Your Own $100 Startup – Inspiration for Entrepreneurs

$100 Startup

The Formations Company has launched a project to inspired entrepreneurs called #CuratedBookshelf.  We wanted to share our inspiration, and it comes from Chris Guillebeau.

Chris Guillebeau is known for his non-conformist view of the world. So much so that his site, the Art of Non-Conformity, chronicles his quest to visit every country in the world before his 35th birthday (he did), some of his non-conventional businesses, and stories of “world domination.” In the $100 Startup, Chris finds people with real stories of starting a business with very little money.

Who is Chris and Why Should You Care What He Has To Say?

I have been fortunate in my ability to meet superstar bloggers, and have crossed paths with Chris on two occasions. Before getting into his credentials, I have to admit that he is a soft spoken, attentive, and super nice guy. The first time we met, I was invited along for a beer after his first ever book tour stop in Denver. I loved hearing his stories of mission to visit every country in the world and define his own happiness and lifestyle, which he calls ‘World Domination.’

But he has had real business success as well. One of his past businesses involved buying bulk coffee from Jamaica for $10/lb and selling it on eBay for $26/lb. While that business doesn’t exist anymore, you can see how someone can make a living with only a small investment.

What is a $100 Startup?

The $100 Startup is Chris’s most recent book. It is packed with real stories of real people who have made a living with a business they started with only a few thousand dollars or less. These are very real people. In fact, I met one of them at the Denver stop on the $100 Startup book tour.

Some of the stories are about people who were at the right place at the right time, like the guy who happened upon a truckload of deep discount mattresses and started delivering them by bicycle.

Then there was the couple who turned their graphic design skills into a business selling very cool maps and other things online.

Every business featured in the book had made at least $50,000 from their business and stated on a low budget (the mean cost was $610 and the median was $125).

What Does This Book Have?

This book has great stories to inspire you and get you thinking about how you can take a hobby or passion and turn it into income. It is not a get rich quick book. It is not about passive income. It is about making a comfortable living as your own boss.

The book brings forward a few questions that you should always ask yourself before starting a business, and applies those to each example.

The most basic questions are about finding people that will actually buy what you are selling. Chris drills in on some specific ideas that hold people back. He calls out people who spend more time planning and never take action. He helps people understand what makes real money (like actually selling something rather than spending hours and hours on social media), and how to raise your prices.

I found that reading this book before bed wasn’t a great way to fall asleep. Instead, read it with a notepad nearby so you can jot down your own inspiration, thoughts, and plans as you go.

What Is This Book Missing?

While the book does give great stories and advice, it is written with very high level advice. If you want a tactical, step by step guide to starting a business, you should look elsewhere. If you have read every business book ever written, you may find some of this advice obvious or repetitive.

This book is more about inspiration and directional planning than giving you directions to start your own business.

Another Option

Another book that I read from this genre that I found more tactical and specific, if that’s your thing, was the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. In the 4 Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris gives examples of companies you can work with and specific steps you can take to bring a “muse product” to market online using drop shipping and while building a sustainable model that will require as little work as possible in the long run.

My Opinion

I am a Chris Guillebeau fan. I love almost everything he writes. If you are really looking to change your lifestyle, I would first read Chris’s debut book The Art of Non-Conformity. If you are looking for general entrepreneurial advice and great, inspirational stories, the $100 Startup is for you.

Have you read The $100 Startup?  Were you inspired?

About Eric Rosenberg

Eric is a finance blogger at Narrow Bridge Finance and a serial entrepreneur. He runs a media company, flash mob company, and DJ business from his hometown in Denver, Colorado. You can read more about his finance background and connect with him around the web.

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