Book Review: The $100 Startup

I have taken more than three weeks to finish The $100 Startup, and it wasn’t because it was a slow read. Author Chris Guillebeau has very neatly stowed a wealth of guidance within it’s pages from his own experiences as well as those of 100 micropreneurs, selected from more than 1,500 initial respondents.

The result peels back the layers of starting a small business on a shoestring, removing the intimidating mystique of “entrepreneurship”. Guillebeau is both frank and genuine in his writing, which when married with practical tools, templates, and a bounty of real-world stories, makes The $100 Startup immensely more empowering than The 4-Hour Workweek.

Guillebeau’s content resulted in many, many “ah hah” ideas quickly scribbled down on post-its throughout the pages, but I was even more excited about how reader-friendly and inspiring the stories are. The $100 Startup is the intro course for our friends who say, “Ya, sure, starting a business is a great opportunity, but it’s just not for me.”

I almost wish “startup” was not in the title. At some point in our evolution into an industrial and then post-industrial economy, we made owning a successful business a god-like act. People think of Zuckerberg when they hear the word startup, rather than the much more common guy in the garage next door or stay-at-home mom with a laptop.

Just a few of the gems from The $100 Startup:

  • On Value: From Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert: “The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of these modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.”
  • On Products: “Focus on blatant admitted pain.” Think dieting, long hours at the office, never having enough time, or waiting 2 years for a phone upgrade. This is the single best criteria for brainstorming and marketing products ever.
  • On Startup Costs: Of the 1,500 initial survey respondents with successful small businesses, the average cost of starting up was $610.60. When the outliers were removed, the average was just $408.

Focus relentlessly on the point of convergence between what you love to do and what other people are willing to pay for.”

If you have even an inkling of creating some income on the side or having a back-up freedom plan in the off chance of being laid off, The $100 Startup is a necessary library addition.

Giveaway! Enter to win The $100 Startup in two easy steps:

1) Become a subscriber if you aren’t already. You can subscribe here.

2) Share your entrepreneurial thoughts on this post.

The subscriber with the most compelling comment by the end of the day on October 11th (one week!) will receive a brand new copy of The $100 Startup!

MST. Contest is limited to addresses in the United States, including APO/FPO addresses with US Zip Codes. [post_ender]

7 Comments
  1. Already have my own business going, but could have really used this book and am looking to build more online income and diversify my customer base. I love the quote from the author – this is exactly what happened for me. Just started a hobby and it turned into income.

  2. I love how you framed this review – I wouldn’t have naturally picked up the $100 startup, and yet I have been the impetus of my kids selling lemonade, mowing lawns, and babysitting all in the hopes of instilling in them a strong work ethic and some entrepreneurial confidence for years. Would love to read this and review the stories with my now teenagers to see what they can come up with!

    1. Thanks, Diana! It never even occurred to me to share the stories with my kids. I think my 9-year-old would actually get a kick out of several of them. Love that you have been planting the seeds early – You’re my new role model mother!

  3. Crazy timing – I just had to return the library’s copy of the 4 Hour Workweek yesterday, only half-read.

    Here are the entrepreneurial ideas that I have been kicking around lately, and nearly all could probably be started for under $100:

    -An app (“Let’s Eat!”) that allows single diners to meet up for a platonic, non-dating meal together. You input the date, time, part of town, restaurant (or type of restaurant) you’d like to meet at; a (hopefully) future buddy responds & you meet, hang out, have some good conversation over food. Public places so safety should be less of a concern. I got this idea when my wife and I went to a buffet, & noticed how many people were eating alone.

    -An app that prevents texts or updates from sports games from showing up on your phone during designated times (when you’ve recorded a game and don’t want to know the score). Algorithm searches for keywords (“touchdown”, “score”, “Steelers”), can block certain contacts from texting/calling for a while (your sports buddies), or can even just turn off all mobile data for a set time.

    -Budgeting/Cost Cutting Consulting: charge hourly rates on a sliding scale to anyone who wants to get costs in their personal budget under control. Meet in person or via Skype. Provide basic budget templates. Advertise over craigslist & blog.

    Anyway, just some ideas. Like with most things in my life, the rub is bringing them to completion.

    1. 4-Hour Workweek certainly is a heavy read! Love your ideas, especially the cost cutter. You could also turn your cost cutting basics or your awesome negotiation series into an ebook. Good luck!

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