The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future [Hardcover] by Chris Guillebeau 



This post is a book review on the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

In early May I was one of the 100 privileged readers of Chris' blog of The Art of Non-Conformity who managed to get a pre-launch free copy of his new book called:

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.

How The Book Started

Chris has travelled more than 185 countries (and he's only in his early 30s as of 2012), and in his book, he says that he has met generally two kinds of people in his life:

The first group is the group of people who are trapped and does nothing about their lives. The second group is those who are very similar to himself, who have the time and money to live the life they want. And what he did was to go out and get more data from the group who is most like him and place this data into a more coherent, understandable and workable manner which is the book here. Though it looks like a simple read, but don't let this book fool you.

I am a big believer of data and numbers, and research and data is more important to me than what I think or feel today. Chris did some solid research, having received more than 1,500 entrepreneur's entries for inclusion in the book, personally vetting them all and then choosing and identifying which were the best fit for the book.

The following inclusion criteria to be included in the book:

  1. They had to make a minimum of USD 50,000.00 per year from their business.

  2. They had to have started on the business on a shoestring budget (note that the average initial investment for the entrepreneurs in the book is $610, and a median of $125)

  3. They must be willing to be very transparent, show-it-all for the numbers and demographics

He then interviewed a couple hundred of people, vetted through more than 4,000 pages of survey information, made a lot of phone calls (think hundreds) to distill and then compile the most critical entrepreneurship and business lessons into a workable blueprint. It doesn't say that it's something that you can install, and "poof" everything falls into place and you earn millions of dollars – like every success, you have got to work it.

An excerpt taken from the introduction of the book, where he describes his goal for the book:

"What if you could achieve your own life of freedom by bypassing everything you thought was a prerequisite? Instead of borrowing money, you just start — right now — without a lot of money. Instead of hiring employees, you begin a project by yourself, based on your specific personal combination of passion and skill. Instead of going to business school (which doesn't actually train people to operate a small business), you save $60,000 in tuition and learn as you go."

I personally have many, many, many very smart individuals who are very talented, capable, solid and shoulda/coulda/woulda entrepreneurs who never took the leap or gave up in the start because of barriers that were not as important. Common reasons include lacking business degrees, lacking capital/funds…but they're not fundamental. Well, yes, if you have more cash and business knowledge, that may be an advantage, but in the book, Chris shows many examples of people and entrepreneurs who started profitable businesses that they love without both business degrees nor lots of money.

How The Book and Blueprint Goes

The book is divided into three large parts:

  1. Unexpected Entrepreneurs – connecting your skills and interests with what other people want and is willing to pay for.

  2. Taking it to the Streets – creating one-page business plans, offers-people-can't-refuse, how to raise capital/funds/money, how to launch, how to hustle (to hustle means to play the game to win)

  3. Leverage and Next Steps - learning about pricing and positioning, creating franchising, growing in line with your personal and business goals, and dealing with failures and mistakes

At every step of the way, Chris uses real-life-examples and actual entrepreneurs that he interviewed personally to highlight each tactic in detail. Here are some of my favorite take away points from my copy:

  • Action wins. "In the battle between planning and action, action wins." Chris isn't saying planning is bad, but there needs to be a balance between planning and action. If you have 10 days to launch a business, take 2 days to plan, 1 day to launch and then to keep hustling from day 4 (my words, this =p). He also provides you with a seven step system to test your market so that you can go ahead and launch.

  • Connect with people on a regular basis. If I may say, it's this that makes the difference in my business. It's easy for me to create articles and send them out, write letters and send them out, create name cards and send them out…but all of them combined, will NEVER beat me going out there to speak with an old or new customer, supplier, lead, whatever. If you're unsure, Chris shares this: spend 50% creating and 50% connecting.

  • Profit is more important than tweeting. It's very to get distracted and bluffed by doing stuff and seeming busy…but focus on what that actually makes you money – real paying customers.

  • Experiment with pricing. This is true. In the book, Chris will tell of an entrepreneur who made more money by charging more, making less sales but actually making more overall revenue. I did this as well, and today, in an hour, I make much, much more than I make on a given week 2 years ago. I work less too. =)

Lastly, the last segment of the book is the super-summary of 25 businesses, what they do, what they offer, and the benefits attached to it. What is nice about this is that I get to see for myself how to position and communicate who I am and what benefits I offer to my clients, and there are 25 examples for me.

The bottom line

Okay, to be honest, if you're very happy where you are in your career, business or finance, or your goal is to create the next Amazon or Google, this book isn't for you. It's for those who are keen on having a microbusiness that they love and have passion for – if that's you, get this, it's for you. This book feels like a light read and as though you've a sincere friend who's a couple of steps ahead of you to show and prompt you.

Buy it from Amazon here.



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