The traditional American Dream is broken. The great recession has taught millions of Americans that the traditional path to middle class success is not a sure bet. Job stability is a thing of the past. If you are like many people, you are wondering how to succeed. In this era, self-reliance has never been a more important American trait. You are being forced to chart a new path in an unfriendly global economy. In his book, The $100 Startup, author and successful entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau shows how you can start with almost nothing and build your own dream.
The subtitle of The $100 Startup lays out the plan: “Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.” In the old world, you got an education, landed a good job, worked hard in a series of sequential career positions with companies, bought a house, set aside money for retirement, and retired to your golden years. In a world with global outsourcing, imported contract labor, corporate mergers, layoffs, housing bubbles and busts, the old pattern can be tenuous at best.
In the new world, according to Guillebeau, you first inventory your passions and skills, find the intersection between passion and marketplace demand. Next, you create a unique offering that provides value and meets the needs of people who are willing to pay. Then, you quickly bring it to the market, create a buzz about it, and you sell it. You make a living by creating value for customers. You build your own business and succeed by tuning into the market and making customers happy.
The concepts outlined in The $100 Startup are simple. Chris Guillebeau shows how to think about business, questions to ask yourself, and many examples of entrepreneurs who have harnessed their passions, capitalized on opportunities, and built their own lives. He compellingly makes the case that you can do the same with the skills and passions you already have and a truly minimal amount of money. The book is filled with helpful questionnaires, lists, and templates to help guide you. By starting at the micro-business level, The $100 Startup skips many of the traditional obstacles to starting a business.
Instead of investing lots of capital, The $100 Startup business model shows you how to start on a shoestring by providing information, services, or goods that are produced without large capital investments. The $100 Startup entrepreneurs bypass traditional obstacles to starting a business: the need for large capital investments, bank loans, government loans, partners, and long business planning documents. A business plan according to The $100 Startup is a 1-page document that has just a few essentials. There are just six easy steps to getting started. By working through the Internet, Chris Guillebeau even shows how you don’t have to be fixed in any location. Some entrepreneurs work via the Internet and travel the world.
The book does a great job of showing how to think about a business, get it started quickly, market your offering, and sustain your business. The $100 Startup is about getting in the entrepreneurial mindset and finding a way to create an offering (product or service) of value and sell it the marketplace. It’s about thinking your way through, surviving, and thriving in the challenges presented by the market. Guillebeau writes about realistic challenges in running a business like handling growth and the pros and cons of outsourcing various aspects of your business and employing contractors. If the book has a weakness, it’s a lack of information about drudgery of starting a business. While the book covers health insurance issues, you won’t find any information about the legal requirements, permits, licenses, incorporation, and tax issues in The $100 Startup. Surely these complications exist and must be handled. But, this book is about getting motivated, realizing that you can succeed on your own, and finding the essential intersection between your passions and the demands of customers.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this book. If you’ve been slapped around by the invisible hand of the marketplace, it will show you how to get back into the economy and thrive. If you’re waiting for the government to come to your rescue, it will show you how to stand on your own two feet. If you in a conventional job, but worry about layoffs, The $100 Startup will help you develop a profitable side project. When you stop reading, you’ll wonder if you can sell X, if people will by Y, and whether you can succeed as an entrepreneur. It’s a very powerful thing to realize that you can be an entrepreneur and that it doesn’t take nearly as much money and you think to get started!
The $100 Startup is a wonderful bit of realistic free market insight and can do optimism. Now is just the right time to read it.