The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau (Book Summary)

Stop Sitting Out of Your Pants From Nine to Six and Become Your Boss

More and more people are abandoning the traditional employment model with its strict rules and subordination. They do what they love and start their own business. They create microenterprises that allow them to lead a free and meaningful life. This form of employment involves the sole conduct of business.

Creating a microbusiness requires much less than you think. The most ordinary people open their own microenterprises every day, often without a lot of money, experience, an MBA, or even a well-developed business plan.

Example. The two designers who recently graduated from the university came up with the idea of ​​selling high-quality tourist maps of their own production via the Internet. Bottom line: the guys began to earn so much money that after nine months they quit their jobs and completely devoted themselves to new business.

The piano teacher wrote a computer program for attendance accounting, payment control, and scheduling classes. This project has become a full-fledged source of income – more than $ 30,000 per month.

Chris says that nothing prevents you from achieving the same success. You need:

  1. goods (or services) that can be sold;
  2. customers willing to pay for it;
  3. payment mechanism.

Do not be afraid to take action. Own insecurities and fear can create more difficulties than competitors or external market circumstances. Do not give in to these feelings.

Take the plunge.

This book is available as:

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Enthusiasm Alone for a Successful Business is Not Enough; Need More Clients and Related Skills

Many people dream of making money by doing what they like best. But a hobby will never turn into a real business if no one pays for it.

Briefly exists thanks to advertising:

Find the area where your hobbies, skills, and needs of others intersect. Offer customers specific benefits or customer value. Think carefully about how to benefit other people.

Turning a hobby into business directly is difficult. Master the related sphere – help others do what you like.

Example. Inveterate traveler Gary Leff has opened his own business for booking tickets and making routes for people who have accumulated bonus miles and do not know how to find them a reasonable use.

If you do not have enough skills for your chosen field of activity, use the “principle of skill transformation”: you may not have the specific skills needed for this project, but you may have abilities in related areas. Use the available talents to the maximum and simultaneously acquire the missing abilities.

Example. Kat Alder, who worked as a waitress in London, was very good at communicating with people. She founded her own company in the field of PR. The girl had no experience in this area, but her communication skills helped her learn the basics of a new business.

Not every hobby can be turned into a business. You will not be able to earn on a passionate love for pizza. But you can open a pizzeria. Analyze your ability to meet people’s needs using your existing skills.

Identify the Deep Needs of Customers and Develop an Appropriate Proposal.

Your product must have customer benefits.

To do this, you must know who your customers are.

The demographic characteristics of the target audience are not enough: age, gender, income. Find personal features uniting your audience: hobbies, abilities, values.

Will your product be of interest to these people? Get in touch with potential customers and ask them questions. Use informal conversations or questionnaires. Determine if customers are willing to pay for the intended product. You may need to make changes to the product. Run a product advertisement – how many orders will be received? Is this project justified? After such an analysis, start production.

The true wishes of customers may not coincide with those declared.

Example. Passengers have been complaining about cramped airplanes for years. But it costs airlines to offer more spacious seats, but a little more expensive, it becomes clear: people prefer cheaper carriers, albeit in their cabins and closely.

Do not limit yourself to obvious needs, identify unspoken desires.

Example. Newlyweds often tell wedding photographer Kyle Hepp that they do not want to take ordinary wedding pictures. Despite this, she still takes some traditional photographs, knowing that relatives of the bride and groom will be happy to receive them.

Be Creative and Focus on Consumer Benefits.

In marketing activities, focus on the benefits that you are ready to provide customers. In the advertising text, do not focus on boring technical details, but focus on key consumer benefits: how exactly your product can make life easier for people.

Key benefits relate to the emotions you help your customers experience.

Example. California ranchers say: “We do not sell horseback riding. We offer freedom. ” At a yoga school, you really do not sell the exercises, but help relieve stress and relax in a calm, secluded environment.

Act entrepreneurially, minimize advertising costs, be creative in your marketing: establish contacts with journalists, work with other companies, write guest posts for blogs. This is more effective than traditional marketing and many times cheaper.

“Strategic gift” is a powerful non-standard marketing tool. Give your product to the client for free or provide a useful service – he will tell others about your activities.

Example. Unemployed architect John Morfield opened a 5-cent Architectural Consultancy stall on the Seattle agricultural market. He really gave professional advice for a coin, but the clients were so pleased that they often attracted him for additional work already at full rate. John’s story even got on CNN and other news channels, which made him a famous figure and ensured an influx of new customers.

Successful Product Launch Requires Careful Preparation and the Ability to Convince Customers of the Need to Make a Purchase Right Now

For an entrepreneur, there is nothing worse than spending several months developing a product, and then not being able to sell a single copy. To prevent this from happening, carefully plan and prepare for market entry. Product release should be preceded by a powerful advertising campaign in order to properly “warm-up” customers and make them eagerly wait for new items several months before the start of sales.

Before entering the market, form a reliable circle of potential buyers with the help of advertising. Get customers interested long before the actual launch of the product. Warm their impatience by talking about the project you are working on, emphasizing its benefits to them and describing the details of upcoming sales. When the long-awaited launch day comes, make the purchase process as easy as possible.

The launch of the product is a very nervous period for the entrepreneur, and when real sales begin, he experiences extreme relief.

The special price of the product must be strictly limited time. Remind customers of this as the deadline approaches, prompting the doubting customer to make an immediate purchase. As soon as the agreed period expires, keep your word and do not sell the product at a low price.

Business Must Make Money. Do Not Forget About Costs and Income

Business must make money. Otherwise, this is just a hobby.

Think about financing, cost, and income.


It is not necessary to take a loan. Your costs can only be a laptop and a website.

Example. Shelley Vitry opened her own gastronomic business in Denver, having $ 28 of initial capital, and eventually began to earn $ 60 thousand per year.

If you need more money, but you can’t get it at the bank, turn to non-standard methods of fundraising, such as crowdfunding (collective financing).

Example. Shannon Oakey, who dreamed of opening her own publishing house producing books and magazines on needlework, managed to raise $ 10,000 on the Kickstarter website when the bank refused to give her a loan.


Keep costs low. Invest only in what directly affects sales. A luxury website is worth the investment only if you are sure that it will provide an influx of new customers.


Be proactive, do not wait when you have to urgently patch up holes. Take it easy to think about how you see the future of your business and your work with clients. What new products are you working on? How to increase sales? Are there any old problems that need to be addressed? Monitor one or two key indicators (daily sales or average order amount) to keep a finger on the pulse of the business.

Make Regular Payments, Don’t Lower the Price of the Product and Regularly Make Adjustments That Can Significantly Affect Your Profit.

How to make a business as profitable as possible?

You need to establish a regular flow of payments by developing a subscription program. With only 400 subscribers and a monthly subscription of $ 20, you can earn almost $ 100 thousand per year.

In setting the price, one should rely on the proposed consumer advantages, and not on the cost price.

Example. Gary Leff helps customers organize their vacation with bonus miles. He takes a fixed fee of $ 350 for his services, regardless of how long it took him to find information and order tickets: 5 minutes or 5 hours. In any situation, the consumer value is the same.

Feel free to periodically raise prices. Customers often react to the news of the increase much more positively than one would have expected: “It’s time! You are worth a lot more than you ask. ”

Offer customers a limited price range. Do not set a single price – this way you can further maximize profits. An excessive number of options can be confusing, but there are customers who prefer the “premium version”. Offer them an improved version of the base product at a higher price.

Continuously adjust your business for maximum profitability. Pay particular attention to indicators:

  • Site traffic
  • share of customers among total visitors
  • average purchase amount.

These factors have a huge impact on the final profit. Your task is to constantly experiment and make small changes to understand what makes the most profit.

Choose Your Own Business Scale: Remain a Small Entrepreneur or Expand, Expanding Staff

Each entrepreneur has his own business development plans. “One-actor theater”, fantastic growth or something in between – all options are equally acceptable. Ways of business development:

  1. Vertical  – expanding the range of services for existing customers. If you sell software, offer training courses to the same customers.
  2. Horizontal  – the development of new proposals for other categories of consumers. One web designer came to the conclusion that custom-made sites are not affordable for some customers. She developed several standard design templates and offered them at a reasonable fixed price.

As your business grows, you may not be able to handle the entire amount of work alone. The solution is outsourcing, transferring some tasks to third-party performers.

Engage third parties for a wide range of activities: from cleaning in your home office and organizing meetings to directly producing the product. The feasibility of outsourcing depends on the type of business and the identity of the leader. If your business is based on working with clients or you have a mania to control everything, outsourcing will only hurt.

If in the future you plan to sell the business, it is important that your business has the potential for development. It should be accessible for development (so that the buyer could expand the scope of activities, training a dozen new employees, and be of value to consumers (so that the increase in production was balanced by the growth in the number of customers).

Do Not Write Complex Business Plans to Be Able to Focus on Real Actions

Real action always prevails over plans. Do not waste time writing complex plans that are never realized. Make the plan extremely simple: a business plan should fit on one page and only indicate the direction of development of the enterprise.

  • What are you going to sell and to whom?
  • Why do these people want to buy this from you?
  • How will you receive payment?
  • Intended Marketing Activities
  • Basic business indicators

Set a clear start date for the project. This is an additional guarantee of the implementation of the plan.

The mission statement of the enterprise should also be simple and concise. Ideally, no more than the length of the message on Twitter (140 characters). Try to make this wording. This exercise will help you clearly express the true purpose of your business.

Example. “I help business people who monitor their health plan exercise to maintain good health and fitness.”

Beware of unsolicited advice, even if people wish you well. Most of them do not have their own business, so their advice is useless and only distract you from the goal. You do not need anyone’s permission to succeed in business. Trust your own judgment and dare to take a decisive step.

The Most Important Thing

To throw off the shackles of traditional employment and start your own micro-business, it takes much less than you think. Analyze your hobbies and talents to determine in which areas they intersect with customer needs, and get down to business.

When developing your product and organizing marketing events, focus primarily on customer value. As the business grows, you will be able to make certain adjustments to maximize profits.


How to start your own micro business?

  • Stop sitting out of your pants from nine to six and become your boss – it’s easier than it sounds.
  • Enthusiasm alone for a successful business is not enough; we need more clients and relevant skills.
  • Identify the deep-seated needs of customers and develop a proposal.
  • Be creative and focus on consumer benefits.
  • Successful product launch requires careful preparation and the ability to convince customers of the need to make a purchase right now.

How to make micro-business profitable?

  • Business must make money. Do not forget about costs and income.
  • Organize regular payments, do not lower the price of your product and regularly make small adjustments that can significantly affect profits.

What should be the ultimate goal of micro business?

Choose your own business scale: remain a small entrepreneur or expand, expanding staff.

How detailed should a business plan be?

Do not write complex business plans in order to be able to focus on real actions.

Why You Should Read “The $100 Startup”

  • To start a new business with a minimum budget
  • To grow your small business
  • To learn how to turn your passion into a profitable job

This book is available as:

AudiobookeBook | Print

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