The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Why I like The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

I appreciate books that push my buttons, making me look at things in new and slightly offbeat ways.

The case studies Chris Guillebeau showcases in The $100 Startup are of regular people, mostly in jobs, who unexpectedly found ways to create businesses in unique niches that suited them to a “t.” And that provided really useful products or services to clients who were willing to pay for them.

There’s the story of Michael, a sales professional, who was downsized after years in the same job, Sarah, who created a business because she couldn’t find what she wanted in the stores, and Susannah, whose hobby began generating more income than her day job. All three launched businesses very quickly – with very little startup money.

Michael accidentally became a mattress guru, delivering his products by bicycle. Sarah opened a yarn store that was profitable within half a year and acquired an international following. Susannah taught photography classes for fun… until it paid more than her job as a journalist.

The $100 Startup contains dozens of stories like these, each one motivating and instructive.

Chris Guillebeau researched 1,500 applicants to arrive at the business owners he documents in this book.



Each business owner chosen fulfilled these requirements:

  1. The business owners were following their passion
  2. They had low startup costs (mostly under $100)
  3. Their annual NET income was $50,000 or more a year
  4. No special business skills were required
  5. The business stayed small – under 5 employees

A practical… and motivating business book

The $100 Startup isn’t a “touchy-feely” business book, either. The information is practical and well-researched as much as it is motivational. And it IS motivating. That was proven to me by the business ideas that kept arriving for me as I was reading about other people’s businesses.

Guillebeau provides some excellent “to-do” lists, such as “The 39 Step Product Launch Checklist.” And his “Seven Steps to Instant Market Testing” is very helpful for deciding if you really have an audience that will buy what you’re selling.

The book essentially walks you through the thinking process of launching a micro-business successfully, including how to price products and services.

Make sure you read Chapter 8 on product launches, where he tells the very cool story of how he launched his Empire Building Kit while traveling (and blogging) on Amtrak’s Empire Builder train. The launch earned $100,000 in 24 hours and a legion of fans who followed his story about the train ride.

This is why I read his book The Art of Non-Conformity next and pre-ordered his newest book The Happiness of Pursuit. I like the guy’s style.


The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

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Enriching the world with every business transaction

Guillebeau’s key concepts throughout the book reminded me of Wallace Wattles‘ idea of “enriching the world with every business transaction” by giving more in use value than you receive in cash value for your products and services.

The $100 Startup emphasizes that business owners are really searching for more freedom in their lives and they get it by providing increased value to others. This theme runs through the book and it’s what captivated me… I’m now a Chris Guillebeau fan.



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