If you’re the type who wants people to get straight to the point, then here is my 17-word review of The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau’s new book:
You can build a profitable, sustainable business by giving people fish and teaching them how to fish.
And here’s my advice: Buy the book (affiliate link), read it, and get started.
For those of you who like a little more fuss over and seasoning in your dish— sriracha, perhaps—then keep reading.
The prose in The $100 Startup is neither vapid nor flowery. Chris’s years of blogging experience show. He strikes a nice balance between substance and style and moves along at a nice clip. Pacing is important in business books if only because most lack any. Chris makes his point and backs it up with case studies from entrepreneurs around the world and loads of tips, tactics, and strategies for taking business ideas from conception to completion. The motley cast includes a bicycle-delivery mattress salesman, a professional vagabond and language learner, two cartographers, and enough other smart, creative, and subversive characters to populate a dozen Shakespeare plays.
Woven together, their stories offer a well-written, entertaining, and inspiring call-to-action for other artists, entrepreneurs, and would-be business owners: Stop dragging your feet and making excuses. Stop the exhaustive research and planning that are really another form of inertia.
I did plenty of underlining, took notes, called a few friends, and made a commitment in earnest to get started on a new business idea that has been percolating for over a year. I’ve finished some of the writing and begun to reach out to prospective customers.
But the wise counsel and delightful storytelling are not the main reason I’d recommend this book. You can find much of the same business advice elsewhere, online and in other books, which is no slight to Chris but a testimony to the strong principles that he has outlined.
What makes The $100 Startup special is the way it makes you feel.
The book made me feel hopeful. Let me clarify with an analogy: Daylight sometimes fades so gradually that you don’t realize how dark a room has become. You may have started out reading in strong daylight and enjoying yourself. Time passes, nighttime follows dusk, and before long, you’re straining to derive the same amount of pleasure from doing the same thing.
This can happen with any job, even one you create for yourself. What was enjoyable at the beginning becomes a strain. Self-employment can mean trading one boss for a dozen. Maybe you got desperate for money and chose the wrong clients. Maybe you have no timecard to punch and thus you’re never really off the clock. Maybe you’re making more money but have less freedom.
The light dims so slowly that you don’t even notice except that you’re tired, slow to roll out of bed, and grumpy most of the time.
Does any of that sound familiar?
I’ve certainly been there. I have started multiple businesses, and I’m realizing that it’s time to change something and expect different results. It’s time to let some of those “successful” businesses go, to get back to what I most enjoy doing that and what really helps other people, and to build a lives-changing business around that.
Chris, thank you for walking in the room and turning on a lamp. The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades. They’ll have prescription lenses because I’ll be doing a lot more fly fishing in my spare time, and I need to keep my eye on those tiny dry flies. To give people fish, you have to go fishing.
You can buy the book on Amazon (affiliate link).Read More