Guide offers financial path to freedom
Chris Guillebeau wants to help people achieve their dreams, quickly and simply, without having to get a loan from the bank, write a massive business plan or take on a pile of risk.
The author of the $100 Startup: Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love and create a new future has been there; he knows first-hand that it is possible to succeed without all the rigmarole that conventional wisdom about starting a business would have us believe.
As part of this book, Guillebeau interviewed 1,500 people who started successful businesses for a modest investment, in many cases for under $100. He then built a process around that information to help people get started.
“The motivation for the whole book is that it is very actionable and practical,” Guillebeau said recently. “I didn’t want to write another motivational resource, telling everybody to just go for it, without providing some structure.
“That’s why I did the comprehensive study with 1,500 people for a couple of years; just to try and extract what it is all about and then really encourage people to take action without writing a 60-page business plan, without begging for money at the bank.”
It’s OK to write a business plan on a napkin, Guillebeau said. The key, instead, is speed; finding an open hole in the marketplace and moving quickly to fill it.
“What we are trying to do with the $100 start-up model is simplify and say if you want to start a microbusiness you really need three things: you need a product or a service, you need people interested in buying it or paying for it and you need a way to get paid. It’s really all about that. You can make it more complex if you want, but you don’t have to,” he said.
Guillebeau himself started off by paying attention to what others were doing. His first microbusiness venture was selling Jamaican coffee online. From there he built a career as a writer, learning as he went. He now travels the world, working from wherever he happens to be at that moment.
Throughout the book, the case studies Guillebeau profiles are as simple as they are surprising: an individual who developed a business helping people book and get the best value for their frequent flyer tickets that earned him $100,000 a year; a dog walker earning $80,000 and a man who built a business with a truckload of closeout mattresses that he delivered to customers by bike.
The common traits shared by all of the people Guillebeau talked to as part of his study were curiosity, a willingness to ask questions, pay attention and get to market quickly.
“For the most part they were ordinary people. I don’t mean that to disparage them, but I wouldn’t say they are highly courageous, they’re just doing something they love and they have found a way to do that,” he said.
Also, the people who responded to Guillebeau’s project all sought one thing and it wasn’t the million-dollar bank account. Instead, Guillebeau said freedom was a key goal.
“Most people don’t necessarily want the million dollars, but they want to make a good living, determine their own priorities and do something meaningful and that to me what it is about,” he said.
“If you want to have more freedom in your life, or you want to quit your job or you want to have something on the side, it’s very practical.”
The 286-page $100 Startup, published by New York-based Crown Business, is available for $26.95.
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