Chris Guillebeau is the author of the $100 Startup (and The Art of Non-Conformity) (Flickr photo via)
Would you ever have imagined you’d make a living selling mattresses by bicycle?
What about hand crafted Jewish wedding contracts?
Or provide garbage pick up service to a local community in South Africa?
Well people just like you and me have done it and their stories have been profiled in Chris Guillebeau’s latest book, “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.”
The case studies are inspirational, the templates that Chris provides are handy for any would-be micropreneur and the sections on marketing and launching are invaluable gems.
If there’s one book I think everyone should read, this is one of them.
Download this mp4 video of Review of the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.
The Four Things You’ll Love About the $100 Startup
The things that you’d like about the book revolve around the action plan templates, stories of the different kinds of businesses and the important lessons that Chris shares with you.
The Template Action Plans
The best templates that stuck out in my mind were the one page business plan and the marketing promotion plan.
Of course there were other ones like being a publisher, a launch checklist and market testing.
All of them would be useful to you if you’re considering how to launch your own business idea.
What you’ll love most about these step by step action plans is that they’re one pagers – they’re short and too the point.
They’re not big on extra fluff.
I still help people with business planning and I can seriously say that if you make use of the one page business plan format provided by Chris and friends then you’ll be off to a great start.
In fact I’ll be integrating that as part of my consulting business – it’s better than the current one page planning template I have.
These templates are available from the $100 Startup web site in downloadable PDF form too.
Ladies and gents, what really inspires you are the detailed stories of the entrepreneurs that Chris interviewed during the writing of his book.
It’s nothing about crazy high powered tech entrepreneurs.
You’re looking at everyday people who decided to make the leap to part time or full time micropreneur with all the trials and tribulations.
Many of the entrepreneurs Chris looked at were in various industries.
In the Rockstars of the $100 Startup appendix section you’ll see dozens of entrepreneurs from furniture, to independent publishers to bag manufacturers to food advice to coffee shops.
The list goes on and on.
Many only started with a few hundred dollars (somewhere around $500-600) so the title is perhaps a bit off however you get the idea: it doesn’t cost a fortune to start a business anymore.
No you don’t have to rent a big warehouse if you don’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong – you’ll definitely read that every one of these people worked harder than ever to get to the successful state they’re currently in.
Some even started when they were in dire straits like being laid off, fired or worse.
Ultimately, it came down to having a unique spin on what you provide and having either the skill or the passion to make it work.
What you get from the stories boils down to: find something people really want and sometimes it’s going to take some experimentation.
The Hustler Who Has the Goods
The idea of being a hustler was one of those things that I read about over and over.
And in this case, Chris did give it a new spin.
You’re either a charlatan or a martyr, which relates to all talk or all action.
You can do all the hard work and be a martyr yet no one will know about you.
Of course if you’re a charlatan you’re all con man talk with nothing real to show for it.
A micropreneur/entrepreneur has to learn to hit the middle – the hustler, the best of both worlds.
It’s that or you team up with someone who’s better than you at talk or action.
It’s been one of the toughest things for me to act on consistently and it takes a lot of practice to reach the right level.
Hit the Ground Running
Another good point that is hammered home with all the stories in the book is action.
Taking action that is.
If you’re too scared to take action then you’ll never have options – you’ll always be waiting for someone else to do the deciding for you.
You’re also going to have to accept that nothing’s certain, you’re going to make mistakes and you will fail at some things.
You just have to keep going or try a different tack.
The Things That Weren’t as Thrilling?
To be honest there wasn’t all that much in the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau that wouldn’t thrill you.
Sure the drawings were somewhat kiddy like for the book though it is a friendly tone kind of setup so that could be forgiven.
It might have been interesting for Chris to provide some details like apps, programs or services to use that would benefit a micropreneur.
Though to be fair, Chris does provide the referrals when it makes sense to.
In a way I prefer Josh’s decision matrix for that reason.
What Could Have Been Improved?
I was kind of hoping for more examples of entrepreneurs in other non-Western countries even though they are the hardest ones to study.
There were only a handful of examples.
One was the rickshaw driver and the other was the garbage collection startup in Africa.
In addition it felt like there weren’t that many ethnic micro-preneur examples either (in North America or abroad).
Had there been more examples of ethnic micro-preneurs that would have been a good morale booster.
There was also a lot of talk about financials however the reader had no access to the details.
Chris primarily summarized the most important results and in a way that’s understandable.
I did wonder if there could have been actual template models for the different kind of micro-businesses that Chris talked about.
Even something a bit more detailed then the plans he provided in the book.
Something more tailored for various types of businesses that someone might want to start.
Again it’s wishful thinking.
It’s obvious that a lot of these businesses took very different paths.
What Have I Taken Away from the Book?
I made use of the one page business plan to better re-define my various businesses and started thinking about how to put Chris’ one page marketing plan into the daily routine.
The template helps.
Getting it into the routine is the tough part.
I’m also taking inspiration and motivation towards telling a better story and trying to find the people who I’m actually solving a problem for.
Chris’ book has provided a refreshing new take on how to view the micropreneur freelance path in my eyes.
The book is clearly best suited for people who are trying to get entrepreneurial however even the experienced ones can benefit from the small nuggets of wisdom throughout the book and Chris’ research.
It’ll very likely trigger some new insights.
Overall, Chris’ book provides an amazing set of templates for the beginning micropreneur, lots of inspiring stories of others who have succeeded and a pathway for marketing and launching that anyone can get behind from day one.
To be honest there was little that one could find fault with.
If you’re looking to find a way out of the typical 9-to-5 or who wants their freedom and security back in uncertain times then the $100 Startup is a must read book.
After all, the job culture of old is gone – everyone’s a contractor or on borrowed time.
You might as well start putting your eggs into a basket you give a damned about.
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