A Book Review of The $100 Startup

Recently, a friend mentioned that her daughter wanted to start a business (a restaurant) with her. 

I suggested that it would cost a lot less (and be safer) to start an internet business or a local business which only required an online presence–maybe catering for example.

My friend asked what resources I would suggest.

The single best resource, I think, is the book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future * by Chris Guillebeau 2012. It has all the information a person needs to get started on their internet business.  And the big advantage is you won’t get drowned in information, which can happen if you start researching internet business on the internet.

Chris’s advice is based on his own successful projects and on research from other successful internet business people. Every bit of advice in the book is followed or preceded by clear, easy to take action checklists.

Because the book is so clear, it is a very fast read. And that fact supports his most important message: Get started now and get started fast.

The first set of questions to ask are: How can I help? What can I do to add value and to serve people? What do people want?

The way to answer those questions is to ask people (in your target market):

  1. What is your biggest problem with ______ ?
  2. What is the number one question [or pain or problem] do you have about ______ ?
  3. What can I do to help you with _______ ?

And once you good answers to the above questions, you are ready to ask and answer the second set of questions

The second set of questions that any new business has to answer are:

  1. Does the project produce an obvious product or service?
  2. Do you know people who will want to buy it?
  3. Do you have a way to get paid for your product or service?

You must have clear definite actionable answers to each of these three questions. Until you have a clear answer to all three questions, you should not proceed.

Once you do have a clear answer to those first two sets of questions, you need to ask and have definite answers to the third set of questions:

  1. How much money (for Google Adwords, for example) or it’s equivalent (your time writing blog posts or building your community, or making and publicizing your YouTube videos) does it cost to acquire a new customer? 
  2. How much money do you receive for each initial sale?
  3. Is the money from your initial sale sufficient to cover the cost of acquiring that customer, the cost of producing the product or service, and a sufficient profit to justify your effort?

Once you have a solid product or service idea, Chris recommends market testing before building. This is to make sure that there are people willing to buy your product or service before you go to the time and expense of building it.

Chris’s Seven Steps to Instant Market Testing are:

  1. You need to care about the problem you are addressing. And there need to be a lot of other people (your target market) who care about the problem.
  2. Is the market big enough? Use Google to find out market size (Google keywords and the Google Ad Planner). Figure out what keywords you would use to search for your product. Look at the ads for those keywords (no or few ads could be a warning sign).
  3. Make sure your product eliminates “blatant admitted pain”. Don’t try to convince them that they have a problem. Instead have a solution to a problem they already know they have.
  4. Make sure that people understand how your product or service helps to eliminate pain or to meets a need (status, respect, health).
  5. Communicate that your product or service is a better solution than any others available.
  6. Ask people in your target market about your product or service.
  7. Create an outline of what your product or service will do and show it to members of your target audience to get their feedback.

Chris gives an example of a person who marketed his product (to determine if there was any demand) before he made the product. He reports that a friend advertised (for about $300) his high end information product (which would cost $900) before he had actually created it. He got two orders and then went ahead and created it (making a $1500 profit). If you’re not comfortable marketing before manufacturing, you can use the Seven Steps to Instant Market Testing.

And once you have your product or service ready to go, Chris gives you an outstanding “Thirty-Nine Step Product Launch Checklist”. This simple four page checklist alone is worth the price of admission.

So get Chris’s book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future* and get started on your internet business today.

*Please note that this link is an affiliate link to Amazon. If you decide to purchase the book through this link, our site will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. 

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