I was interested in The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future from the first time I heard Chris Guillebeau speak on a business podcast. He does very unique work: a travel hacker (basically a modern travel agent) and author. And even though it sounds unique, as he explained on the podcast, infact many more are building unconventional businesses under the radar of the media and press than we are aware. So, my curiosity was peaked and I picked up the book intending to read it on my vacation to the Northwest with my wife. Instead found myself halfway through by the time we were leaving and done before the flight had us at our Portland destination.
Must Read for Startup Ideas and Early Validation
$100 Startup is a light read if you’re into ideas and hearing real life stories about how others ‘cracked the code’ of personal business that provided them flexible freedom and value to others. But even more than that, I think it’s a must read for the MBA who lacked small company ‘startup’ training. I am thankful to have added this to my pile of books that complement my large corporation processes and business-jargon training (aka MBA). This book is an excellent successor of Eric Ries, ‘The Lean Startup’ as it communicates the process for finding and succeeding in validating product and service ideas as well as building small business. The interesting thing is starting a small business doesn’t have to mean you are working outside the corporate environment. I am a testimony to this as three of the jobs I’ve had after college have been validating new ideas and direction in a corporate setting. Anyway, back to the book.
There is so much good stuff in this book you need to read it yourself to get all the insights. To start, it takes you from ideas to providing value and finding personal freedom from a schedule or simply limit un-productive practices from your workflow. I’ll give you a few of my favorites.
Tips to Keep in My Tool Kit
- ‘The hard way to start a business is to fumble along, uncertain whether your big idea will resonate with customers. The easy way is to find out what people want and then find a way to give it to them.’ p. 23 Give people what they want and not what they think or you think they want.
- The Decision-Making Matrix helps you evaluate a range of ideas and projects and separate the urgent ones from the not so urgent. p. 86-87
- Chapter 6 discusses the one page business plan and how it’s best for a startup to validate early before investing too much behind the idea. Remember the full business plan competitions in MBA programs? We aren’t pitching to venture capital investors anymore. We’re building it with our sweat and tears.
- The book also addresses tips for product launches and how to increase the newness of the launch over time. It also goes over leverage and how to grow a business at the scale that you prefer. p. 204
A Shift in Thinking and a Vivid Example
This is definitely a shift in mindset from my traditional business training in the world of industrialization and corporate processes. I’m encouraged to continue building my aptitude for this as I have ideas and a desire to prove them. In my own progress to become a better marketer and come up with ideas I’m reminded of the difference between planning and trying to accomplish as opposed to doing nothing new and expecting things to become better. We do the latter in our work and so often in every aspect of our lives. A vivid example I keep being reminded of in our spiritual lives is confession and repentance. We do not simply become sorry for what we’ve done but we turn and do something different. Without the something different we have no true repentance.
So, if you want to make a change in how you create processes for projects that have not yet been validated and need to be jumpstarted first, pick up Chris’ book, The $100 Startup.