In The $100 Startup (published in 2012), Chris Guillebeau discusses the challenges of starting and growing a small business, and offers a guide to help overcome these challenges. The book aims to aid would-be entrepreneurs succeed and escape the rat race so they can live life on their own terms. *The $100 Startup *is the result of hundreds of interviews with and surveys from real startups.
SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS
- Advances in technology mean it is now possible to launch and grow a product cheaper and faster than ever.
- It is important to merge passion (and skill) with something that others will value and pay for. However, many follow-your-passion businesses are built on something indirectly related, not the passion or hobby itself.
- Success is highly linked to providing value. A product or service of “value” tends to help people get more of what they want (money, love, attention) or remove things they don’t want (stress, anxiety, debt). Notice that often the underlying reason for these desires is emotional.
- For many businesses (typically online businesses), location is no longer a prime concern. In some cases, becoming completely mobile can be an advantage.
- “A marketable idea doesn’t have to be a big, groundbreaking idea; it just has to provide a solution to a problem or be useful enough that other people are willing to pay for it. Don’t think innovation; think usefulness.” (p.95)
- “[Your product] doesn’t need to be cheaper – competing on price is usually a losing proposition […] Being different isn’t enough: differentiation that makes you *better *is what’s required.” (p.96)
- It may or may not be important to consider “traditional” customer demographics, such as: age, location, gender, ethnicity and income
- Or it may make more sense to consider other ways to group your customers such as:�Interests, passions, skills, beliefs and values.
- Keep costs low at the start – *$100 Startup *frequently stresses that acquiring startup capital is usually not necessary, and definitely not preferable: “You might expect that certain types of businesses are easier to start with limited funds, and that is correct. It’s also the whole point: Since it’s so much easier to start a microbusiness, why do something different unless or until you know what you’re doing?”(p.169)
- Get first sale asap (the book emphasises the need to eliminate procrastination).
- Be able to explain your mission statement in 140 characters
- “Advertising is like sex, only losers pay for it” (p. 147)
- Connect your offer to customer benefits
- What people say they want and what they want are not always the same.
- Create urgency through time-restricted sales.
- Offer reassurance immediately after someone buys something from you
There is a very brief discussion about how to grow a business in order to sell it for a profit late in the book, and it feels more like an afterthought. If you’re looking for a book that teaches you how to grow a business for the specific purpose of selling it on, this is not it.
If, however, you want some practical advice on how to get your act together and start making some money by setting up your own business, this is worth buying. It’s probably also worth mentioning that I had about 5 decent business ideas whilst reading the book – certainly gets the creative juices flowing.