Becoming a family-first entrepreneur is all about balance. When Steve Chou, a highly renowned entrepreneur and educator in the e-commerce space, creator of multiple 7-figure businesses, and founder of BumblebeeLinens.com asked me if I heard the four burner theory before, I was intrigued.
Steve Chou, has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He contributes to leading industry publications and has created multiple 7 figure businesses.
Over the course of a decade in creating these successful businesses, he set out on a journey to build a life of balance. What he found was an endless schedule and work that wore him and his family down.
He learned to create balance the hard way, but he did learn, and change. Now, he’s written a book called The Family First Entrepreneur.
It’s great to have Steve on the show today because we’ve all been there before, or many of us are there now. We want to know how to create that balance of work and family.
So, back to the four-burner theory, here’s how Steve explains it.
For this theory, think of the areas of your life as if they are four burners on a stove. You’ve got family, friends, health, and work. The theory says that in order to be successful you need to turn off one burner. To be really successful you’ll turn off two.
When put like this it’s easy to see that It could be difficult to choose which burner to turn off and when. All four areas are important to feeling balanced. Steve explains it’s not necessarily about turning one of them off, instead, we can turn it down to simmer.
I mean, how many times in life do we realize we have all our burners going full tilt most of the time, hence the proverbial climax to burnout?
Becoming a Family First Entrepreneur
Steve didn’t realize it at the time but he turned off the friends and the health burner when he was starting his business. As his business continued to grow he explains that he inadvertently turned off the family burner too, he was in a full burn work mode. This is where the lesson is. Steve learned, to become a family-first entrepreneur he had to balance the burners.
“We can’t have everything going on all at once,” Steve explains, “Becoming a family first entrepreneur is all about just kind of balancing those burners, understanding what the priorities are, and then adjusting things accordingly.”
This conversation was starting to ring some bells. Our collective question as creators and entrepreneurs has always been a resounding “How do I make it work?”.
This topic is something that has echoed through our space here for the last 13 years. So many of us want to know how to make our ambitions work in sync with all the other core areas of our life so we can feel happy and fulfilled.
Losing Track of Your “Why” in Business
Steve and his wife were living and working in Silicon Valley, California. At the time she was a financial analyst at a Fortune 500 company making six figures. When they were starting their family she realized she didn’t want to work anymore, they wanted to create more time to be together as a family. But, how? This all led to them launching their first online store, and it worked.
Like so many of us who are looking for work-life balance, they had a super important why behind their story. Once they knew why they were doing it, they figured out how. But, staying course with the why, that’s a bit harder.
Initially, the goal was to replace one of their incomes and create more time to be together. Steve candidly shares with us what happened when they lost track of the why. After reaching their first financial goal, they set a new one. They met that one too.
Soon, the “why” was replaced with always-rising financial goalposts and they kept on rising and striving to reach the next higher one. This is all at the cost of the reason they got into business in the first place. The work burner was strong, what about the rest?
Things changed when Steve’s wife declared she didn’t want to do it anymore. Instead of turning the work burner off, they adjusted to stay on track with the priorities. They turned it around to re-focus on their original why. They focused on creating a family first business.
Prioritizing Your Time and Energy“There’s a finite amount of time, so you’ve gotta figure out where to spend it.” - Steve Chou Click To Tweet
Most entrepreneurs I know start a business because they want more freedom. They’ve been working too much, too many hours, for all the wrong people, blah blah. You’ve heard it before, right? The paradox is that now they’re working 24/7.
Entrepreneurs are ending up in a prison of their own making with no balance, and arguably worse off than before. Steve explains that he’s very efficient with his time and energy.
Steve dives into why he’s very careful with where he’s showing up online. He focuses on activities that take less energy and get better results. It’s all about leveraging your time.
Running a business, while building a life you love is about maximizing your leveraged time. You want to get the most out of what you’re doing online. It’s not about being on a social platform 24/7 and losing traction if you stop.
Steve gives real examples that show how content connects in a broader sense with people that are online. One piece of content can generate traffic and leads for years. Listen in at 20:00.
As entrepreneurs, we venture into our new businesses or creative ideas bright-eyed, then many of us end up on a wheel that’s hard to get off of.
You Don’t Have To Choose Between Money and Family, There’s A Practical Way To Have Both
Deciding the lifestyle that we want, gives us control over when and how we get on and off the hamster wheel of social media channels.
Now, Steve is running multiple 7-figure businesses in 20 hours a week with lots of time for his family, friends, and leisure. It wasn’t always this way, he shared with us. But that’s what gives his book so much strength and meaning.
Steve’s book The Family First Entrepreneur teaches readers that they never have to choose between money and family again. It’s a practical book that shares the principles that will help us achieve financial freedom without sacrificing what matters most.