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Entrepreneur and world traveler Chris Guillebeau shows how to start your own business for $100 or less.

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I’m really starting to believe that there truly has never been a better time to start your own business.

Here’s why:
– The bad economy actually helps … you no longer have a blanket of security with your job
– There is a career revolution going on … more people working freelance, more freedom in the workplace, the ability to work remotely
– Tons of support for startups … meetup groups, funding, kickstarter, skillshare, etc
– Everything you need to get started online is either free or cheap … web hosting, email, blogging platforms, photo and video editing programs, etc.

So why haven’t you started your own business?
Or at least a side passion project?
Are you still skeptical?
Maybe you think that’s for OTHER people?

Great question.

You might be able to find the answer in a new book called the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.


In researching the book, he interviewed 1,500 people that fell under the following qualifications for their business, of which about 50 made the final cut for the book.

– Cost $100 or less to start
– Generating at least $50,000 in revenue per year (which happens to be about the average HHI in the US)
– Willing to provide full disclosure of that income
– The business couldn’t require highly specialized skills
– Less than 5 employees
– Drawn from case studies worldwide

Why I love the IDEA (as well as the content) of this book.

First off, I love the concept of this as a book idea. Is there a widely-held belief that it is difficult to start an online business? BAM. Do some research, find a whole bunch of people that HAVE done it, interview them, and then present the case studies along with other valuable information about how they’ve done it.

There, I just gave you your next book idea. Are you passionate about cupcakes? Does everyone you know feel that it’s a passing phase and think you can’t have a successful cupcake business? Go interview the top 50 cupcakes stores in the US and dispel those myths and reveal the key to success.

Same thing for taking good photos, losing weight, learning to speak a foreign language, overcoming asthma, or creating an app for the iPad. Find a bunch of people that have done what you want to do, and figure out how they did it.

Here’s what we’re going to do today. I got to meet Chris in person but he was incredibly busy in the middle of his book tour, so he was nice enough to do an interview over email. I have a few topics around the book I’d like to discuss first. You can see the outline below, or play the podcast to get the full content. Then, we’ll get to his questions.

Thoughts around Chris’ marketing style and books

1. The phenomenon of getting on someone’s radar
a. How did I become aware of Chris?
b. What is the World Domination Summit, and who is speaking there?
c. What is The Art of Nonconformity?
d. My meeting with Chris at SXSW
e. How I became aware of the $100 Startup

2. The power of connecting with an individual
a. What Chris did at the book signing that surprised me
b. How a busy author responds to email
c. The importance of taking time to answer reader questions

3. What all that means
a. Taking a long view of marketing your business
b. Every interaction counts; people remember the small things
c. Build out many touch points
d. Build a strong network

4. The Art of Non-Conformity
a. Set your own rules, live the life you want, and change the world
b. Is there a better alternative to grad school?
— Option 1: $32,000, 40 hour thesis, 3 readers, slight expert recognition, “Good job” from 3 people, diploma
— Option 2: $9/month for hosting, 40 hour manifesto, 100,000 readers, broad expert, thousands of comments, speaking/boo
c. Chris’ amazing goal for World Travel

5. The $100 Startup – take aways
a. The Mattress story
b. Should you really “teach a man to fish?”
c. The “frequent flyer mile guy” story

Jim Interviews Chris Guillebeau about the $100 Startup

Jim Hopkinson: Describe yourself in 3 words

Chris Guillebeau: Persistent, flexible, caffeinated.

JH: “I want to travel more” is at the top of almost everyone’s bucket list, yet the average American spends more time in the bathroom than on vacation. You’re nearly complete with your goal of visiting every country in the world. What’s something the average person can do to break their paralysis and get started?

CG: Just go somewhere. Seriously. It’s easy to let aspirations get out of control to the point of paralysis. Most everyone can conjure up a fantasy vacation, like hiking Kilamanjaro or ten days in the Seychelles, and so they delay travel until the day they’ll take that trip (for which they’re really not planning, anyway).

Meanwhile, taking a quick trip to Canada or Mexico is much more likely to get the ball rolling for prioritizing travel than planning a once-in-a-lifetime getaway that you might never end up taking.

JH: Like you, I’ve seen a very strong trend in people pursuing their passion and discovering a career lifestyle. Do you feel this is truly a new thing, and if so, what has been the main driver of this?

CG:I think that this career “lifestyle” might just be a new iteration of a trade in the way that one’s craft or work used to be an expression of person’s lifestyle and skills. We’ve only been on the assembly line for a century or so—and I think most everyone is sick of it.

Technology, the economy, and of course the personality of the Millennial generation have all converged at just the right time to allow people to begin to do exactly what they’ve been wanting to do for decades. For many of us, that means getting out of the factory and getting back into the world.

JH: Marny from NY Creative Interns was at my Reboot Workshop Conference and donated your new book to us to give away as a prize. When I asked her about it, she said she had an extra because they asked you to donate 20 books, but they were thrilled when 120 showed up. Classic case of under promise, over deliver?

CG:Well, they should have actually received 200. So if they received less, that’s more like underdelivery—which hopefully wasn’t the case!

JH: I’ve been promoting the advantages of launching an online business for years, but people always have their doubts. In your new book, The $100 Startup, you interviewed 1,500 entrepreneurs, each making more than $50,000 a year based on businesses that cost less than $100 to create. Was there a common thread among the people you spoke with?

CG:The case studies were diverse and came from many different backgrounds. What they had in common was an ability to create something useful to the world, not just something that they were personally excited by. In addition, I think it’s fair to say that most of the unexpected entrepreneurs were fairly curious (they wanted to know everything about their topic of interest) and also somewhat persistent (if the first idea didn’t work, they shifted to something else).

JH: Once someone has created an online business, in your experience what has been the best way to market your product and get the word out and drive revenue?

CG:People often underestimate just how much momentum it can take to get attention. It’s important to understand, though, that relentlessness isn’t some major commitment you make to incessantly bug the heck out of people; it’s really more a determination to systematically build relationships and alliances that ultimately work together to create a movement that’s bigger than yourself.

I always recommend you start with people you know. When you think about it, you probably know lots of people. How can they help? Is there a way you can invite them to participate? Then once you have one customer, treat that customer like the most important person in the world. Chances are, they’ll lead you to others—if you do your job right and improve their life.

JH: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you can give to people looking to start their own company?

CG:Think long and hard about what you can make, offer, or provide that other people will value enough to pay for. All successful businesses, no matter how large or small, come from this model. And here’s a bonus: Don’t wait. Every day you wait puts you a day further away from freedom.

JH: I am attending your World Domination Summit in July. What should I expect?

CG: You should expect to have a good time, meet fun people, and be challenged. WDS is centered on the question of “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” Everyone answers that question in their own way, and everyone participates in helping others.

Hopkinson Report Disclosure: I received a free, pre-release copy of the $100 Startup when I saw Chris speak at SXSW, but otherwise was not compensated for this interview in any way. Amazon.com affiliate links used where available.


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