Book Review: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

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The $100 Startup by Chris GuillebeauThe book “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future” by Chris Guillebeau is not really a travel book so I thought about reviewing it on my personal blog instead. But Chris’ himself is definitely a traveler and a large part of his story is turning the writing of a blog and of a series of books into a way to support his goal of traveling to every country. I received a free signed copy of Chris’s book when I met him at the TBEX conference in Girona Spain this Fall.

As Chris started to write this book he looked for people who had turned their ideas into businesses with a small initial investment. He talked to over 1,500 individuals that had created a business making at least $50,000 a year with investments around in many cases of $100 of less.

Chris talked to a great variety of entrepreneurs including knowledge workers, coffee shop proprietors, travel planners, event planners, wine importers and at least one person who started a mattress business delivering them on his bicycle. Because of the great variety of companies and individuals don’t think of this book as a step by step how-to book. It is stronger on inspiration and on how to market a big idea.

One of the more practical approaches in the book that I appreciated was a simple ranking system for how to determine which of a series of ideas will best help you meet your individual goals. The book is also filled with practical questions that any entrepreneur should ask themselves like:

  • Does the project produce and obvious product or service?
  • Do you know people who will want to buy it? (Or do you know where to find them?)
  • Do you have a way to get paid?

It is not as if these questions have never been thought of before, but far too many small companies or projects have failed when people have failed to ask them.

The book most easily can be contrasted with the “4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris, which I also enjoyed.

  • The $100 Startup has fewer specific tactics like where to find a product to sell or who to contact as a drop shipper.
  • The $100 Startup is more about finding work (or a project in Chris’s parlance) that matches your passions than how to never work again.
  • Guillebeau has what I might call a stronger morale compass that Ferris. Guillebeau started his travels volunteering and tends to approach his own projects with a “how can I make the world a better place” focus.

I recommend the book for anyone looking at creating something greater, their project.

You can hear more from Chris in his own words on this site as he related the story behind his first big trip in Volunteer Travel to West Africa (Sierra Leone & Liberia) – Amateur Traveler Episode 272

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

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