Tips for Becoming an Online Entrepreneur: Selling Linens

Today's I Want to Be features Steve Chou.  In 2007, Steve's wife quit her full-time job and opened an online linens store, Bumblebee Linens.  In less than a year, Bumblebee Linens was so successful, Chou's wife had replaced her $100,000 a year salary.  The Chous are parents of two children, a boy and a girl.  In addition to their linens business, they also offer a course, Create a Profitable Online StoreFind out how to connect with Steve at the end of this article.

How long have you had your business?

We launched our online store, Bumblebee Linens, in 2007, so it's been 7 years.  We sell handkerchiefs and linens that specifically cater to the wedding industry.
What led you to pursue it?

When my wife became pregnant with our first child, she desperately wanted to become a stay at home mom.  But the problem was that she made over 100K at her day job, so losing that money would have placed a severe strain on our finances.

While we could have drastically cut back on our expenses and made things work, we decided to start an online business to supplant her lost income.  Starting a business online was ideal because we didn't have to physically be present to take orders and we could ship out packages at our leisure from our home at night.

Ultimately, we came up with the idea to sell wedding handkerchiefs because we saw a void in the market.

Are you full time or part time?  If part-time, do you anticipate switching to full time?

Because we managed to make over 100K in profit with our online store during the first year, my wife was able to quit her job as soon as her maternity leave expired.  Shortly after, I started the blog,, to document our experiences with running our store.  Today, my blog makes well into the 6 figures as well.  And while I still work at my day job, I no longer work for the money, and I can quit at any time.

How do you market your business?

Early on, we used a combination of Google Adwords and good old fashioned legwork.  We contacted event planners and wedding planners who could buy our products in bulk.  We also used forum marketing and content marketing extensively.  

What is your favorite part of the business?

My favorite part of the business is finding new ways to market and grow our sales online.  While I'm not really that interested in the product that we sell, I find the business aspect of running our shop extremely interesting and challenging.

What one question do you get most from people about your business? 

The most common question I get asked is how to get started.  Most people have this misconception that starting an online business is difficult and costs a lot of money.  But in reality, you can start an online store for as little as 5 dollars.  And thanks to open source, all of the shopping cart software is already written for you, and all you have to do is install it.

What advice do you have for others who want to get into a similar opportunity?

The best advice I have to give is to just get started.  Unlike when we first launched our store, there are many services out there that practically do everything for you at a very low cost.  All you have to do is figure out what you want to sell online, and you can be up and running within a matter of hours.

What is the first step? 

I have written a free and comprehensive guide on how to start an online store, which will walk you through the basics of getting started.

In reality, it's not that difficult, and it doesn't cost a lot of money to begin, either.  All you have to do is motivate yourself to get started.

What websites or books do you recommend for tips?

In addition to my blog, I also recommend the Shopify blog and a site called

You can learn more about what Steve and his wife do at their website, Bumblebee Linens, and on Steve's blog, My Wife Quit Her Job.  You can also find Steve on Facebook, and Twitter.

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