Book Review: Can Chris Guillbeau’s The $100 Startup find a place in Vancouver? By Jerrie Lynn Morrison
Do you want to start a small business, but feel that you lack the finances and entrepreneurial savvy rampant in a city with the most entrepreneurs per capita in North America?
With a vibrant ecosystem of startups, incubators like GrowLab, startup darlings like TechVibes and Hootsuite, and household names like 1-800-GOT-JUNK originating in Vancouver, it’s easy to get caught up in entrepreneurial fever and lose sight of your own goals, especially if your goal is to be a small but successful one- or two-person business.
Business Basics for the Average Joe
The book isn’t about angel investors, bank loans, and IPOs. It’s a compilation of stories highlighting small but successful business owners and freelancers, interspersed with how-to-start-a-business advice for the everyday dreamer.
Everyone Guillebeau chose to highlight in his book started a business with little to no prior experience, and an average investment of $100 (some a lot less, and some slightly more). The best part is that these small business entrepreneurs now earn at least $50,000/year in net income or more, and many of them earn a lot more!
The $100 Startup is presented in an easily digestible storytelling style. The case studies come across as practical parables that serve as inspiration to anyone thinking of starting a new business. The examples are taken from a broad cross-section of industries, including traditional bricks and mortar businesses like craft stores and cafés, as well as modern consultancies, online services and digital publishing.
Guillebeau was at the Chapters on Robson and Howe on June 21, 2012 to promote his book, The $100 Startup, alongside Danielle Laporte, author of The Fire Starter Session. (Networking in Vancouver writer, Jess Robson, recently reviewed Laporte’s book).
The Hustler, the Charlatan and the Martyr
One key takeaway from the book was the idea of the hustler vs. the charlatan and the martyr. Guillebeau describes the hustler as “style with substance = impact”, as opposed to a charlatan who is “style without substance” (lots of “flash”, all talk and no action), or a martyr who is “substance without style” (“plenty of good work to talk about”, but remains “unknown”). Prior to publishing the book, Guillebeau had written a blog post on hustling.
Hustling is the key to business success, whether you’re an average Joe with a dream in your heart and The $100 Startup in your hand, or a seasoned pro like Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite. Incidentally, Holmes is also a big fan of the hustle.
The Rise of the Micropreneur
Guillbeau’s The $100 Startup is the latest in a string of books during the last two decades that have been written for, or about, the growing trend of people who want to leave traditional employment to join the ranks of self-employed freelancers and small business owners. Others include Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation, Tim Ferris’ The Four-Hour Workweek, Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation, Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class, and Micheal Gerber’s The E-myth. What sets Guillebeau’s book apart is that it comes at a time when internet tools make it easier than ever for someone with little or no experience to start a business on a shoestring budget. “The skills and the money you have are all you need,” writes Guillebeau.
Vancouver has its own share of small and successful entrepreneurs who could easily have been highlighted in Guillebeau’s book. For example, Raised Eyebrow cofounders, and authors of The Boss of You, Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears started their successful web studio with nothing more than their computers in Lauren’s basement apartment. Mears is also one of the producers of the awesome Advancing Women in Business Workshop Series, which included a workshop entitled, Small + Successful: Defining and achieving your entrepreneurial goals for a sustainable business.
There’s no shortage of places to find out about starting a small business in Vancouver. But if you’re new to the game, are overwhelmed with the vast amounts of information available in this city alone, have no formal business training or experience, and have nothing but a dream of someday starting a microbusiness of your own, then The $100 Startup is a good place to begin.
Jerrie Lynn Morrison is a writer and microbusiness enthusiast based in Richmond, B.C.