Book Review: The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau

100dollarstartupThe $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More by Chris Guillebeau is a book for those who are looking to do what they love, and get paid to do it.

This is an engaging idea for a great many people and so Chris has captured a compelling theme for this intriguing book.  Typically the people that find the book of interest, looking across the comments from the various reviews, are those that have been working in the corporate domain or in a job they don’t really enjoy.  They are now looking for something that makes them feel valuable doing something they like to do.  The core idea being that you can earn a living (in some cases a very good living) doing what you love to do.

Well written and compelling, the book is literally packed with stories and explanations of how people have found themselves looking for an alternative way to earn money and exploited their talents and a particular passion to do so.  In many cases they have done this with very little start-up money and have turned their micro business into a successful alternative to a steady job.

The principles explored in the book are to exploit a passion, earn money through value creation in that field, be creative about how you find your target market and then get them to pay for that value.  In many of the cases that Guillebeau presents, the money making method is simple and clear.  In many others however, there is a lack of detail that is leaves the reader a little frustrated.  But this book isn’t a manual that your follow to leave your corporate job, but more a set of themes that give you the thinking framework around which to find your own solutions.

Some of those themes include:

–       You probably already have the skills you need or they are easily learned from common sources like books or the internet.

–       If you sell a man a fish, you can make money from him every day but if you teach a man to fish, he no longer needs your service.  So build a product or service that engenders a level of dependency and repeat business. Box and sell what is desirable and requires frequent replenishment.

–       You can make money from your passion if it aligns to what enough potential customers want.

–       Keep your business planning short, but take action, get feedback and keep looking at how to improve.

–       Create a killer offer.

–       LAUNCH – you have to take action and get something out there to sell.

–       Take action on a routine basis.

–       Market for free, word of mouth, interesting offers as there is no real need to pay for advertising.  If your business is remarkable, people will remark about it and you.

–       Make small changes and get feedback so you can increase the value you offer, the number of people you offer it to and the money you make from doing it.

–       Remember to build a business that you want to own and run and not one that runs you and ties you down.

The ultimate aim of the your business, Guillebeau argues is to reach the level of personal freedom you want by creating value that customers need using the skills you have (or can learn quickly) and focusing on your passions.

What the book also offers is  a fast review of small business case studies that is almost an mini MBA for the small business owner.  Indeed one of the most interesting and valuable parts of the book for me are the case studies that are explored.  Some are a little shallow in overall analysis, but what they do offer is guidance, advice and encouragement on how it can be done.  You don’t have to have much experience to build a successful small business and this book will help you along that path so for that reason I rate it highly and it will stay in my library and probably be replaced with the next edition.

Dare to Aspire

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