Interview with Chris Guillebeau: Talks $100 Startup, Mistakes to Avoid, Advice to Himself

$100 Startup Chris Guillebeau

An amazing setting for a great book

Chris Guillebeau is a blogger and author who writes at The Art of Nonconformity. He is eight countries shy of his goal of visiting every single country in the world. His writing and message has shaped so many lives, including mine. He has a new book called The $100 Startup and took the time to do an interview with me. 

We live in an amazing time where we have so many resources available to create a successful business from almost nothing.

You’ve proven that in your new book. How did you come up with the idea for The $100 Startup?

The idea came about largely from the AONC community. As I traveled during book tour #1, I kept hearing fun stories of people who had found their own freedom by building a business almost unexpectedly. Then we put a call out to collect more data a bit more intentionally, and I was astounded at the results. I thought: we simply have to tell this story in a comprehensive way.

As you gathered research for the book and came across many amazing stories, what were some of the common traits you found in these successful entrepreneurs?

The case studies were diverse and came from many different backgrounds. What they had in common was an ability to create something useful to the world, not just something that they were personally excited by.

In addition, I think it’s fair to say that most of the unexpected entrepreneurs were fairly curious (they wanted to know everything about their topic of interest) and also somewhat persistent (if the first idea didn’t work, they shifted to something else).

For someone who’s starting a business for the very first time, what are some common mistakes they should avoid?

Mistake #1: going into debt, borrowing money, or believing that you need to do either of those things. Chances are, you don’t.

Mistake #2: failing to convert a general business idea into a specific offer. The sooner you can go from idea to offer, the better. An offer includes a price and a means of getting paid. In other words, don’t wait to get that PayPal button up on your site.

I find that our generation is much different that our parents. I know many parents, including mine, focused only on work and left little for enjoyment until they retired.

Now freedom is what we value the most. Why do you think more people now would rather have more freedom than more money if they had to choose?

Good point. Perhaps some of it is a rejection of an earlier way of life, in the way that most generations tend to do, and perhaps it’s also just the natural evolution of human progress. I think there’s much more of an aspirational aspect to our lives now. We know more of what’s possible, and we know there are more available opportunities.

This is your second book, after The Art of Non-Conformity. Was this book easier or more challenging to write and why?

Much easier. The first book was fairly general and all-encompassing, whereas The $100 Startup is much more specific. It was certainly a lot of work, but in many ways much of the story told itself.

You just turned 34 and your blog is four years old. A lot has changed since you’ve started the AONC.

Knowing what you know now, what would you say to the person you were just five years ago before you started this chapter in your life?

“Look out! This is going to be more thrilling than you ever imagined. (Also: why didn’t you start earlier?)”

Traveling is certainly a part of you. Do you have another big travel goal?

I expect that travel will always be an important part of my life. I’m looking forward to traveling with less of an agenda, spending more time in certain places, etc. But I don’t think I’ll revisit every country, and I don’t yet have another specific travel goal.

Virgin Galactic is taking reservations for their suborbital space flight for $200,000 or 2,000,000 frequent flier points. Are you interested?

That would be great! Except I don’t have $200k or 2M Virgin Atlantic miles to spare at the moment, so we’ll put this on the wishlist for the future.


A Copy of the $100 Startup

I’ve got a hardcover copy of The $100 Startup to giveaway to a Get Busy Living reader. It’s a fantastic book and if you’re looking to create a business that you love and get paid for it, this book is for you.

It’s really easy:

  • Tweet, Facebook Like for one entry!
  • Comment below on your “why” for wanting to start your own $100 startup.
  • I’ll randomly pick a winner on May 28th!

Update: Congrats to Grace Biskie who won a copy of The $100 Startup!

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36 responses to Interview with Chris Guillebeau: Talks $100 Startup, Mistakes to Avoid, Advice to Himself

  1. Yahoo I’m the first to comment .

    Good job Benny on the interview;) it’s awesome.

    I would love to get the book because he speaks my mind. You don’t have to borrow or get into debt to do start up. That’s a pot of gold right there. Thank you

  2. Amanda Schaub May 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Moving soon (for my husband’s career) and I am thinking it might be time for me to start my own job, instead of finding one.

    • Hi Amanda, it would be something to consider. Believe this book will help give you some insight on how to start one.

  3. Great interview! The $100 Startup is on my “to-buy” list and is definitely the book I’m most excited to read as it seems like many IM bloggers are talking about it! Sounds like it’s a real winner!


  4. I love Chris so much that I wish to have his book (hope to win it here).

    Starting a business that will bring in hundreds of thousands does not nexessarily mean you need investors or funding.

    Chris is surely the right man to listen to.

    Great interview here


    • Thanks Sheyi! Yes Chris is the man. He’s done a great job with this book with his advice and stories of successful people.

  5. I’ve been following Chris’s blog for a while now and am on the edge of jumping the corporate ship to do my own thing. The book looks like a great resource for someone like me!

  6. Loved the interview and I have to say I thought the book was great. I also love some of the other stuff Chris has done. Lots of great ideas in the book. I would love to go to his event but that might have to wait until next year. Chris also seems to practice (progrss not perfection)and adapts along the way. I love it!For a lot of people I think fear hold them back and Chris talks a little about this in the book. Remember on the other side of fear is freedom.
    Thanks Benny and have a great week.

    • Yeah I wasn’t able to go to his event as well. I love his blog and his books as well. Thanks for coming by and checking out his interview.

  7. Wow. An interview with Chris Guillebeau. You have come so far since I first started following you from Pat Flynn’s site. I love how you’ve built this community and are getting the recognition you deserve. Awesome.

    Oh yeah. Why I’d love to win this book. Working for someone else has never been what I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss but it’s just taken a little longer than I expected. With my blog now active and the things I learn from you and so many other influential bloggers winning this book would just amp everything up to a whole other level.

    Whoever you choose I know they deserve it. Keep up everything, Benny.

    • Thanks so much Dwayne for the great compliment. I’m still working to get my blog to the level of Chris Guillebeau. 🙂 But I’m having fun along the way.

  8. Who wouldn’t want to start a business for 100 bucks or even 50 bucks
    for that matter.
    For most for us would-be entrepreneurs it is not so much lack of money
    as lack of business savvy that hinders us. if we want something really badly and have the willingness to improvise, we can get find ways around obstacles.
    I think having chutzpah, business savvy and dogged persistence is a lethal
    combination that will allow us to grab our future by the balls and steer it in the direction we want to go. (it also does not hurt to be nice to other people on the way).

    It un-common to have all these qualities in one person and if Mr Guillebeau is giving us the keys to this hidden kingdom, well then respect to you brother!

  9. Jessica Rodgers May 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I want to be an entrepeneur who focuses on community and making the world a better place. I want to help others to find their true potential and to succeed at life! I would love to read Chris’ book to get his take on how to successfully go about starting my own business.

    Love your blog!

    • Thank you Jessica! Hope even if you don’t win, you’ll get a copy of the book. It would definitely help you with your dreams. Thanks for being a part the community here.

  10. Hey Benny, Sweet Interview.

    I’d like to get my hands on the $100 Start up so I can actually start. I’d like to build a solid foundation of my business before I give it a go.


  11. I happened to be at Barnes & Nobles flipping through Chris’ book when I saw your email! I happened to pick it up b/c I’m going through Corbett’s “start a blog that matters” course and Chris has been brought up quite a bit…so there I am walking by saw his name and recognized that obnoxiously long last name (hee hee), picked it up saw your email and decided to take my chances on winning before dropping $24 on a hard copy. I felt like I was beginning to take his advice after just reading through his introductory chapter: try to spend as little as possible on your startup! Needless to say, my “why” is that I’m headed on this track and I would LOVE Chris’ book to accompany Corbett’s course + Danny Iny’s Write Like Freddy course. I’m on the path and trying like heck to carve out a business for myself…as cheaply as possible, which is pretty easy since I’m broke! =)

    • Hey Grace!

      That’s a great course to go through. I know Corbett always puts out quality courses. This book would definitely be a great addition to the courses you’re taking now. I love the design of your blog. That’s definitely a strange and funny coincidence you were flipping through his book and got my email! I’ll tell everyone who wins next Monday. Thanks for reading the interview and your comment!

  12. Hey Benny. Great interview! I’d love a copy because, well, it’s hard to find in Turkey, but as I’ll be returning to the states in June, I’d like to see The Everyday Language Learner really take off and become not only an amazing resource, but also a business that I’d like it to become.

    Keep rockin it!


  13. Angel T. Marcotte May 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I wanted to start up with my business with assurance. Thank’s to you guys.

  14. What a great interview Benny. Loved reading a litle behind the scenes. you asked some great questions..

    I got an advanced copy of Chris’s book in the mail a 1 1/2 weeks ago. I didn’t think he would send it to me since the advanced copy notice said US only but i applied anyways and got one sent to me all the way to France. I was so thrilled to receive it and so far (i’m half way through it) i love it. So inspirational.

    I’ve been reading all sorts of reviews about his book around the web and they are all stellar. He has really done a great job with this book. I think his success is going to catapult even more from here on out..

    • Thanks Annie. That’s great you got sent an advance copy even though you’re in France! It’s a great book and one I know will be recommended to any entrepreneur for a long time. Wonder what’s next for him.

  15. Wonderful post! this only means anyone may start a business in a small budget of $100. thanks for the tips.

  16. “I find that our generation is much different that our parents… Now freedom is what we value the most.”

    It’s exciting to see this trend, and I wonder what the work landscape will look like for our kids and grandkids. Will we see more entrepreneurs, more small companies, and more ROWE-type (results-oriented work environment) atmospheres even among the big companies? I really hope so!

    • I do wonder what it’ll look like of our kids and grandkids as well. Maybe at that time, we’ll think they’re crazy for having that attitude, just like how our parents think we are a little crazy now wanting more freedom.

  17. Great interview! Really enjoyed reading that. I like his point about us having a higher degree of aspiration than in previous generations perhaps. For example, people hold off on starting families longer so that they can focus completely on laying down the foundation for their work.


  18. Great interview! I too read all sorts of reviews about this book. He has really done a great job with this book.

  19. Mark – Accent Reduction Specialist July 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I found out about this book listening to webmaster radio. Incredible insights into how marketing has changed and a glimpse into the era of the new “entrepeneur.” Thanks!

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