Review: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
First: The $100 Startup is an odd title. Unless your time and computer are worth zero, write the name off to marketing fluff. It costs money and time to get going.
Chris has an enjoyable set of narratives from entrepreneurs who have done what he calls ‘freedom businesses.’ You make money doing what you like and have time for the rest of what life has to offer. That fills up the first part.
Then there’s basically business 101 with an emphasis on virtual products – build-once for low cost, sell a million times for profit, etc. He doesn’t subscribe the Lean Startup terminology, but the ideology is baked in. Nothing earth shatteringly original, but all in all, this is good stuff to know and quick to consume.
Nice to see a section on health insurance. It was only 2 pages long and rather lame. The 39 step product launch checklist was great, and five pages. He has 1 footnote nod to Ferris. Would have been nice to see a section on taxes.
All-in, it’s a decent intro to the world of the DIY careerist.
But there’s a larger point to be made. This approach has been done. We get it, we can live fantastic lives anywhere we want by building stuff online and making $50k a year. We don’t need anymore convincing.
What we do need:
- Tax/family/health/love/children/education strategies for the anywhere/4 hour/$100/ultralight entrepreneur.
- Chris covered the $50k+ successful crowd here. But what about a systematic study of the entrepreneurs who cratered, or worse, shat debt all over themselves?
In terms of an entrepreneurial system, the advantage these low capital intense endeavors have is that they don’t rely on Spanish queens or VCs for funding. The environment has to be amiable – you need to make enough to start, or get that money from somewhere.
So a deeper analysis of what that environment would be exceedingly useful.
For example I want to see my requests above, but not from successful middle-class to upper-class men, but from extracting lessons from slum dwellers where entrepreneurship is standard and everyone you know participates.
In the same vein: What is systematically holding these companies back? How can we build a capital infrastructure that addresses those points? What about new coding technology that makes it dead-simple to launch interesting products (and not spam)?
The list goes on.
Which brings it back to the point of these books. Maybe these are areas I need to explore, solve, and write about, to get my $50k and life in luxury.
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