$100 startup summary-the cure for “I’d like to start a business someday”

The $100 startup is the push you need to know to get started today! I’ll summarize some of the key concepts below.

$100 startup chris guillebeau

What exactly does it take to start a business? If you ask 100 different people that question, you’ll likely get 100 different answers. The $100 startup is different than many “how to start a business” books because it does two things:

  1. It gives you actionable steps to take. They also give examples of others who took those steps and it makes you believe that you can do it too!
  2. It doesn’t leave you with any excuses! No more procrastinating by overplanning and overcomplicating. 

Many business or entrepreneur books are simply motivational fluff. They make you feel good and allow you to envision yourself doing what you should be doing. Where they mainly falter is when it comes time for action.

You’re all pumped up with no direction to go and more than likely you’ll do some research, buy another book and never start that business because of reasons X, Y, and Z. Let me summarize how $100 startup is different.

Three steps to strip away excuses


One of the most impressive things to me about this book is its ability to cut through excuses. It says you only need three things to start a business. 1. Something to sell. 2 someone to buy it. 3. A way to accept payment.
If it sounds too simple it’s not.

Obviously, you’ll eventually need more but if you have those 3 things first almost everything else standing between you and getting started is an excuse! You work on getting those 3 as quickly as possible and THEN you can do all that extra stuff that normally comes with starting a business IF you even need to!

How it helped me launch a business 


In the past, I’ve always worried about the details first until I become so bogged down either I never actually launched. Or I launched many months later only to find I lacked number 2 on the list above: someone to buy it. Ideas, business, and products are all great in our heads but sometimes we need the market to tell us what is wanted or needed.

After reading the $100 startup I was pumped up. I was moving to another state in 3 months but I wanted to start a business, any business, right then. Using (part) of what I learned from the book I was ready for business in less than 2 weeks. The business was picking up parking lot trash for commercial locations for strip malls or other commercial properties. My plan was to get clients and then hire someone to take over the route when I moved while I got a percentage of the pay.

I got out and started knocking on doors of every business I could find that fit my criteria. I learned that they either did it themselves or had a company already doing it for them. No worries I thought, I can do it cheaper and better. I finally got a few clients to agree to hire me but with one caveat, it would have to be the next calendar year!

In the end I didn’t have enough customers to make it worth to try to run it from another state. I only lost time and less than $100, but I had learned some valuable lessons. 1. It’s easy to start a business quickly and with low resources if you cut out the bullshit. 2. I should have done a soft launch before getting my equipment and business cards made up. 

What I could have done better

You can save yourself some headache here and avoid my mistake by doing a market study or a “soft launch” before you commit. I should have gone ahead and done my cold calling door to door first and done the rest once I landed my first client.

Tim Ferriss used a soft launch method before he titled his best-selling book: The 4-Hour Workweek. He ran several different titles as an ad to see what people responded to the best. He would have succeeded eventually anyway. But that book might not have been the launch that propelled him to where he is today. You can do similar type activities before launching a business to test the market. It could save you some time and resources.

That doesn’t mean everything will be an instant success and people will be beating down your door. Keep in mind: Usually, you have to really work hard and stay lean to get a business off the ground. Don’t give up too easily. Mine would have succeeded if I stuck with it and didn’t have to move. Many times you keep your day job or live very low cost until your business succeeds. Mark Cuban started out sleeping on the floor of an apartment he shared with 6 other people while he was launching his company!

p.s. Check it out the 4-hour workweek here on Amazon, it’s too good to miss! (review incoming) 

Providing value first

One lesson I didn’t learn from this book but it’s always good to be reminded of: The first priority of a business, regardless of what business it is, is to provide value to your customer. It’s easy to get off target while coming up with ideas to make money. If the customer doesn’t come first, the product or service will almost always be sub-par or short lived.

Find a way to provide massive value to your target customer, then find a way to make money off of it.

One of the ways you can provide value to people is by saving them time, energy or money aka giving them more of what they like. Another thing you can do to provide value is helping them avoid something they don’t like: pain, headaches, drudgery, body fat etc.


That means whatever it is you are selling you want to focus on the benefits it provides and the emotional thing that it does for a customer. Don’t sell them products by only highlighting features. Sell the benefits of the product or service by highlighting the emotions that it will invoke.


It’s not a 3-carat diamond ring with a lifetime warranty. It’s a symbol of your love and commitment to someone you treasure. It’s showing them and the world that your feelings of adoration are as timeless as the tradition of a diamond ring. This ring shines as bright as the light that they bring into your heart. Show her on the outside what she means to you on the inside. It’s at the heart of advertising but it should also be at the heart of your business.

The main take away from $100 startup

To boil it down the most important thing you can gain from the book is this mindset: You have everything you need to start now. No amount of preparation will ever make you feel “ready”. Leverage your skills, people you know, and resources available to you at this current moment. The book gives great examples of businesses started with nothing. One restaurant cleaning business didn’t even have cleaning equipment and asked for half payment up front from their first client to purchase some, that’s hustle!

If you’ve been sitting on that business idea and not taking action, or if you’re looking for the motivation to find one to start, check out The $100 startup!

If you’re looking for business ideas to start, check out my Big List of Business Ideas to started!

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