Review: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

August 3, 2020

Who is Chris Guillebeau?

Chris Guillebeau is an entrepreneur, writer, and avid world-traveler. He is best known for his blog (and book of the same name), The Art of Non-Conformity. Through several roles in publishing, volunteering abroad, etc. he developed a keen interest in traveling. Soon after, he became committed to making a living on his own terms and is showing others how to do the same in The $100 Startup.

The $100 Startup serves as a template for launching your own business and escaping the normal work setting. Guillebeau believes we can all make a living without committing to a physical location or a traditional 9-5 schedule.

In The $100 Startup, Guillebeau introduces us to dozens of people around the world that have started their own business. Not only have these people decided to reinvent how they make a living, but they also began with little money up-front. In some cases, through ingenuity and resourcefulness, they were able to launch their business with no money at all!

In our review of The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, we will show the principles that prove you can make a living doing what you love. Additionally, you can start a business with little to no money to start. If you’re willing to take action, the steps outlined in this book can help you create a new future for yourself.

Review of What You’ll Learn In The $100 Startup?

Identify what you can already offer

Begin by identifying the skills or passions you already have. When deciding between them, focus on convergence. Guillebeau defines convergence as:

“…represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both) and what other people are also interested in.”

Guillebeau, page 14

While not all of your passions will interest people, find one that is useful to others, and it can mean your path to freedom.

Connecting what you love to what others want

Continuing on the topic of convergence, once you identify a passion, you must develop a skill that others will value. Guillebeau offers the following formula: 

(passion+skill) > (problem + marketplace) = opportunity.

“ Many follow-your-passion businesses are built on something indirectly related, not the passion or hobby itself. When considering an opportunity, ask: “Where is the business model?””

Guillebeau, page 54

The diminishing importance of location

While there are thousands of people who operate a business while traveling, this is easier to do once your business is established.

“There are many roads to location independence, but the business of information publishing is especially profitable. (And there’s more than one path to information publishing; it isn’t just about e-books.)”

Guillebeau, page 71

The one-page business plan

Guillebeau includes a great template for a one-page business plan. Some of the prompts on it include:

  • What will you sell?
  • Who will you sell it to?
  • What problem(s) does your product/service solve?
  • How will customers hear about it?
  • How will you solve XYZ obstacles?
  • When is the deadline?

Focus on getting your first sale quickly.

Creating a 140-character or less mission statement (to make things simple).

“…respond to the changing needs of your customers but launch your business as soon as possible, with a bias towards action.”

Guillebeau, page 106

The crucial steps before your first launch

Guillebeau provides a great template titled The Thirty-Nine-Step Product Launch Checklist.

“A good launch is like a Hollywood movie. You first hear about it far in advance, then you hear more about it before the debut, then you watch as crowds of people anxiously queue up for the opening.”

Guillebeau, page 145

Self-Promotion

The One-Page Promotion Plan.

Be flexible with requests when you’re first getting started.

“If you build it, they might come…but you’ll probably need to let them know what you’ve built and how to get there.”

Guillebeau, page 161

Small ways to increase your income

There are ways to grow your new business without dramatically increasing work or overhead costs.

Horizontal (broader) and Vertical (deeper) expansion.

“Easy growth options include adding a service to a product-based business (or vice versa), or deploying a creative series of up-sells and cross-sells, and making a few key tweaks.”

Guillebeau, page 201

Cloning yourself

The One-Page Partnership Agreement.

Leverage.

“By leveraging skills and contacts, you can be in more than one place at the same time. Strategies to do this include outsourcing, affiliate recruitment, and partnerships.”

Guillebeau, page 227

Final Verdict: 9.2/10

My favorite thing about The $100 Startup is that it’s full of action items and clear examples. Also, I love the use of templates and prompts that can help the reader create their own tailored documents. By providing these templates, Guillebeau makes it very simple to follow his steps!

Additionally, I love the emphasis on taking action that Guillebeau displays throughout the book. One key principle that I consistently see in works on entrepreneurship is the importance of taking action. It seems obvious but many simply do not take the leap of faith or do the due diligence necessary. The $100 Startup makes this point clear and encourages you to prioritize action over analysis/perfection.

It is often said that opportunity/success goes to those who take action. Well, The $100 Startup is a blueprint for the steps you can take to start that next side hustle or business you’ve been dreaming of. Just get started!

You can purchase his book on Amazon here.

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2 comments on “Review: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

  1. Man this is guy is great! He really makes book reviews enjoyable. Definitely going to keep an eye out for these.