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Book Review: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau


I must confess I was a bit skeptical about The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau. First of all I never like a long book title. Second, I started his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity, and didn’t get very far. However, Chris surprised me in this latest book. The $100 Startup has a lot of practical information for micro-businesses and many inspiring stories from successful entrepreneurs.

Most of us have a lot of ideas, but those ideas never see the light of days. The most important step is to take action and begin transforming those ideas into real products and services. Many entrepreneurs in this book started small and grew organically. If the product has a market then you’ll be able to attract customers and generate some income. If your idea is a bust, it’s not the end of the world since the capital investment is small and you can move on to your next idea.

The micro-business idea is very attractive to me. Now that I am a stay at home dad, I won’t have a lot of money or time to invest in big projects. Some of my dream jobs/businesses require a lot of capital and time investment. At this point in my life, I’m not willing to put $50,000 into a business. Preserving capital is job one for our family right now. With that in mind, starting small is the way to go for me. Perhaps when we don’t have to worry about baby RB40 anymore, I can take more financial risks.

The first part of the book went over what make a successful micro-business. The product/service must bring value to customers and many businesses became successful by focusing on helping others. Chris also explained that following your passion doesn’t necessary translate to success. You also need skill and customer demand. This first section clarified many micro-business concepts and it was very useful for me.

The next section went into more details on how to start a micro-business.

  • Write a one page business plan
  • How to launch a product
  • Product/service pricing
  • Focus on making money or else it’s just a hobby
  • Growing your business
  • and more

This section is very useful, but I skimmed some chapters because I don’t have a product yet. It will be a great reference when I finally write that eBook or come up with another product.

All in all, I think this is a great book and every budding entrepreneur should read The $100 Startup.


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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • CF July 20, 2012, 9:22 am

    I’m not too keen on investing a big chunk of money into my own big business either. Most of my strategies involves things that are a little bit more closer to home, like owning/renting out properties.

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 11:22 am

      Owning and renting out properties usually requires a large investment, right?

      • Julie @ Freedom 48 July 22, 2012, 7:25 pm

        Not necessarily! We purchased both of our homes with just 5% down, but we could have purchased our 2nd home for far less if we were willing to take equity out of our first home. If you are willing to use existing equity – you can buy countless homes… with having put only 5% down on the first home.

  • Kathleen @ Frugal Portland July 20, 2012, 9:29 am

    It’s the perfect book for where you are right now, Joe!

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 11:23 am

      That’s what I thought while I was reading it. 🙂

  • DaveL July 20, 2012, 11:35 am

    Im going to have to check out this book. I dont have the capital at this point in my life to invest large amounts of money on an idea but I would like to try this concept. Thanks for mentioning it!

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 11:24 am

      You can see if your library has a copy. It’s a good read.

  • I’ve read so many reviews that I think I am going to have to read this one for myself. Time to go see if the library has a copy…

    • Poor Student July 20, 2012, 1:02 pm

      I am with you on that one, just about every blog I read has reviewed it. Likely because it is so applicable to bloggers and myself.

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 11:24 am

      I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m reading the library’s copy too. 🙂

  • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 11:27 am

    Free? 🙂

  • Buck Inspire July 21, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Nice review. I listened to Chris on a podcast. He sounds like a great guy and very intelligent too. Need to check this out. Just curious, how did your parents take it when you left your job?

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 10:39 pm

      My mom is pretty understanding. My dad doesn’t really agree with it, but he didn’t say much. I guess they are worried, but we’ll see how it goes.

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc July 21, 2012, 1:29 pm

    I’m happy to read your endorsement. I haven’t read this book, but with all of the marketing and mainstream success of this book, I did check out it site. Overall, I became a subscriber due to solid content, so at some point I’ll likely check out the book.

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 10:40 pm

      I like the book. It’s very inspirational and has some good solid tips.

  • Barbara Friedberg July 21, 2012, 6:43 pm

    Sounds like a good read. I read so many of these types of books, that I’m always cautious about whether the authors approach works for others, of just for the one writing the book.

    • retirebyforty July 21, 2012, 10:42 pm

      In this book he talked to over 1,500 successful entrepreneurs so it seems doable. I’m sure for every successful entrepreneurs, there are 100 unsuccessful one, but we have to try right? 🙂

  • Jeff Diercks July 27, 2012, 10:27 am

    These kind of books inspire you to take action, but as a serial entrepreneur be careful to find something as a business that people really want. Otherwise the noise from a competitive marketplace in all marketing channels is really tough to overcome today.

    I look forward to reading the $100 startup soon.

    • retirebyforty July 27, 2012, 11:12 pm

      The book stressed that too. It’s important to give people what they want or else you won’t have many customers.

  • Mark Milotay August 28, 2013, 12:14 pm

    The $100 Startup has sold great because it sells a great concept. Where it falls flat is in taking your ideas through to execution. Chris Guillebeau is likely a natural goal setter and so he can have an idea and his brain sets out the steps he needs to follow. For the rest of us I have written Practical Goal Setting http://bit.ly/14WhqUd

    • Kat June 6, 2014, 11:55 am

      Goal setting is definitely a skill worth building. I have never been great at setting long term goals, but short term goals have also eluded me in the past few years as my health has taken some hits — some of which actually effect my brain and its ability to process and plan. I need to make an effort to get back to working on goal setting. I’ve always surpassed goals that I have written down and tracked throughout a particular time frame, but don’t feel the same forward momentum when I don’t work this way. I’m not sure that it means I’m not making progress, but another great thing about goal setting is the ability to look back and track how much one has accomplished.

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