I do, which is podcasting, blogging, and YouTube. And I’m also doing what I call a six week family first challenge, where I’m literally walking everyone through how to figure out what their next side hustle is, and how to balance all of this in real time. And that’s going to take place after the book launches. One thing that I’m doing in April, is every single week, I’m putting out a new piece of content or a new workshop, and you have to buy the book to get that if you buy it after the workshop, then you don’t get access to that content. And so this is creating a sense of urgency for people to actually get the book.

Joe Valley  41:23

You’re so much smarter than I am. That’s the bottom.

Steve Chou  41:26

Well, it’s a lot more work, Joe, it’s a lot more work to do it this way.

Joe Valley  41:30

It is, but you’re helping more people, right, because as I just said, people don’t read books anymore. And you’re offering bonuses and tools that are going to appeal to a variety of people and the way they like to learn some people love learning by books, other one, the book on tape, other one, a course others want all video, there’s so many ways that we learn as human beings, it sounds like you’re offering a wide variety of them. So that’s going to appeal to a broader range of people. And then the book, at the end of the day is something that they’ll have physically and refer back to hopefully, time and time again. But the bonuses are, it’s pretty smart. So how does it work? When somebody wants to order something? What’s the pain just for the cost of the book? What website do they go to in order to do it, and then, that kind of stuff.

Steve Chou  42:24

If you want access to the bonuses, you go over to Hopefully, you guys can all spell that I keep misspelling it myself, all you got to do is just preorder the hardcover of the book at your favorite retailer, there’s a form that you fill out where you upload a copy of receipt. And then I will send you a login to a private membership site, where all the content lives. So you can think of it like a course in a way you get a login, you get access to all these videos and tutorials in addition to the book,

Joe Valley  42:59 preorder the hardcover of the book, is gonna be the hardcover and then upload the receipt, you’ll have a digital receipt that you upload.

Steve Chou  43:12

There’s a form that yeah, just take a snapshot doesn’t really matter. Yeah.

Joe Valley  43:16

Okay. And then you’ll get all the bonuses for the bonuses that you’re just making. Can you run through those again, one more time?

Steve Chou  43:22

Yes, you get a three day workshop on e-commerce. You get a two day workshop on content, which includes blogging, podcasting and YouTube. And then I’m doing a six week live challenge where I will be present with you guys on a Facebook group doing live broadcasts, answering questions and that sort of thing to help you find your family first side hustle.

Joe Valley  43:47

Okay, one of the things I didn’t do here Steve at the beginning of the podcast was have you tell the audience all of these things that you do right we’ve talked about bumble bee Linens and seller summit briefly I talked about it but we haven’t really clearly educated the audience on what a badass you are in terms of e-commerce and content development and running two very successful businesses. Talk to me about the few things that you do. You’ve got a podcast what’s the name of the podcast?

Steve Chou  44:23

Podcast is called My Wife Quit Her Job. Okay, then blog is called My Wife Quit Her Job.

Joe Valley  44:28

Yeah. And what in the blog is, what is that business about?

Steve Chou  44:36

That this is basically documents my journey e-commerce and it’s become somewhat of like an encyclopedia of e-commerce covering both Amazon and selling on your store. I also talk a little about philosophy, money philosophy, wealth building and that sort of thing on there as well.

Joe Valley  44:51

Okay. And that’s been around for a long time since 2009, seven-figure business. And then Bumblebee linens is a physical product e-commerce business that’s been around since 2008. I think you said your wife, 2007 is when we started. And you then you quit your full time job to focus on that as well. In 2015, you went to Stanford University for engineering, you’re no dummy. Right?

Steve Chou  45:23

I actually love, Stanford University. I actually love being an engineer. It’s funny, there’s been times where I considered going back to work, because there’s a lot of things you can’t really build. Unless you have a team in the tech space.

Joe Valley  45:38

You don’t like employees, so you can’t do that. I’m telling you right now. You’re not allowed to do that.

Steve Chou  45:42

I’m not allowed to do that. Okay, maybe I’ll start my next tech company. How’s that Joe? Is that acceptable?

Joe Valley  45:48

I don’t know. Only if you outsource anything. That’s the key. That’s the key. Did you? You when I first met, I think at ECF in California.

Steve Chou  45:59

I think it was the first one. Did we meet at Austin? No, were you in Austin?

Joe Valley  46:04

No, not the first ECF. The first CCF I went to was an ECF, folks is e-commerce fuel. It’s a great event, great mastermind group. And the other one is seller Summit. We didn’t talk about that you and Tony do CF summit every year in May, right?

Steve Chou  46:19

That’s correct. The reason? Okay, let me just tell you the reason why I started that. I always wanted to be a keynote speaker and no one was asking me, so I started my own event. And hey, I asked myself to be the keynote. I said, yes. I also hate large events. So I purposely made this one small and intimate. It’s 200 people. And we mastermind on the first day we break up into groups of 10 to 12 people in our in a room we cater and food and we just do it hot seat style helping each other. Like that’s the type of event I want. So that’s why I created it.

Joe Valley  46:49

And we love going as a team. I personally, we always have conflict schedule wise, my son runs track, also from ran track in high school. And I, as I said earlier, I don’t miss those events. And so I’ve got certain people that go every year and they will fight tooth and nail to make sure that they get to go back, right we’ve got 14 advisors fighting over certain events that they want to go to and those that originally went to seller summit will not let anyone else and so they love it as well, just because as you said it’s small groups of entrepreneurs that actually can have conversations and get to know each other. It’s not a room full of 250 people listening to one person speak for an hour and a half at a time back to back, back to back, back to back. So it’s a great event. So we’ve got Bumblebee Linens, we’ve got My Wife Quit Her Job. We’ve got My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, and we’ve got Seller Summit.

Steve Chou  47:42

YouTube channel and Seller Summit.

Joe Valley  47:44

What’s the YouTube channel?

Steve Chou  47:45

It’s My Wife Quit Her Job also. Yeah, that literally just started making I told you it makes like 35,000 a month just on AdSense revenue that just started like, that literally just started like a year ago. The revenue part like it wasn’t making money yet. It took me three

Joe Valley  48:01

What are you doing on it, though? Is it are you just you’re not reading your blog posts? Is it you? Is it your face?

Steve Chou  48:08

It’s me, it’s my face, I take a blog post, I repurpose it and make it concise for video. I also do my own, you know, from scratch videos also. And I put them out on YouTube and they do pretty well.

Joe Valley  48:21

Are you doing like when you say you? Are you sitting in front of the camera like you are now and you’re producing the video? Are you editing the video.

Steve Chou  48:30

I’m not editing it anymore. I edited the first couple of videos. And then what I did is I recorded a video of me editing it and then I found someone to do it. Because editing just takes a tremendous amount of time. I always do things in what I feel like it’s an efficient way. So literally when I record just a talking head, me in from my bookcase. And then I have the editor add in like different camera and not camera angles, but different zoom points, annotations and B roll. It’s all of this.

Joe Valley  48:58

How long are the videos on YouTube?

Steve Chou  49:00

10 to 15 minutes? Well, now that there’s no real formula in terms of length, although YouTube wants people to stay on and watch longer. So I always do a minimum of 10 minutes. That’s just me. More importantly, if anyone listening wants to do YouTube channel, I would say the number one piece of advice I have is have a setup where filling videos is frictionless. For the longest time, I couldn’t get started because it would take me 20 minutes to set the lights and everything. Now I just have one button that I just hit and I just start recording. And I think getting a teleprompter is also key. So you mentioned reading off of something. I just have bullet points and then just kind of add limit. Just keep the camera running. It takes maybe 2025 minutes to film video. Check it over the editor that doesn’t take that much time at all.

Joe Valley  49:50

Do you like I’ve done these before? And when I’m a little less picky or when I let my ego go, I can get it done and get it done well with me in my natural persona without it being perfect. I’m it’s better when it’s not perfect, right when there’s flubs and flaws, I don’t. In fact, with this podcast, I can’t remember the last time we edited anything. If I’ve said something stupid, it’s because I’m human, and we don’t edit it out. I love the frictionless idea, I think is brilliant. Because I think it’s so important because you just can’t get started if you try to make it perfect. If you think you have to buy all this equipment and everything and get your lighting perfect and your background perfect. You’re never really going to get started. What do you do when you’re actually shooting if it’s not absolutely perfect? How flexible are you with letting your true human side come out?

Steve Chou  50:54

I think with YouTube, it’s a little different, because you need people to keep watching it. I think all of that stuff can be handled in post. Right, you screw up, what I do is I just repeat the line that I just said again, continue on, and then anything can be edited. That’s the beauty of video. And I always try to cut things pretty tightly so that it just flows. Sometimes it might be a little jerky, but that’s fine, because that keeps someone’s attention. So I wouldn’t leave my mistakes in there. Unless I was doing outtakes on podcast. That’s perfectly fine. Anything on YouTube? I don’t know. It just depends actually.

Joe Valley  51:26

Then we’re just gonna go on and on here. I’m just going to keep asking questions. Hopefully you want to go work out? Do you have any of your courses and nav or your educational stuff? Do you teach people how to do YouTube videos? You do?

Steve Chou  51:41

Yeah, I run two training classes. One covers e-commerce that’s over a profitable online And the one that covers blogging, YouTube and podcasting, it’s called

Joe Valley  51:53

Okay, I thought we had three things that you did in 20 hours a week. Now you got two additional things are those like subsets of someone when…

Steve Chou  52:00

I lump all those under My Wife Quit Her Job to be honest with you of courses.

Joe Valley  52:04

Okay. All right.

Steve Chou  52:07

Well, I can tell you how I manage those really easily. So I just give one live session a week. And I put them into a video repository after I’ve edited them. So the library of videos just grows over time. I’ve been running profitable online store since 2011. And just imagine putting out one lesson a week for however many years over a decade. Really good library now. And people love the live instruction. So it’s kind of low energy. I just do that Wednesday mornings.

Joe Valley  52:38

When you do live instruction are people asking questions. Are they joining us?

Steve Chou  52:44

There’s a live chat. Yeah. Very cool. And when you started, how many people showed up? You ever have any ice days or weeks? Yeah, you know, one person. I started the class without any content. And then I sold 35 seats with no content. And I was like, okay, dang, I got to actually make this course now. So there’s never really one person there, because I started out with 35 seats, and I didn’t have any content. So they were forced to actually go to that classroom to start.

Joe Valley  53:15

Okay, so you created you sold the content, you sold the seats first. And then you built the course? What were the live sessions about? It was just, you know, certain points in the course that you went over live? Is that how it worked?

Steve Chou  53:30

Well, when I first started it, I started from the beginning, ecommerce from scratch, right? And it was pretty sequential these days. I have people joining in all different times. So I have them watch certain things. And in the live sessions, I give a lesson based on what I’m working on right now. Because there’s always new stuff in e-comm. And I just answer questions about anything, could be any topic or whatever, during the q&a session.

Joe Valley  53:51

Very cool. You and I have not spent enough time together. We’re always running in different directions. And I never get to Seller Summit. Even if I got to cellar Summit, you’d be too busy running it so I wouldn’t be able to spending time with you. It’s a damn shame. I didn’t get to ECF this year. I tried to get there next year and see if we can spend more time. I mean, there’s a wealth of information for those in the audience. Check out all the URLs with that we’ve shared please, please, please do yourself a favor and go to Buy the hardcover book, upload the receipt and get all these free bonuses that seed is talking about. He knows what he is talking about. He lives the family first entrepreneur life first. And as a fellow entrepreneur that’s been doing this for a very long time, right 1987 That’s 26 years. It’ll be 26 years in September, that I’ve been self-employed. It’s awesome. It’s exciting. It’s brutal. I love it and I hate it and it’s painful and joyful and very fulfilling all at the same time. But to level all of that out right I just talked about UPS downs. ups down, to level it all out with all these things that you’re talking about. In your book, Steve, I think is a resource that so many people would use. I knew I couldn’t use it back in 1997 and beyond. So thank you for writing it. I know how difficult it is to write a book and to write it well. And I love your approach of giving out free bonuses to everybody. Look, let’s everybody that’s listening to the audience to this podcast. Let’s help Steve hit the wall street journal bestseller list, not just for Steve, but for all of the other entrepreneurs out there that should be buying this book and getting these free bonuses because it’s necessary to live a healthy family first life as an entrepreneur, we’ll all be happier in the long run, not with how much money we have, but with our experiences, memories that we’ve had with our family along the way. So Mr. Chou, thank you.

Steve Chou  55:53

I’ll put it a different way. Joe, I would say Help yourself, because I guarantee you that you will get 20x your value from the bonuses. In addition the book, I guarantee it. That’s just the way I operate over-deliver.

Joe Valley  56:05

Dude, I think you’re shooting 20x the price the book is probably 200x Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Steve, thanks for coming on the podcast, man. Congratulations on the book real excited. Hopefully, everybody’s gonna go out and buy it. You’re gonna do well, I’m sure. Thanks so much for your time.

Steve Chou  56:23

Thank you so much.

Outro  56:26

Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at [email protected]. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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