Reinventing Your Career and Your Future (on a Budget)

June 13, 2012

I read everything Chris Guillebeau writes, so you’re probably not surprised I tore through his new book, The $100 Startup, as soon as it arrived in the mail. If you’re thinking about launching a side biz or going off on your own full time, this is a book you shouldn’t miss.

Since I’m pretty much living the $100 Startup, the overall idea and approach of this book wasn’t new to me. But because Chris gets into the nitty-gritty details of HOW to make a living by creating your own business, I came away with lots of solid ideas to implement for my own projects. You know I’ve enjoyed a non-fiction read when scribbles take over the margins, and my copy of Chris’ book is now covered in scribbles.

The $100 Startup

I particularly enjoyed all the case studies, tales of people who found creative ways to make money doing what they enjoyed. Especially Purna Duggirala, (pg. 32) who makes Excel spreadsheets sexy. Brilliant!

My only criticism is that sometimes Chris made the DIY route sound too easy. Sure, you can offer something valuable, but people won’t buy until they know about it… and getting people to know about it is often the most difficult part. In a few of his case studies, Chris glazed over that challenge, which left me yelling at the book, “But how did they get people to their website?! How did they have reach?!”

A few takeaways from this inspiring read:

  • Sell happiness. No matter what you’re selling, it’s probably designed to make your customer feel good about themselves in some way. So focus on that — the big-picture benefit — rather than your product’s features. I’ve learned this before, but it’s an important lesson that’s worth studying more than once. (pg. 27)
  • Look for ways to overdeliver to your clients, to give them even more than they expect. One way I do this is with my thank you page for first-time commenters, but now I’m thinking about other ways to overdeliver to buyers of my products, too. (pg. 123)
  • I LOVED the chapter on pricing products. That might sound too specific for your liking, but it’s perfectly applicable for where I’m at with my biz, especially since I’m revving up my product side. Chris suggests offering several tiers of price options for each launch, partly because giving your customers a choice makes the cheapest option sound more appealing. That’s something you can expect to see from me in the future. (pg. 175)
  • You can often charge more than you’d expect. Even if you sell fewer widgets when you increase the price, you could still earn more money. And once something sells well, you should consider increasing the price. This prompted me to consider raising the $24 price of my social media consulting guide, so that could happen soon! (pg. 180)
  • When you work for yourself, your earning potential is unlimited. Sure, you may make less initially than you did when you worked for someone else, and working for yourself requires a huge leap. But if you have the drive and dedication, you also have the potential to far exceed your day job salary. (pg. 46)
  • My favorite graph of the book: “You might expect that certain types of businesses are easier to start with limited funds, and that is correct. It’s also the whole point: Since it’s so much easier to start a microbusiness, why do something different unless or until you know what you’re doing? Small is beautiful, and all things considered, small is often better.” (pg. 169)
  • Great quote from entrepreneur; SO true (and avoidable): “All the bad days have two things in common: You know the right thing to do, but you let somebody talk you out of doing it.” (pg. 233)
  • Finally, Chris acknowledges something I write about a lot on this blog. “In many parts of the world,” he writes,”the starting point is much farther away than it is for most readers of this book.” (pg. 262)

You — yes, you who’s reading this post — have more built-in opportunity than most people on this globe. So RUN WITH IT. Create the life you want to live. Go for that $100 startup. Build what you want to build.

If you want to reinvent your career, now’s the time to do it. (Like this idea? Tweet it!)

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