I recently read a book by Chris GuillebeauThe $100 startup and I wanted to share my thoughts and take away from this best seller. I admire Chris. With his passion for travel, business, and following your dream, he has inspired me to take my vacation and continually remember the importance of working on your life, rather than just in it. The lifestyle of freedom he’s achieved is impressive and has proven it’s possible by showing the way. This is a lifestyle I continue to strive for, and I’m happy to have Chris as an example to emulate.

Here are the Twelve take-aways from $100 Startup.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to pursue a dream — stop waiting and begin it now.

When brainstorming business ideas, use the principle of Convergence.
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.

Building a business structured around your desired lifestyle is possible.
Although it may seem like a pipe dream to most people working in corporate jobs, Chris shows this is possible. He identifies 1,500 individuals like himself who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a small initial investment (hence the $100 Startup title). Most microbusinesses earn at least $50,000 a year in net income and have fewer than five employees.

When you make business about helping others, you’ll have plenty of work.
“When you get stuck, ask yourself: How can I give more value? Or more simply: How can I help my customers more?”

It’s more powerful to talk about the emotional benefits your business will provide to its customers, not just the features of your product or service.
“Most people want more of some things (love, money, attention) and less of other things (stress, anxiety, debt). Always focus on what you can add or take away to improve someone’s life.”

Give people fish.
“Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a day” is a powerful concept, but it’s terrible business advice. Businesses exist because sometimes people just want the fish.

Follow your passion, but only if you can identify a market for what you can offer.
“…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.”

Effective marketing is based on invitation, not persuasion.
“Most of us like to buy, but we don’t like to be sold…compelling offers often create an illusion that a purchase is an invitation, not a pitch.”

Planning is overrated — have a bias for action. Most of the case studies had a common thread of getting started quickly first before extensive planning.
“There’s nothing wrong with planning, but you can spend a lifetime making a plan that never turns into action. In a battle between planning and action, action wins.”

Avoid your customer’s immediate pang of anxiety from a purchase by immediately overdelivering.
“You’ll want to get out in front of this feeling by making people feel good about the action they just took…give them more than they expected. You can do this by upgrading their purchase unexpectedly by sending a handwritten thank-you card in the mail or in whatever way makes the most sense for your business. The point is that the small things count.”

Be a hustler, not a charlatan or a martyr.
“A charlatan is all talk, with nothing to back up their claims. A martyr is all action with plenty of good work to talk about but remains unable or unwilling to do the talking. A hustler represents the ideal combination: work and talk fused together.”

Incorporate a “Strategic Giving Marketing Plan” by giving freely.
“It’s not about keeping score or trading favors on a quid pro quo basis; it’s about genuinely caring and trying to improve someone else’s life whenever you can…Strategic giving is about being genuine, truly helpful without the thought of a potential payback.”

Happy reading!