Beginning in 2007, all of the businesses that I’ve been involved with have consistently grown in the double or triple digits every year. And overall, I’ve started 3 six figure businesses online.
First, there was my ecommerce store that I launched with my wife in 2007.
The following year I began blogging at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. 2 years later, I launched my online store course. Last year, I started the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
And this year, I’m held my very first ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit which sold out quickly and was a major success!
Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning how to start your own online store, click here to take my FREE 6 day mini course on ecommerce.
My online store, my blog and my ecommerce course EACH generate a very healthy six figures in profit and the podcast recently started earning revenue as well. (Click here to read my yearly income report for my blog and my online store respectively).
Meanwhile by day, I still work a full time job as a hardware engineering director designing microprocessors.
Update: I finally decided to quit my day job. Here’s why
While this sounds like a lot of projects to take on in addition to hanging out with my 2 kids, the truth of the matter is that I still feel like I have tons of free time.
I spend every weekend with my family and rarely do I ever feel stressed out during the week.
In fact, I’ve been asked the same question many times in the past. How do I manage to fit so much stuff into my schedule, grow my businesses and still have time for family and a full time job? Here’s how I operate.
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I Avoid Context Switching
First off, I avoid context switching at all costs.
Using microprocessor lingo, context switching is when your CPU switches back and forth between different tasks. For example when you are using your smart phone to flip back and forth between apps, your processor is frantically trying to toggle between different tasks or contexts.
Now you might not be aware of this but there’s a pretty major penalty every time a CPU has to do this. For example, it has to remember where it left off with the previous task, load things back into memory for that program and then continue.
Lots of CPU cycles are wasted in the process.
Humans are no different. Have you ever tried to do work on your computer only to find yourself browsing Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and then flipping back wondering where the heck you left off?
Have you ever looked at your “To Do List” and tried to tackle more than one thing simultaneously? This used to happen to me all the time.
Every time you change tasks, you waste valuable time and brain power.
Today whenever I sit down at my desk, I aim to accomplish at most 1 or 2 goals for the day. And I crunch through all of them with zero distractions until I’m done.
And by zero distractions, I literally mean zero!
I don’t answer the phone. I don’t check texts. I don’t check email. Heck, I don’t even eat or drink! I’m in the zone.
When it’s time to get work done, it helps to have only 1 thing in mind to accomplish for the day. Anymore will cause you to waste brain power switching contexts. And it’s a given that you must block out Facebook and other social media distractions.
What this also means is that you have to fiercely prioritize. After all, when your objective is to accomplish only 1 thing for the day, that 1 thing better be important.
I Ensure Forward Progress
Do you ever feel like you’re working hard on your businesses but not making forward progress? Do you ever feel like you are just treading water? I know I’ve felt this way in the past.
For me, every single week there are a lot of “maintenance” tasks that need to take place just to keep things afloat.
For example every week I publish at least 1 blog post and 1 podcast. Now on the surface, this doesn’t seem like a lot but writing these posts takes a hell of a long time.
First off, every article takes hours to write. Then I have to proofread and search for images before it can be published. Finally, I have to write an email blast that goes out to my list.
Likewise with the podcast, I have to spend time arranging interview schedules with my guests. Then the audio needs to get edited along with show notes and an image as well.
Note: I also have to answer emails, take care of my students and other course related tasks as well.
All of the above is what it takes just to keep the motor running from week to week. And if this is all I accomplish, the status quo stays the same and my businesses do not grow.
In order to actually grow the business, I need to do outreach/marketing, get featured on other podcasts/blogs and work on my sales funnels and new products to sell.
So to prevent stagnation or “treading water” syndrome, I dedicate 1 day out of the week towards the pursuit of forward progress. And on this 1 day, I do not do any maintenance tasks whatsoever.
Every minute of that day is devoted to growing all of my businesses.
For example, last week I implemented a brand new abandoned shopping cart sequence for my online store. The week before that I improved and added to my email autoresponder sequence for my course. Several weeks before that, I implemented a brand new PPC ad campaign.
Because I dedicate this one day towards growth, I tend to finish my “maintenance tasks” much sooner and my businesses always move forward.
Progress is sometimes slow but it’s consistently up and to the right.
I Outsource Repetitive Tasks
Before I launched my podcast, my schedule was pretty cushy. I was only writing once a week and I could easily fit everything business related within a 5 hour a week time window on my own.
But then I started my podcast and my schedule went out the window.
Here’s the thing about running my podcast. I interview guests as the main feature of the show. And as a result, I have to cater to their schedules at the expense of my own. Sometimes a guest can only do an interview during lunch.
So what do I do? I have to drive 20 minutes back home, do the interview, and then schlep my way back to the office on a weekday. Sometimes, the guest can only chat at 7am so I have to roll out of bed half asleep, do the interview and then rush the kids off to school.
Then there’s editing the podcast which takes a TON of time. You’ll notice that my podcast audio tends to have very few pauses and ums and that’s because it’s all post processed for your listening pleasure.
In addition, an image needs to be created (for Pinterest purposes) and show notes need to be written as well.
For a while I was doing all of this myself and nearly burned out in the process. Thankfully, I found a friend of mine to do the editing for me and she’s been awesome. These days, I just drop off the podcast audio on dropbox and it magically comes back edited within a few days.
Likewise, I drop off the audio to my transcriptionist and my podcast magically gets transcribed within a week. I’ve also hired people to do some of my image creation and handle my Pinterest accounts too.
While I can’t outsource the actual interview portion of the podcast, almost everything else is taken care of.
After you’ve run your businesses for a while, it’s easy to become complacent and stagnant. For example, 2 years ago my online store barely grew in the double digits because I sat back and didn’t try very many new marketing strategies.
Now it’s not because I was being lazy per se but it’s because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t have much new to try because I wasn’t aware of the possibilities.
Fast forward to today, I consistently meet with several mastermind groups on a regular basis. And by talking to other entrepreneurs, I’m pushed to try new strategies and tactics for my businesses.
For example, the reason I tried Bing ads was because one of my ecommerce buddies made fun of me for ignoring the #2 search engine in the US!
The reason I tried Facebook ads in the first place was because of a talk I attended at an ecommerce conference.
The reason I started selling on Amazon is because Lars Hundley hounded me into submission.
In the latter of half of this year, I plan on giving more webinars because one of my podcast guests, Grant Baldwin, got me really excited about it.
When it comes to growing your businesses, it always helps to share your experiences with other entrepreneurs. By educating each other in regards to what’s working and what’s not, you can be more efficient with your time.
When it comes to time management and growth, it’s more of a mental hurdle to overcome than anything else. In reality, you have a lot more time than you think and it’s just a matter of reducing the waste.
To sum up this entire post, here are the keys to the success and growth of your businesses.
- Focus on 1 task at a time and remove all distractions.
- Always dedicate at least one day towards growth.
- Share your successes with other entrepreneurs.
- Outsource repetitive tasks.
If you do these things, your revenues will consistently grow up and to the right!
photo credit: Hlpwntd Pero Mrnarevic, Americana
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.
38 thoughts on “How To Grow 3 Six Figure Businesses While Working A Full Time Job With 2 Kids”
That makes total sense Steve. I only juggle two businesses and still sometimes forget what I was working on before the last few tabs got opened on my laptop. Your plan sounds like it could be really beneficial for me, and I plan to give it a shot. Thanks for sharing it.
On another note, I read the post you linked to about your 2014 income report for the store. I’d love to see a post about the specific tools and reports that you used to come up with those numbers. I’m not too good about regularly tracking the numbers in my businesses as I should be and could really use a good tutorial about what to be looking at (and where to find it) on a monthly/quarterly/annual basis.
Hey Carole. While I would love to take credit for running the numbers, my wife does all of the books. She used to be a financial analyst and is a wizard with excel. I can’t really follow her spreadsheets to be honest with you.
Guess I need a wife!
I already put your suggestions to work. Needed to write an article I’d been putting off, so opened a different browser without temptations lurking on it and I finished the project!
Don’t you have a husband already? He must be useful for something:)
Focusing on 1 task without distraction is one of the toughest. Most of the time I will be thinking what else I can do. Hope I will control it sooner and be focused.
Thanks for the great advice, it helps me because I too have a day job + family ☺
The 1 task rule works great especially with no distractions. At home, I’m notorious for ignoring everyone (including my wife) when I’m in the zone.
Great post Steve. Makes me really think about how I spend my time when I have it, since I have two girls as well. You mentioned two mastermind groups you are a part of. I think this is a hole for me since I am not a part of a “mastermind” yet. Can I ask, did you start one yourself or were you asked to join both? What made you say YES when you were approached if you were asked? If you started one yourself, what is the mission you created to use to ask the potential participants? Thanks for any help.
I’m also interested in mastermind groups, how you find and join them?
You have to get out there, go to conferences and network with other small business owners.
Mainly I’ve been asked to participate in various mastermind groups after meeting people face to face at conferences. I like to have a variety of different groups. For example, I have one group for blogging, another for info related products and another for ecommerce. This way I get a good variety for everything that I’m working on.
I love this Steve. I’m a big believer in focusing on the task at hand and not “Context Switching” as you put it. Keep rocking it, buddy!
Thanks man. See you in Charlotte!
As always Steve, sage advice.
I keep lists of the “to dos” for the day, but often they are too general/scattered. Better to focus down on one thing.
No context switching.
No context switching.
No context switching.
My new mantra. Thanks for another great post.
Your friend from Toronto
Alexa! You’re still with me! Why are you reading this post when you should be working?!?
Busted! Oh no, busted again!
Needed this today! I was laid off and wanted to relaunch my social media consulting business, and grow my blog. I felt like I was keeping the blog afloat (as it’s my source of income and fun travel projects) to the neglect of the business, or vice versa….then I thought about how much time I spend with distractions. You are so right!
I work in social media, so it’s really easy to get sucked in. Or when you’re writing a post, to carelessly click over to Facebook, or worse yet, respond consistently and quickly as texts come in. When you put distractions first, you put your business last, you’re reactive not proactive. Thanks for a kick in the tush 🙂
Hi Ms. Frugal Beautiful!
I’m sorry to hear about your layoff. But I also do know that you are well connected in the community so I know you’ll do just fine:) Good luck with your businesses!
What an awesome post, I am finding it challenging with a full time job and building ONE online business and I don’t even have kids yet though I have one big kid (my husband!) Hats off to you, I am inspired by you dude.
Rumor has it that husbands are harder to take care of than newborns. Good luck to you!
Great article, very easy to read and down to earth….no fluff. I like it!!
Hi Steve I enjoyed reading your post but I am unclear on how you manage with a full time job? I work full time 8-5 and after I get home and eat my dinner it is close to 8 pm. I end up falling asleep attempting to work on my business and then I try to do everything on the weekend. How many hours do you dedicate per day Mon-Fri?
I do all of my business work after 8pm on Mon-Wed. On Sunday nights, I write my post. Thurs-Sun afternoon are free.
A great post and it’s certainly amazing achievement to be successful with 3 businesses while working full time job. A lot of people dream to be where you are in order to spend more time with their families. Take a look at Pat Flynn, who is also very successful and try to spend time with his family. This is one of the reasons that people really admire him.
However, it seems that you certainly love your corporate job more than the time that it would allow you more time with your family, or you simply just love the money from your corporate job more. I have a friend who earn $50k/month from rental properties and still working at high-tech company because he cannot stand to spend the whole weekdays with his wife and his kid (but he’s fine with spending the weekend with his family).
Great post Steve. I love the bit about context switching and focus.
One question though: you say that you only focus one task/item a day, but how does the schedule from your 9-5job affect that task? Surely you’ve got tasks and KPI’s at your day job that you must focus/expend mental energy on.
I find that my day job takes a lot of my energy and it can be a bit of a challenge to keep up the focus for my business when I’m at home.
Do you streamline/automate your 9-5 so that you’ve got energy for other tasks or is it simply a matter of leaving work at the office taking a break then starting again?
I have also noticed that working on 2-3 projects a day is not good for me. I’ll try to focus on ONE only and get more stuff done in the process. Same with outsourcing some of my work (which doesn’t need my expertise/talent). Have already done it once (some wordpress coding stuff) and it saved me A LOT of time for only 35 bucks.
It’s really an informative and amazing post! Thanks for sharing your tips. I also think that focusing on one thing makes everything easier.
It would really be a hard time working and earning up to six digits especially when your taking care of 2 kids at the same time. This is called dedication and love.
I had been searching for any possibilities of work at home business almost everyday of my spare time mostly before I start my day. I am a CNA at 48 I am already having back problems since I work 57 OT hours on top of my regular 80. Now there is no hours to pick for OT that means I am doomed. So, now that I am quite available I want to make use of this time to dig knowledge on how to successful and not breaking my back.
I know there is something for me for home business that will make me financially free of all the debts I have. I have peanut butter business in my country before as my side line while I was working as Postmaster. So, I business minded in nature.
However, migrating to the US I felt I was lost. I do not know how to start a productive business career here for myself. Because I do not know what to do and how to do it.
I am super excited to have my own business again but just don’t know where to start and how to properly do it.
Do not worry about the how..neither the when it will happen..just start.. things will start falling into place..the universe will send you answers and before you know it, you have had everything you needed infront of you all along.. and don’t worry.. worry increases stress and anxiety and gets you literally nowhere.. everyone has a special gift.. ask and you shall receive.. ask for your gift to be shown to you and then you will know what business you should focus on..
Hello Steve your lecture is quiet reveling. Please I want to ask how do I have a website. Must i have a website to sell online and thou do I sell online vis a VI’s how to connect product from China to my online store
Hello Steve. I’m so glad to have come across your website. This is the course I’ve been looking for. I hope to be one of your students very soon. It seems there’s a lot of information out there but I’m looking to learn from someone who has actually done it. Just reviewing the behind the scene course gave a good first impression of expectations and good transparency. This is what sets you apart.
Thank you Erica
Hi Steve, great stuff!
Distraction is there all the time and sometimes you have multiple task in a row. Prioritize the task on hand and work towards it will be great.
I like your idea of knowing what you don’t know for growth. This is the same quote for being in the comfort zone and not learning new stuff.
Thanks Steve, I’m really inspired! Keep up the good work!
Heh… Thanks for this post! Just what I needed…
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