If you want to step into the world of micro-business or micro-entrepreneurship, then grab Chris Guillebeau’s “The $100 Startup.” The spark of this book is that it focuses on those real-life examples that do not require conventional business skills, knowledge, or expertise. Without understanding any jargon of business, you can establish your own fortune right now.
Chris’s vision is captured in this excerpt:
“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.”
In his visit to sixty-three cities, he came across people who created out of the box businesses. He garnered 1500 respondents and put them into 6 criteria, and wrote the book based on their experiences.
- Followed their passion or hobby and made it a job
- Low startup cost (less than $100)
- At least $50,000 a year in net income
- No special skills
- Full financial disclosure of at least previous two years
- Fewer than five employees (sometimes operated by one person)
The traditional business comprises two models. Either stock market or investment driven. But the third one fits Chris’s interest as it refers to the thought process of “Try this out and see what happens”. These people can turn their passion into a valued property that is desired by people. Chris called it convergence. To do that you do not necessarily require a particular skill set, rather transform your already developed skills. For instance, a teacher knows how to communicate, handle teams of different interest groups, lead a project, etc. A place of passion where you can incorporate these additional skills can lead you to success. This is the magic formula.
The Action Plan
The book is divided into three sections.
- The Unexpected Entrepreneurs
This part is basically what I said in the previous bit. Connecting your passion with people’s needs. Whenever you help people get what they want, you add value. Once you come up with over one idea, you may find yourself baffled with choosing the right one. To solve this, Chris gave a solution. First, make a “Possibilities List” to obtain all the ideas for future implementation. Yes, do not throw the ideas as you can apply those later. Now, to choose one or prioritize one, use the “Decision-making Matrix.” You can present it like this:
Scale them from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. After adding all, you take the highest trend. Then, easily, you can start implementing your ideas one by one.
- Taking it to the Streets
This part is where Chris focused on setting up a mission. Your business plan must be concise and one page. This section also concentrates on killer offers that are based on urgency and meaning. But the crucial part of any business is launching. The best path to launch is mixing up strategy with tactics. Here strategy will answer your “Why” such as story, offer, and long-term plan. Whereas tactics will answer “How” like timing, price, and specific pitch. Chris explained these with his thirty-nine-step product launch to ease your stress. This section also stretches towards effective ways of promoting and finding investment opportunities.
- Leverage and Next Steps
This section is all about growth of your business. Careful choices will expand your business, yet it will not increase your workload. The detail of this action is astounding. How you can incorporate your networking skill, partnerships and recruitment is written explicitly. Chris also shed light on our inertia and self-doubt in this part.
Hands-down, the significant part of the book is the appendix where he scrutinized twenty-five case studies. He demonstrated how those people differentiated fact-based description and emotion-based description. This is difficult to understand and the reason for startup failures.
This book is a product of Chris’s dream of living life by his own rule. The nine-to-five jobs may sound tempting to people who go by the rules. But to some people it is lethal. Also, people think, to start a business you need a lot of money. But this book will challenge that mindset. So, if you are planning to go for a new venture with limited money and knowledge, then read $100 startup ASAP.