One of the best ways to gain understanding in your field is to identify the authorities in that field and read their books. Not all experts are truly experts. The ones who are experts will share their secrets and maybe tell you about some of their other in-depth products. The not-experts, those self-proclaimed gurus, will promise the moon and then tell you to buy XXX product if you actually want to learn (which product only serves as a marketing platform for more products ad infinitum).
Chris Guillebeau both promises and delivers useful and relevant information for wanna-be entrepreneurs, the beginning business owner, and even long time business owners can find some useful information. Chris does not rely solely on his own experience but leverages the experiences of hundreds of other entrepreneurs who began their business on a shoestring.
The $100 Startup focuses on ordinary people who chose to follow their passions and began successful businesses. Many of the highlight entrepreneurs were suddenly fired, some took random gambles, and others simply decided never to enter the 9-5 workplace. There is also a range of businesses in the case-studies, from writing and graphic design to home furnishings. All businesses have one thing in common, they began on a severely limited budget and ended up being successful.
What I liked:
Chris gives many examples of how the market is changing and adjusting. No longer is a “target audience” defined by conventional demographics. Instead, one’s target audience is defined by shared interests and concerns.
Another traditional business thought that Chris throws out is that of needing a physical location. Many of the businesses rely solely on the entrepreneurs’ computer and internet connection. One of Chris’ examples is that of a product launch that lasted one train ride, or the product that was launched from an airport. In these cases the business person was a travel-preneur, an entrepreneur whose business facilitates their traveling and can be continued while they are traveling.
Possibly the best chapter is the one that answers the question “what if I fail.” The answer, try again. Technically you didn’t fail, just found one way that it would not work.
Comments and Observations:
Chris presents the information in The $100 Startup in a clear and easy to understand manner. He does not hide the key points or the reality of running a business. Unlike many books I’ve seen, there is little self-promotion and a whole lot of high quality and useful information. I read this book in an afternoon and then turned around and read it again. Each time I read it I found something else I could take away and apply. This is a great book and I would not hesitate to recommend it to new business owners, or old business owners who haven’t learned the lessons that Chris teaches in this book.
One other thing, Chris teaches the business lessons through story. This makes them easy to understand and assimilate, since they bypass the argumentative part of the brain and appeal to the creative. Or it works that way for me, I learn better through story than I do through lecture.
If you ever wanted to be an entrepreneur or have run your own business, this book is an essential missile in your arsenal.