The $100 Startup is the latest offering from the amazing Chris Guillebeau, who runs a fun blog at The Art of Non-conformity, where he writes great manifestos, updates readers on his mission to visit every single country by the time he turns 35 (he has about 10 months to visit the last 10 countries on his list), and sells some nifty e-books to aspiring travel hackers and creative entrepreneurs.
This book is Guillebeau’s second and is a bit more polished than his first, while being equally charming. As expected from the title, the $100 Startup focuses on people who built profitable business with small amounts of startup capital, and now earn at least $50,000 a year. Guillebeau definitely did his research for this one, with detailed anecdotes from successful entrepreneurs were woven seamlessly into key points he was trying to make.
If you have a vague idea and are looking to quit your job and start anew, but really have no idea where to start or what to consider, the book provides a very good primer. You’ll have all sorts of checklists and guidelines to consider (some of which are available for free on 100startup.com), and all sorts of information you likely hadn’t even considered.
The book is a quick and fun read, and covers an incredibly wide range of topics, ranging from location independence to health insurance, from an info product launch to making decisions about everything from outsourcing to choosing between ideas for projects.
The only place where I felt the $100 Startup fell short is that it was so heavy on success stories by successful small businesses where almost identical ideas by equally eager and skilled individuals have fallen flat. Although Guillebeau touches on areas that could lead to less-than-stellar results, and even focused on specific missteps of the successful entrepreneurs he profiled, this may not be the best book for people who make a passable living from their business but want to get to that $50,000+/year level.
On the plus side, Chris Guillebeau’s integrity and generosity really shines through in the book. The $100 Startup is a breath of fresh air if you’re used to reading ones fixated on marketing gimicks; he asks the reader to focus on how you can actually improve people’s lives–not how you can convince them that you are. It is always refreshing to get business advice from someone who actually wants to help people.
Chris’s first book, The Art of Non-conformity, is both useful and thought-provoking, providing both personal anecdotes and helpful suggestions for anyone who’s not satisfied living life in the way everyone says you need to. It is divided into three sections. Part 1, The Remarkable Life, delves into setting one’s own terms for living. This includes fear management and finding ways to “fight authority” without falling into the traps of ineffective sign-holding or getting beat up and arrested for smashing windows and burning down buildings. Part 2, Reclaiming Work, gives various strategies for making one’s way without being permanently stuck in a cubicle doing mind-numbing work that is useless and meaningless. Part 3, The Power of Convergence, discusses finding one’s legacy work and letting go of things which no longer serve you, be they excessive e-mails, clutter in your home or tasks you don’t want or need to be doing.
Unlike other books of its kind, the Art of Non-Conformity features both description and prescription, offering useful suggestions and examples to help pave the way without being preachy. It is refreshingly idealistic without smacking of fantasy. It has an international perspective, and draws on inspiration of many people doing some great work around the world. As a former wage slave turned freelance writer, the Art of Non-Conformity gave me many things to ponder, and I’ve been reflecting on changes I need to make both in my daily activities and long-term vision. I was also left with a list of useful resources and interesting people to look up. An added bonus is some great information on what Guillebeau terms “travel hacking,” which I’m still hoping to tap into so I can travel the world on frequent flyer miles.
Full Disclosure: I did receive a review copy of this book. However, I also purchased several copies on my own, and am not using any affiliate links in this review.