Last week I released my new book, The $100 Startup. It tells the stories of unexpected and unconventional entrepreneurs who started a business not with a lot of money, but by using the skills they already had. As I traveled the world and talked with them, I was inspired—and I wanted to tell their stories. What lessons had they learned, and what could they teach us?
The book is also a blueprint for readers looking to create their own freedom. As I combed through thousands of pages of data, and tens of thousands of emails, I discovered some basic ingredients for start-up success. Here are a five of them:
To be successful, find convergence between your interests and other people's interests. Not every business based on a personal passion can be successful, but many passion-based businesses are successful. What's the difference? The combination of passion and usefulness. Focus first and foremost on how your idea will improve the lives of others.
Put happiness in a box and sell it. The more astute business owners understood that their business met a clear emotional need. When it comes down to it, most people want to be happy—so relate your pitch to a specific thing that will add something positive to your customers' lives.
Less is more. Almost everyone we talked with started their business for less than $1,000, and many for less than $100. In some cases, previous ventures that required more capital were unsuccessful. Instead of begging for money, many of our case studies learned a better approach is to bootstrap.
Everyone's an expert at something. If you're not sure what you're good at, think about the questions that people frequently ask you. A lot of creative small businesses were crafted from careful listening, including the guy who makes $100,000 a year helping people book tickets with their Frequent Flyer Miles, and the New York City lawyer who left her practice to begin a private yoga studio in Washington, D.C.
Most people want to help. I wanted The $100 Startupto be very specific, so we asked everyone to provide a lot of details about their business, including how much money they made every year from the business. I expected some initial reluctance on this point, but almost everyone said, "If this information will help other people, I'm willing to share."
The microbusiness revolution has officially arrived. There aren't any excuses left, but there are plenty of opportunities. All over the world, people are starting small businesses based on something they love to do that improves the lives of others. If you're reading this post, I hope you'll be next! --Chris Guillebeau