Fourteen years ago, after having analyzed the latest market news and prospects, Jen and Steve Chou, made a decision that was quite unpopular then, leaving their 9 to 5 jobs to start businesses of their own that would allow them to spend more time with their family. Today, the couple don’t just have the joy of running their own businesses, they both make over $1 million in annual income and the icing on the cake is that they get to spend as much time as they want with their two children.
In 2007, Jen began the Bumblebee Linens business. The firm focuses on production of custom made handkerchiefs, aprons and towels. The business was co-founded with her husband, Steve, who also began a blog, My Wife Quit Her Job, where he detailed the business lives of the couple. Today, the blog has found enormous success and now features ebooks, a podcast and also had its own in-person conferences.
Speaking on the joy of being masters of their own time, the couple noted that being their own bosses allowed them to get more involved in their children’s lives as they are able to volunteer at their school while also having the time to drive them to various extracurricular activities. According to Jen, their kids are “probably” tired of having them around constantly. She, however, pointed out that they constantly try to remind them of how lucky they are to have parents who are constantly around.
How it all began
For Jen, having her own business allows her to be there for her kids as her mom died when she was still very much young. Being her own boss allows her to “take that time back” and be there for her own kids in a way her mom wasn’t.
So, when she was pregnant with her first child, she decided to quit her job as a financial analyst which kept her occupied from the start of the day into late night meetings.
At first, the couple had successfully sold off the excess handkerchiefs they had purchased as favors for their weddings. The success of this little business convinced them that something similar could create a new income stream. So they began with a $600 investment used to purchase a few handkerchiefs and a digital camera that was used to photograph the pieces.
Jen’s dream for the business was $5,000 but in little to no time, the business was growing rapidly and what started as a business out of the garage soon had its own warehouse space and two employees. Today, Bumblebee Linens make as much as $1 million annually and Jen is able to rake in around $500,000 in profit.
Though the couple are both involved in the running of the business, Jen tends to focus on the operations of the company as she is in charge of packing, shipping and the embroidery process while Steve focuses majorly on the marketing.
Steve who had been inundated by questions from colleagues on how is wife is able to pull up a business of such magnitude quit his job as an electrical engineering director in 2016 so as to focus fully on his role at Bumblebee and his blog.
Since then, the site has grown and offers readers a lifetime access for $1900 which allows them to read courses on building an e-commerce business, video tutorials and podcasts.
Apart from earnings from subscription, the blog also earns via advertising affiliate revenue, sponsorships and an annual in-person e-commerce event.
The perks of being their own bosses
Apart from earning $1 million combined, the couple feels they are not particularly wealthy when compared to their Silicon Valley neighbors who have had major exits in huge companies.
However, despite the fact that their earnings far outstrip majority of the US population, the couple insists that they are frugal with their spendings.
The two work 20 hours in a week. Jen mostly spends her free time in her daughter’s school where she volunteers with the student entrepreneurship program. For Steve, work typically closes by 12:30 before resuming his job as a “full time Uber driver” for the children.
The growth of their separate businesses also means that while Jen is trying to contain the growth of her business, Steve is open to increasing the numbers of his 5000 students.