The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup

Author – Chris Guillebeau
Escape from Cubicle Nation – Pamela Slim
How to get a Real Education at College – Scott Adams
Influence – Robert Cialdini
The Referral Engine – John Jantsch
Built to Sell – John Warrillow

People succeed because of the value they've created.
The more you understand how your skills and knowledge can be useful to others, the more your odds of success will go up.

Convergence → represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both) and what other people are also interested in.

Skill Transformation → realize that you’re probably good at more than one thing.

Many projects were started by people with related skills, not necessarily the skill most used in the project.

The Magic Formula
Passion or skill + usefulness = success

The basics of starting a business:

  1. Product or service: what you sell
  2. people wiling to pay for it: your customers
  3. A way to get paid: how you’ll exchange a product or service for money
    →You just need a product/service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid.

Offer →a combination of product or service plus the messaging that makes a case to potential buyers.

It helps to craft a launch event to get buyers excited ahead of time.

Mission Statement

  1. Give people what they really want. Give them the fish.
  2. Sell emotional benefits(“be a cowboy”) instead of descriptive features(“ride horses”)
  3. Evoke a passionate response.
  4. ex: :”Your brand is more than a website. We’ll help you tell a story that communicates your core mission.”
Key Points
  • Value means “helping people”.
  • Our unexpected entrepreneurs discovered that when they focused on providing value above all else, their businesses were successful.
  • Give people what they really want, not just what you think they should have. Give them the fish.
  • The more you can market a core benefit instead of a list of features, the easier it will be to profit from your idea. Core benefits usually relate to emotional needs, more physical needs.
  • Most people want more of some things (money, love, attention) and less of other things (stress, anxiety, debt). Always focus on what you can add or take away to improve someone’s life, and then prepare to get paid.

Get paid to do what you love by making sure it connects to what other people want.

Opening for business
I will help clients ——-.
After hiring me, they will receive (core benefit + secondary benefit).
I will charge $xxx per hour or a flat rate of —— per service.
This rate is fair to the client and me.

My basic website will contain these elements:
a. The core benefit that I provide for clients and what qualifies me to provide it(remember that qualifications may have nothing to do with education or certifications; sometimes doing it yourself enough times warrants as expertise)
b. At least two stories of how others have been helped by the service (if you don’t have paying clients yet, do the work for free with someone you know)
c. Pricing details (always be up front about fees; never make potential clients write or call to find out how much something costs)
d. How to hire me immediately(this should be very easy)
I will find clients through (word of mouth, Google, blogging, flyers, etc.)
I will have my first client on or before ——(short deadline).

You must focus continually on how your project can help other people, and why they’ll care about what you’re offering in the first place.

You usually don’t get paid for your hobby itself; you get paid for helping other people pursue the hobby or for something indirectly related to it.

Reality Check Checklist
Questions for you
Instead of just during your free time, would you enjoy pursuing your hobby at least twenty hours a week?
Do you enjoy teaching others to practice the same hobby?
Do you like the ins and outs(all the details) of your hobby?
If you had to do a fair amount of administrative work related to your hobby, would you still enjoy it?
Questions for the marketplace
Have other people asked for your help?
Are enough other people willing to pay to gain or otherwise benefit from your expertise?
Are there other businesses serving this market (usually a good thing) but not in the same way you would?

✏Case study
"I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The 'Dilbert' comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That's how value is created." - Scott Adams

(passion + skill) → (problem + marketplace) = opportunity

Key Points
  • Good businesses provide solutions to problems:
  • “What do I do with all these extra frequent flyer miles?”
  • “How can I easily learn a new language?”
  • Many follow-your-passion businesses are built on something indirectly related, not the passion or hobby itself. When considering an opportunity, ask: “Where is the business model?”
  • Not every passion or hobby is worth building into a business, and not everyone will want to have a business that is based on a passion or hobby.
  • You can establish a specialized consulting business in one day-the more specific, the better.
✏Case study

Music Teacher’s Helper, an interface that Brandon created for personal use before turning it into a one-stop platform for music teachers of all kinds. The teachers could create their ownwebsitess (without having any technical skills) and handle all aspects of scheduling and billing.

✏Case study

Bernard Vukas helps companies that use Microsoft Office applications to process large amounts of data, creating or modifying extensions that make the data easier to manage.

✏Case study

Brett Kelly: As a power user of Evernote, he noticed that there was no detailed user manual for people to get the most out of the service. Brett spent months carefully documenting every tip and trick he could find about Evernote, compiling everything with detailed screenshots and tutorials into a big PDF file.

Become your own publisher

How to enter the information publishing business:

  1. Find a topic that people will pay to learn about. It helps if you are an expert in the topic, but if not, that’s what research is for.
  2. Capture the information in one of three ways:
    a. Write it down.
    b. Record audio or video.
    c. Produce some combination of a and b.
  3. Combine your materials into a product: an e-book or digital package that can be downloaded by buyers.
  4. Create an offer. What exactly are you selling, and why should people take action on it.
  5. Decide on a fair, value-based price for your offer.
  6. Find a way to get paid. PayPal is the most ubiquitous method, with the ability to accept payment from users in more than 180 countries.
  7. Publish the offer and get the word out.
  8. Cash in and head to the beach.
Key Points
  • Roaming entrepreneurs are everywhere these days. Many of them are quietly building significant(six figures or higher) businesses while living in paradise.
  • Just as not every passion leads to a good business model, a lot of people pursue the nomadic lifestyle for the wrong reasons. The best question to answer is: What do you want to do?
  • There are many roads to location independence, but the business of information publishing is especially profitable.(And there’s more than one path to information publishing; it isn’t just about e-books.)
  • Everything relates to the lessons that began in the beginning: Find the convergence between what you love and what other people are willing to buy. Remember that you’re probably good at more than one thing, and combine passion and usefulness to build a real business-no matter where you end up living.

“Business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another one coming.” – Richard Branson

Traditional Demographics: age, location, sex, race, income
New Demographics: interests, passions, skills, beliefs, values

Sell what people buy (and ask them if you’re not sure)

  • What is your biggest problem with —-?
  • What is the number one question you have about —-?
  • What can I do to help you with —-?

Old school marketing → persuasion
New marketing → invitation

Email Feedback Template:

Here are a few projects I’m thinking about working on during the next few months, but I could be totally wrong. Please let me know what you think of each idea.
Idea 1
Idea 2
Idea 3

It’s good to keep surveys less than ten questions or so. To get more overall responses, ask fewer questions. To get more detailed responses but from fewer people, ask more questions.

What should you do when you have more ideas than time to pursue them?

  1. Make sure you’re capturing all the ideas and writing them down, since you might want them later.
  2. Find a way to evaluate competing ideas.

Most basic questions of any successful micro-business:

  • Does the project produce an obvious product or service?
  • Do you know people who will want to buy it (or do you know where to find them)?
  • Do you have a way to get paid?

Impact: Overall, how much of an impact will this project make on your business and customers?
Effort: How much time and work will it take to create the project? (In this case, a lower score indicates more effort, so choose 1 for a project that requires a tone of work and 5 for a project that requires almost no work.)
Profitability: Relative to the other ideas, how much money will the project bring in?
Vision: How close of a fit is this project with your overall mission and vision?

Key Points
  • Who are your people? You don’t necessarily have to think of them in categories such as age, race, and gender. Instead, you can think of them in terms of shared beliefs and values.
  • You can often follow a fad, craze, or trend by establishing yourself as an authority and simplifying something about the process for others hoping to benefit from it.
  • Use surveys to understand customers and prospects. The more specific, the better. Ask: “What is the number one thing I can do for you?”
  • Use the decision-making matrix to evaluate multiple ideas against one another. You don’t have to choose only one idea, but the exercise can help you decide what to pursue next.
  • If your mission statement is much longer than this sentence, it could be too long.
    “We help our clients xyz” → evoke a powerful, emotional connection.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter F. Drucker

✏Case study

Jen Adrion and Omar Noory graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design. They both began freelancing as designers. Based in a tiny apartment, they were making ends meet and working jobs related to their degrees, but just one year after graduation, the feeling of burnout from the world of commercial design was inescapable.
They were talking about their upcoming trip to New York and a plan that they hoped would lead to other travels. When they got home, they looked around for a nice map to help chart their upcoming adventures.
Long story short, they couldn’t find one that they loved, so they decided to make their own. They stayed up late at night, working on their ideal map while talking about all the pleas they hoped to visit. When they finished the design, there was just one problem: The printer they wanted to use had a minimum order of fifty units for a cost of $500. It was a lot to spend when they only needed one map, but the project had come to mean more than just a print, so they bought the order.
Omar asked a crazy question: Would anyone want to buy the remaining prints?
They made a one-page website, added a PayPal button, and went to bed. The morning after making their work available for purchase, they woke up to their first sale. Then they made another sale, and then another. Thanks to a surprise mention on a popular design forum, they sold out of their first print run in ten minutes and had tons of messages begging for a reprint.
They introduced more styles such as a New York City subway map or a neighborhood-themed map of San Francisco.
Nine months in, both of them had quit their day jobs to work full-time on the business. “This project has totally restored our passion for design. It feels so liberating to have creative control. It’s been an incredible opportunity for us to grow as designers. I feel like our work has progressed more in the past year than it ever has.”
Jen and Omar began with an idea, kept costs low, and didn’t wait long before stepping forward with a product. Then they adapted to the marketplace response (make more maps.) and built each new product carefully.

Select a marketable idea

  • doesn’t have to be a big, groundbreaking idea.
  • it just has to provide a solution to a problem or be useful enough that other people are willing to pay for it.
  • don’t think innovation; think usefulness.
7 steps of instant market testing
  1. You need to care about the problem you are going to solve, and there has to be a sizable number of other people who also care. Always remember the lesson of convergence: the way your idea intersects with what other people value.
  2. Make sure the market is big enough. Test the size by checking the number and relevancy of Google keywords-the same keywords you would use if you were trying to find your product. Think about keywords that people would use to find a solution to a problem. If you were looking for your own product online but didn’t know it existed, what keywords would you search for? Pay attention to the top and right sides of the results pages, where the ads are displayed.
  3. Focus on eliminated blatant admitted pain. The product needs to solve a problem that causes pain that the market knows it has. It’s easier to sell to someone who knows they have a problem and are convinced they need a solution than it is to persuade someone that they have a problem that needs solving.
  4. Almost everything that is being sold is for either a deep pain or a deep desire. For example, people buy luxury items for respect and luxury, but on a deeper level they want to be loved. Having something that removes pain may be more effective than realizing a desire. You need to show people how you can help remove or reduce pain.
  5. Always think in terms of solutions. Make sure your solution is different and better. (Note that it doesn’t have to be cheaper-competing on price is usually a losing proposition). Is the market frustrated with the current solution? Being different isn’t enough; differentiation that makes you better is what’s required. There’s no point in introducing something if the market is already satisfied with the Solution-your solution must be different or better. It’s significance, not size, that matters.
  6. Ask others about the idea but make sure the people you ask are your potential target market. Others may provide insignificant data and are therefore biased and uninformed. Therefore, create a persona: the one person who would benefit the most from your idea. Examine your whole network-community, friends, family, social networks-and ask yourself if any of these people match your persona. Take your idea to this person and discuss it with him or her in detail. This will get you much more relevant data than talking to just anyone.
  7. Create an online for what you are doing and show it to a subgroup of your community. Ask them to test it for free in return for feedback and confidentiality. As a bonus, the subgroup feels involved and will act as evangelists. Giving builds trust and value, and also gives you an opportunity to offer the whole solution. Use a blog to build authority and expertise on a subject. Leave comments on blogs where your target audience hangs out.

In the battle between planning and action, action wins. Action plans:
a. Keep costs low. → By investing sweat equity instead of money in your project, you’ll avoid going into debt and minimize the impact of failure if it doesn’t work out.
b. Get the first sales as soon as possible. → The first time you make a sale in a new business, no matter the amount, it’s a very big deal. | For the project to be successful, you need to get it started.
c. Market before manufacturing. → It’s good to know if people want what you have to offer before you put a lot of work into making it. Surveys are one way.
d. Respond to initial results. → After an initial success, regroup and decide what needs to be done next. | It’s good to pay attention to what created the initial success, even if it seems accidental or coincidental.

✏Case study

A friend of mine did this with an information product aimed at the high-end car industry. He offered a specialty guide that sold for
900,excepthedidn′tactuallycreateitbeforeheadvertiseditinamagazine.Heknewitwouldbealotofworktoputtogethertheguide,sowhydotheworkifnoonewantedit?Partlytohissurprise,hereceivedtwoorders.Thecostoftheadwasjust300, so that represented a $1500 profit if he could actually create the guide.
He replied to the two buyers that he was developing a new and improved “2.0 version” of the guide and would love to send it to them at no additional charge as long as they could wait thirty days for it to be finished.
Of course, he offered to refund their money if they didn’t want to wait, but both buyers chose to wait for the 2.0 version.
He then spent the next month frantically writing the guide before sending it to the eagerly waiting customers.
Since he knew he had a success on his hands (and it helped that he actually had a product now), he placed another ad and sold ten more over the next few months.
Maybe you won’t do it that way, but make sure there is sufficient demand for your product or service before spending your whole life working on it.

Freely receive, freely give.

✏Case study

In Tel Aviv, Israel, Daniel Nissimyan founded a paintball distributor called Matix Ltd. “We sell extreme sports equipment to enthusiasts in Israel and neighboring countries, and also to the Israeli defense establishment for training purposes.”
Despite the sudden appearance of a number of competitors that sprang up in response to the growth of paintball in Israel, business was good. Matix Ltd. was clearing six figures in income and had sewn up exclusivity contracts with key suppliers, thus thwarting the new competitors.

The 140-character mission statement

Think of the first two characteristics of any business: a product/service and the group of people who pay for it. Put the two together, and you’ve got a mission statement:

  • We provide (product/service) for (customers).
  • We help (customers) do/achieve/other verb (primary benefit).


  • “I walk dogs” ↔ “I help buy owners feel at ease about their dogs when they’re not able to be with them.”
  • I sell knitted hat patterns ↔ I help people be creative by making a hat for themselves or someone close to them.
  • I make custom wedding stationery ↔ I help couples feel special about their big day by providing them with amazing invitations.
    What is the 140 character(or less) mission statement of your business idea?
Key Points
  • “Plan as you go” to respond to the changing needs of your customers but launch your business as soon as possible, with a bias toward action.
  • The first sale provides far more motivation than the actual amount. As soon as possible, find a way to get your first sale.
  • Follow the 7 seven steps to instant market testing (or the market before manufacturing method) to gauge the initial response.
  • Use the One-Page Business Plan to outline your business ideas quickly.
  • To avoid overcomplicating things, explain your business with a 140-character mission statement.
✏Case study

Scott McMurren’s day job was in media sales, where he knocked on doors around town, recruiting advertisers for the station.
His idea was to create coupon books for independent travels coming to Alaska. Alaska is a nice place during the summer, but costs are always high.
The coupon book would be an antidote to high prices, but it would have to provide real value instead of offering the typical, minor discounts available elsewhere.
Since Scott already had the state contacts through his day job in media sales, all he had to do was get them to commit to a discounted offer.
You might think he would price the books low to sell as many as possible, but he had a better idea: price the books at $99.95 and make the value proposition extremely clear.
It was the ultimate follow your passion business, combined with a perfect transfer of skills from a job to a micro-business. Scott had the insider knowledge about the local travel industry, along with a way to leverage the deals to ensure they were all high value.

Create an offer you can’t refuse.

  1. Understand that what we want and what we say we want are not always the same thing.
    A good offer has to be what people actually want and are willing to pay for.
  2. Most of us like to buy, but we don’t usually like to be sold.
    Compelling offers often create an illusion that a purchase is an invitation, not a pitch.
  3. Provide a nudge.
    Create instant urgency; that the offer could be withdrawn at any time.
Offer Construction Project

Magic formula: The Right Audience, The Right Promise, The Right Time = Offer you can’t Refuse
What are you selling?
How much does it cost?
Who will take immediate action on this offer?
The primary benefit is —-.
An important secondary benefit is —-.
What are the main objections to this offer?(3)
How will you counter these objections?(3)
Why should someone buy this now?
What can I add to make this offer even more compelling?

The Inefficient business model
(market inefficiency = business opportunity)
Whenever something is more complicated than it should be or any time you spot an inefficiency in the market, you can also find a good business idea.
You can also derive a powerful business model from traditional systems that lack transparency.

The way we make purchasing decisions isn’t always rational.
The way we put a value on something isn’t always rational. You must learn to think about value the way your customers do, not necessarily the way you would like them to.

FAQ Page
  • the additional purpose of a FAQ is to provide reassurance to potential buyers and overcome objections.
  • identify the main objections your buyers will have when considering your offer and carefully respond to them in advance.
  • How do I know this really works?
  • I don’t know if this is a good investment(or I’m not sure I have the money to spare.)
  • I’m not sure I can trust you with my money.
  • What do other people think about this offer?
  • I wonder if I can find this information/get this product/service without paying.
  • I worry about sharing my information online(or another privacy concern).
  • This really works because—-.
  • This is a great investment because—(alternatively, you don’t have to trust us with your money, because we work with an established, trusted third party—-)
  • Other people think this is great, and here’s what they say —-.
  • You have to pay to get this product/service(alternatively, the free versions aren’t as good, it takes a lot of work to get it on your own etc.)
  • Your information and privacy are 100 percent secure because —-.
    The point is not to be defensive but rather to be proactive in responding to concerns.

Rough Offer Awesome Format

  1. This thing is so awesome (primary benefit)
  2. Seriously, it’s really awesome (secondary benefit)
  3. By the way, you don’t need to worry about anything(response to concerns)
  4. See, it’s really awesome What are you waiting for? (take action)
Overdeliver. The small things count.
Key Points
  • As much as possible, connect your offer to the direct benefits customers will receive. Like the Alaska coupon books, a compelling offer pays for itself by making a clear value proposition.
  • What people want and what they say they want are not always the same thing; your job is to figure out the difference.
  • When developing an offer, think carefully about the objections and then respond to them in advance.
  • Provide a nudge to customers by getting them to make a decision. The difference between a good offer and great offer is urgency (also known as timeliness): Why should people act now?
  • Offer reassurance and acknowledgement immediately after someone buys something or hires you. Then find a small but meaningful way to go above and beyond their expectations.

Without an active prelaunch campaign, the movie may be great but the odds of commercial success are far lower. -> The same principle hold true for micro-businesses.

Planned launch campaign
  1. An early look at the future.
    In the first mention of your upcoming launch, you don’t want to give all the details away; it’s usually better to start with a heads-up.
    “Hey, I’m working on something interesting. It’s going to be a big deal when it’s finished, but for now I’m just letting you know that it’s coming down the line.”
  2. Why this project will matter.
    The most important early message about the launch (and one that has to be reinforced continually) is why your prospects and customers should care.
    “This is why this project will be a game changer, here’s how people will benefit, and here’s why you should care.”
  3. The plan for the big debut.
    Roll out some of the details for the launch itself.
    When will it be? How will it work? Will there be some kind of bonus for early buyers?
    Most important, what do people need to know at this time?
  4. Whoa, we’re almost ready.
    “This is the calm before the storm. We’re coming down to the wire and are really excited about this.”
    Any last-minute reminders or launch details are included here, and the goal is to convert anticipation into an actual decision.
    “It’s finally here, everyone has been waiting, and now we’re ready to go.”

Something always goes wrong in every launch.

As with everything else in life, it’s important to keep your word with launches.

If you admit to a flaw, weakness, or limitation in your product, this will probably help instead of harm you.
-> If a product developer personally tells us it’s not perfect-“and here’s why”-we tend to trust him or her more.

If you’re getting positive feedback from people who don’t buy your product but want to support you in other ways, you’re on the right track.

39 Step Product Launch Checklist

Ensure that your product or service has a clear value proposition.

  1. What do customers receive when exchanging money for your offer?
  2. Decide on bonuses, incentives, or rewards for early buyers. How will they be rewarded for taking action?
  3. Have you made the launch fun somehow? (Remember to think about non-buyers as well as buyers. If people don’t want to buy, will they still enjoy hearing or reading about the launch?)
  4. If your launch is online, have you recorded a video or audio message to complement the written copy?
  5. Have you built anticipation into the launch? Are prospects excited?
  6. Have you built urgency—not the false kind but a real reason for timeliness—into the launch?
  7. Publish the time and date of the launch in advance (if it’s online, some people will be camped out on the site an hour before, hitting the refresh button every few minutes).
  8. Proofread all sales materials multiple times … and get someone else to review them as well.
  9. Check all Web links in your shopping cart or payment processor, and then double-check them from a different computer with a different browser.
    This is super important! USP means “unique selling proposition” and refers to the one thing that distinguishes your offering from all others. Why should people pay attention to what you are selling? You must answer this question well.
  10. If this is an online product, is it properly set up in your shopping cart or with PayPal?
  11. Test every step of the order process repeatedly. Whenever you change any variable (price, order components, text, etc.), test it again.
  12. Have you registered all the domains associated with your product? (Domains are cheap; you might as well get the .com, .net, .org, and any very similar name if available.)
  13. Are all files uploaded and in the right place?
  14. Review the order page carefully for errors or easy-to-make improvements. Print it out and share it with several friends for review, including a couple of people who don’t know anything about your business.
  15. Read important communications (launch message, order page, sales page) out loud. You’ll probably notice a mistake or a poorly phrased sentence you missed while reading it in your head.
  16. Have you or your designer created any custom graphics for the offer, including any needed ads for affiliates or partners?
  17. Set a clear monetary goal for the launch. How many sales do you want to see, and how much net income? (In other words, what will success look like?)
  18. Advise the merchant account or bank of incoming funds.*
  19. Create a backup plan for incoming funds if necessary (get an additional merchant account, plan to switch all payments to PayPal, etc.).
  20. Can you add another payment option for anyone who has trouble placing an order?
  21. For a high-priced product, can you offer a payment plan? (Note: It’s common to offer a slight discount for customers paying in full. This serves as an incentive for customers who prefer to pay all at once while providing an alternative for those who need to pay over time.)
     Merchant accounts are paranoid about large sums of money arriving in a short period of time. If you don’t give them a heads-up, you might run into problems.
  22. Clear as much email as possible in addition to any other online tasks so you can focus on the big day tomorrow.
  23. Write a strong launch message to your lists of readers, customers, and/or affiliates.
  24. Prepare a blog post and any needed social media posts (if applicable).
  25. Set two alarm clocks to ensure that you’re wide awake and available at least one hour before the scheduled launch.
  26. Schedule your launch time to suit your audience, not you. All things being equal, it’s usually best to launch early in the morning, East Coast time.
  27. Soft launch at least ten minutes early to make sure everything is working. It’s better for you to find the problems than to have your customers find them!
  28. Write the first three to five buyers to say thanks and ask, “Did everything go OK in the order process?” (Side benefit: These buyers are probably your biggest fans anyway, so they’ll appreciate the personal check-in.)
  29. As long as it’s possible, send a quick personal note to every buyer in addition to the automated thank-you that goes out. (If it’s not possible every time, do it as often as you can.)
  30. Most important: Ask for help spreading the word. Many readers, prospects, and acquaintances will help by telling their friends and followers, but you have to ask them.
  31. Write to affiliates with a reminder about the new offering.
  32. Write to journalists or media contacts, if appropriate.
  33. Post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social networks you already participate in. (It’s not usually a good idea to join a new network just to promote something.)
  34. Write the general thank-you message that all buyers will receive when purchasing.
  35. If applicable, write the first message for your email follow-up series that buyers will receive.
  36. Outline additional content for future communication and plan to schedule it after you recover from the launch.
  37. How can you overdeliver and surprise your customers with this product? Can you include additional deliverables or some kind of unadvertised benefit?
  38. Is there anything special you can do to thank your customers? (For a high-price launch, send postcards to each buyer; for something extra, call a few of your customers on the phone.)
  39. Don’t forget to celebrate. It’s a big day that you’ve worked up to for a long time. Go out to your favorite restaurant, have a glass of wine, buy something you’ve had your eye on for a while, or otherwise do something as a personal reward. You’ve earned it.
  40. Start thinking about the next launch. What can you build on from this one? What did you learn that can help you create something even better next time?

Remember, many customers will support you for life as long as you keep providing them with great value.

Always return to the all-important value question: How can I help people more?

Key Points
  • A good launch is like a Hollywood movie: You first hear about it far in advance, then you hear more about it before the debut, then you watch as crowds anxiously queue up for the opening.
  • A good launch blends strategy with tactics. Strategy refers to “why” questions such as story, offer, and long-term plan. Tactics refers to “how” questions such as timing, price, and the pitch.
  • A series of regular communications with prospects before the launch will help you recreate the Hollywood experience with an audience of any size.
  • Tell a good story and be sure to consider the question of timeliness: Why should people care about your offer now?
  • Use the 39 Step Product Launch Checklist as a model. Not every step may apply to you, and you may want to add steps of your own.

“Good things happen to those who hustle.”

Being willing to promote in an authentic, non-sleazy manner is a core attribute of micro-business success.

Feedback email

Hi (name),
I wanted to quickly let you know about a new project I’m working on.
It’s called (project/business name). We hope to (big goal, improvement, or idea).
Don’t worry, I haven’t added you to any lists and I won’t be spamming you, but if you like the idea and would like to help out, here’s what you can do:

  • action point 1
  • action point 2
    Thanks again for you time.

Freely give, and freely receive: It works. The more you focus your business on providing a valuable service and helping people, the more your business will grow.

Genuinely caring and trying to improve someone else’s life whenever you can.

The One-Page Promotion Plan

Goal: To actively and effectively recruit new prospects to your business without getting overwhelmed.
Maintain a regular social media presence without getting sidetracked or overwhelmed. Post one to three helpful items, respond to questions, and touch base with anyone who needs help.
Monitor one or two key metrics (no more!). Read more about this in Chapter 13.
Ask for help or joint promotions from colleagues and make sure you are being helpful to them as well.
Maintain regular communication with prospects and customers.
Connect with existing customers to make sure they are happy. (Ask: “Is there anything else I can do for you?”)
Prepare for an upcoming event, contest, or product launch
Perform your own business audit (see Chapter 12) to find missing opportunities that can be turned into active projects.
Ensure that you are regularly working toward building something significant, not just reacting to things as they appear.

When you’re thinking about how to get the word out and build your business, think about hustling first and paid advertising later(if at all).

Key Points
  • If you’re not sure where to spend your business development time, spend 50 percent on creating and 50 percent on connecting.
  • The most powerful channel for getting the word out usually starts with people you already know.
  • If you build it, they might come… but you’ll probably need to let them know what you’ve built and how to get there.
  • When you’re first getting started, say yes to every reasonable request. Become more selective (consider the “hell yeah” test) as you become more established.
  • Use the One-Page Promotion Plan to maintain a regular schedule as you also spend time building other parts of your business.
✏Case study

Naomi Dunford was a teenage mother and high-school dropout.
Without sharing her background with potential customers, Naomi opened a consulting company called IttyBiz. Later she would add products, courses, and referrals to to other professionals, but she started with a single consluting service: the service of brainstorming.
Over the course of an hour and for an initial fee of 250,shewouldevaluatemarketingideasandprovidefeedbackonwaystoimprovethem.Nothingmore,nothingless.Asshesharpenedhermessageandconnectedwithmorepeople,thebusinessgrew.Naomipublishedashortvideoexplainighowshehadearnedalomst200,000 so far. This came as a big surprise to the onlie world, because Naomi wasn’t a KOL.
One of the things Naomi does well is continously remind her clients the need for acutally making money.

Putting the focus on income and cash flow-measuring everything else against those standards-ensures that a business remains healthy.

Spend as little money as possible and make as much money as you can.

Spend only on things that have a direct relationship to sales.
✏Case study

Chelly Vitry started a business as a tour guide for Denver food lovers, connecting them to restaurants and food producers. Startup costs:
28.Recentannualincome:60,000.Michael Trainer started a media production company for 2,500,thecostofanicecamera,whichhelatersoldtorecoupthecostinfull.
HethenwentontoworkwithtwoNobelPrizewinners:theAcumenfundandtheCarterCenter.TaraGentilestartedhersmallpublishingbusinessfor80, hoping to earn enough money to be able to stay home with her daughter.
One year later, she earned enough money (75,000)thatherhusbandcouldstayhomeaswell.ChrisDunphyandCherieVeArdstartedTechnomadia,asoftwareconsultancyforhealth−careproviders,for125. The business now produces net income of more than 75,000asChrisandCherietraveltheworld.
AformerstoredesignerforStarbucks,CharliePabstneededa 3,500 computer for his Seattle design business. But after he had the powerful machine and a 100businesslicense,hewasgoodtogo.Annualincome:justunder100,000.

It's usually much more important to focus your efforts on making money as soon as possible than on borrowing startup capital.
  1. Price your product/service in relation to the benefit it provides, not the cost of producing it.
  2. Offer customers a limited range of prices.
  3. Get paid more than once for the same thing.

Base prices on Benefits not Costs
Just as you should usually place more emphasis on the benefits of your offering than on the features, you should think about basing the price of your offer on the benefit-not the actual cost or the amount of time it takes to create, manufacture, or fulfill what you are selling.
In fact, the wrong way to decide on pricing is to think about how much time it took to make it or how much your time is “worth”.
How much your time is worth is a completely subjective matter.

Very few businesses succeed on price cutthroat strategy; competing on value is so much better.

How will this idea improve my customers’ lives, and what is that improvement worth to them?
Then set your price accordingly, while still being clear that the offer is a great value.

Offer a (Limited) Range of Prices
To create optimum profitability or at least to build more cushion into your business model, you’ll want to present more than one price for your offer.

Instead of asking clients whether they'd like to buy your widget, you're asking which widget they would like to buy.

Get Paid More than Once

  • continuity program
  • membership site
  • subscriptions

Experimenting with price is one of the easiest ways to create higher profits(and sustainability) in a business.
If you’re not sure what price to use for something, try a higher one without changing anything else and see what happens.

Key Points
  • There’s nothing wrong with having a hobby, but if you’re operating a business, the primary goal is to make money.
  • Going into debt to start a business is completely optional. Every day, people open and operate successful ventures without any kind of outside investment or borrowing.
  • The average business can improve its odds of success greatly by getting paid in more than one way and at more than one time. You can do this with a variety of methods.
  • Whether it’s money, access to help, or anything else, you probably have more than you think. How can you get creative about finding what you need?

“Growing the business wasn’t nearly as hard as starting the business.”

If you grow your traffic a little and also increase your conversion rate a little while also increasing the average sales price a little … your business grows a lot.

Business improvement tweaking
  1. Create a hall of fame.
    “social proof”: let your best customers tell their own stories about how they’ve been helped through your business.
  2. Institute a new deal.
    the confirmation page that appears after an online purchase is one of the best and most underused places for an upsell offer.
    Right after a customer purchased, they are highly inclined to purchase something else.
    Make a strong offer here, and your conversion rate can be 30% or higher.
  3. Encourage referrals.
    “can you send our offer to three of your friends?” or
    “can you like our page on FB?”
    the confirmation page after a purchase is a good place to do this, in addition to a mailing sent a few days later.
  4. Hold a contest.
    Find a way to give away a prize and invite people to compete.
    You may not make a ton of sales from a contest, but it will bring you more attention and a greater audience for future sales.
  5. Introduce the most powerful guarantee you can think of.
    Zappos famously created a free shipping both ways to take away the hesitation about buying shoes without trying them on. A host of competitors had to follow suit.
  6. Alternatively, make a big deal about offering no guarantee.
    This strategy usually works better for high-end products. It will likely decrease overall sales but increase the commitment level from those who do purchase.
    Ironically, people who pay for high-end products tend to be better customers all around.
    People who buy the lower-priced version of something generates a much higher rate of customer service issues than those who buy the higher-end version.

Add a new revenue source quickly by creating a service from a product-based business or create a product from a service-based business.

If you have a product business ask yourself: “My product is x… how can I teach customers about y?”

“Hey, my service costs a lot of money because everything is customized. But if you just need a general solution, you can get this version for much less.”
Some customers will still want the customized solution.

Raise prices regularly
->The most common advice was to maintain a practice of regular rate increase so that it becomes normal and expected.
->No one expects the price of milk to be the same from year to year. We all know that over time it's going to go up, and the same should be true for the prices we charge clients.
An annual date for changing prices such as January 1.

Remember to price on the basis of value, not time or costs.

Key Points
  • “Moving on up” by increasing income in an existing business is usually easier than initially starting the business.
  • By making careful choices, you can often grow the business without dramatically increasing the workload, allowing you to scale without hiring more people.
  • Easy growth options include adding a service to a product-based business(or vice versa), deploying a creative series of upsells and cross-sells, and making a few key tweaks.
  • Horizontal expansion involves going broader by serving more customers with different (usually related) interests; vertical expansion involves going deeper by serving the same customers with different levels of need.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” – Jay-Z

✏Case study

Natalie Lussier was an up-and-coming software engineer. Originally from Quebec, she had interned in Silicon Valley and now she had the chance to take a big job on Wall Street.
After relocating to Toronto, the idea was to build a small business helping other people make the adjustment to raw foods. Being a software engineer, Nathalie programmed a database, set up an app, and built her own website.
She rebranded the whole business around her as a witch at some point. She created programs, one-time products, and individual consultation sessions.
Raw Foods Witch grew into a $60,000 business after the first year.
The second business came about unexpectedly after Nathalie began getting tech inquiries from her raw foods clients who were also creating businesses.
She decided to create a separate brand for tech consulting operating under her own name.

Nathalie found a way to reach two different audiences: a core group and a related group. As a business grows and the business owner begins itching for new projects, she essentially has two options for self-made franchising:

  1. Reach more people with the same message. -> In this model, the hub is your main website: often an e-commerce site where something is sold, but it could also be a blog, community forum, etc. The hub is a home base with all the content curated by you or your team and ultimately where you hope to drive new visitors, prospects, and customers.
  2. Reach different people with a new message.

One path to franchising yourself is to team up with a trusted partner.
-> The easiest and most common way to partner with someone is to create a joint venture.

  • How will the money be divided? (50-50, 60-40, 45-45+10)
  • What are the responsibilities of each partner?
  • What kind of information is shared between partners?
  • How will the project be jointly marketed?
  • How long will our agreement be in place?
  • How often will we touch base to discuss the partnership?
One-Page Partnership Agreement

Many people report doing business for large amounts of money on a long-term basis without any contracts at all. Remember that the relationship is the most important part; choosing to keep it strong and trusting is more important than having the right clauses and legal language.
partners: A and B.
These partners agree to collaborate in good faith on a mutually beneficial project known as (project name).
Overview: (summary of project, including outcomes and expected results)
Revenue Sharing: Net income for the project will be split on the basis of (percentage) percent to A and (percentage) percent to B. All minor costs associated with the project will be deducted prior to calculating net income. If any particular cost exceeds (amount), both partners must approve the decision.
Life of Revenue-Sharing Agreement: The revenue-sharing agreement will last for (period of time), at the end of which the partners will decide if it should be continued, discontinued, or revised.
Publication and Sale: The project will be offered for sale on (websites and any other sources).
Customer Support: A will be responsible for (duties). B will be responsible for (duties). Project feedback from customers will be shared between both parties.

In a business that relies on a series of relatively mindless, repetitive tasks, for example, outsourcing may be a good option.
A business that relies on customer relationships, however, may not be a good fit.

Business Audit

“Where do you make your money?”

  • Look at where the money comes from and determine what you can do to keep it coming.
  • It’s almost always better to devote your efforts to the strong performers than to try and pull up the weak ones.
    “How good is your messaging?”
  • Go back to the beginning and read the copy carefully.
    “Are your prices what they should be?”
  • Raise your prices on a regular basis.
  • Are people buying what you sell? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track. If it’s a no, you have a problem.
    “How are you marketing to existing customers?”
  • Reach out to existing customers and find a way to meet more of their needs.
    “Are you tracking, monitoring, or testing enough?”
  • The thing about testing is that you just don’t know what’s going to happen until you do it. That’s why you test.
    “Where are the big missing opportunities?”
  • It’s good to know what you’re missing even if you’re missing it deliberately. Keep your possibilities list updated so you can follow up when you have more time or if you need more money.

“For years I’ve paid a 51 percent commission to affiliates in my business under the principle that they should earn more than I do for promoting my work. At he same time, I make it clear that they’ll need to do more than just slap up a link somewhere.
If they want to be successful, they’ll need to create a closer connection between their readers and my business. They can do that by using the products themselves, writing reviews, and offering some kind of bonus to the referrals they make. If you structure your affiliate program in a similar manner, you’ll attract higher-quality partners.”

Key Points
  • By leveraging skills and contacts, you can be in more than one place at the same time. Strategies to do this include outsourcing, affiliate recruitment, and partnerships.
  • Use the hub-and-spoke model of maintaining one online home base while using other outposts to diversify yourself.
  • When it comes to outsourcing, decide for yourself what’s best. The decision will probably come down to two things: the kind of business you’re building and your personality.
  • Carefully chosen partnerships can create leverage; just make sure that’s what you want to do.

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Find a way to build systemization into the business, and deciding what role the business will play in the rest of your life is a huge mental shift.

“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.”

Focus on working on your business as opposed to in it.

Every morning, set aside 45 minutes without internet access. Devote this time exclusively to activities that improve your business-nothing that merely maintains the business. Think forward motion. What can you do to keep things moving ahead?
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. This is work that grows the business. What new products or services are in the works? Are there any partnerships or joint ventures you’re pursuing?
OFFER DEVELOPMENT. This kind of work involves using existing resources in a new way. Can you create a sale, launch event, or new offer to generate attention and income?
FIXING LONG-STANDING PROBLEMS. In every business, there are problems that creep up that you learn to work around instead of addressing directly. Instead of perpetually ignoring these issues, use your non-firefighting time to deal with the root of the problem.
PRICING REVIEW. You should review your prices regularly to determine whether a price increase is in order. In addition, consider adding appropriate upsells, cross-sells, or other income-generating tools to your arsenal.
CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION. This involves not just dealing with emails or general inquiries, but initiating communication through newsletters and updates.
A key rule for all these activities is to initiate, not respond. Doing this for just forty-five minutes a day can bring huge rewards even when everything else is crazy and you spend the rest of the day putting out fires. Onward!

Monitoring your Business
  1. Select one or two metrics and be aware of them at any given time, focusing on sales, cash flow, or incoming leads. -> Sales per day | Visitors/leads per day | Average order price | Sales conversion rate | Net promoter score
  2. Leave everything else for a biweekly, or monthly review where you delve into the overall business more carefully. -> Detailed sales figures | Site traffic | SNS | growth of the business
The most important step in creating an independent identify for the business is to create a product or service with the potential to scale.
A scalable business is built on something that is both teachable and valuable.
-> A business that has the potential to be sold easily for a high profit offers something at the intersection of teachable and valuable.

Key Points

  • There’s more than one road to freedom, and some people find it through a combination of different working arrangements.
  • “Going long” by pursuing growth and deciding to stay small are both acceptable options, and you can split the difference by “going medium”. It all depends on what kind of freedom you’d like to achieve.
  • Work “on” your business by devoting time every day to activities specifically related to improvement, not just responding to everything else that is happening.
  • Regularly monitor one or two key metrics that are the lifeblood of your business. Check up on the others once or twice a month.
  • A business that is scalable is both teachable and valuable. If you ever want to sell your business, you’ll need to build teams and reduce owner dependency.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

The $100 Recap

First and most important, the quest for personal freedom lies in the pursuit of value for others.
Get this right from the beginning and the rest will be much easier.
Always ask, “**How can I help people more?**”

Borrowing money to start a business, or going into debt at all, is now completely optional. Like many of the people you met in this book, you can start your own microbusiness for $100 or less.

Focus relentlessly on the point of convergence between what you love to do and what other people are willing to pay for. Remember that most core needs are emotional: We want to be loved and affirmed.

Relate your product or service to attractive benefits, not boring features.

If you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else

Think about how you can participate in the knowledge economy.

Action beats planning. Use the One-Page Business Plan and other quick-start guides to get under way without waiting.

Crafting an offer, hustling, and producing a launch event will generate much greater results than simply releasing your product or service to the world with no fanfare.

The first $1.26 is the hardest, so find a way to get your first sale as quickly as possible. Then work on improving the things that are working, while ignoring the things that aren’t.

By “franchising yourself” through partnerships, outsourcing, or creating a different business, you can be in more than one place at the same time.

Decide for yourself what kind of business you’d like to build.

  • Advice can be helpful, but you can also just step out and take a big leap. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission.
  • More than competition or other external factors, the biggest battle is against our own fear and inertia. Thankfully, this also means we are in complete control of managing it.
  • When you have a success or “moment you knew” story, hold on to it; these experiences are powerful and will help you later if times get hard.
  • The most important lesson in the whole book: “Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life.”
While creating freedom for yourself, how can you be part of a global revolution to increase opportunity for everyone?