OWL Magazine Korea

Chris Gilabo “The $100 Startup”

Until about five years ago, in 2019, we were in the midst of a “YOLO” startup boom. While economic growth and a sense of calm seemed to be in the air, that changed in the winter of 2019 when COVID-19 arrived.

The world has changed dramatically since COVID-19. The positive vibes were all but gone, replaced by negativity. The economy slowed down as a result of the pandemic, and the self-employed were hit hard. As we move into the post-COVID era in 2024, the direct stresses of COVID-19 have eased, but the economic fallout from the pandemic is still present.

“Chris Guillebeau: The $100 Startup (The $100 Startup)”

A book called “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau is a great book about “startups” that was published in 2012, about five years ago during the startup boom.

The book is about “going it alone.” This book is a call to action for anyone who wants to make the leap from being a salaried employee to becoming an entrepreneur. In fact, in the 21st century, with the advent of the internet, it’s easier than ever to start your own business. However, it can also be a bit of an environment to start a startup. In an environment like Silicon Valley, where there are a lot of people trying and a lot of investors, more people would be able to start a business. However, it is unfortunate that the environment in Korea is not like that.

In the past, there was a lot of government support for startups, and people were encouraged to try their hand at it, but COVID-19 seems to have put an end to that boom.

“Do I need a new idea and a lot of money to start a business?”

In Korea, if you start a business and it fails, you are stigmatized and suffer financially, but in the US, especially in Silicon Valley, it is more natural to start a business.

Perhaps, this is why this book was written based on this aspect. In the book, you don’t need to have a novel idea to “start a business,” and you don’t need a lot of money.

“Monetize what you love and what you can do well.”

The book’s point is simple. The idea is to do something you love and are good at and make a consistent profit.

When the author researched and interviewed people who started their businesses with small capital and made a certain level of profit, he found that the initial investment was not much. The author says that you can start a business with as little as $100, or about $130,000 in Korean money.

In order to find something you can do with as little as $100 in capital, it’s important to get to know yourself. It’s all about figuring out “what I’m good at” and “what skills or abilities I have that can be monetized”.

Especially if you’re wondering if your favorite hobby can be turned into a business, you can follow the checklist below.

  • “Not all passions and ideas turn into good businesses. There’s a difference between a business and a hobby One thing you should know is that some people don’t want to combine their hobbies with work. Let’s say you have a hobby that you do as a way to relieve stress in your life, but when you build a business around it, it’s no longer a hobby, but a “job” that you’re responsible for completing every day. Some say it’s a good idea to separate your hobby from your job.”
  • Use the self-assessment checklist below to see if starting a “passion business” is right for you. Benjamin Franklin once said “When passion overflows, let reason control it.”
  • The Self-Checklist
    • Questions to ask yourself
      • Can I spend at least 20 hours a week working on my hobby?
      • Do I enjoy teaching others about my hobby?
      • Do I enjoy all the details associated with my hobby?
      • If I spent a significant amount of time on the management and administrative tasks associated with my hobby, would I still love it?
    • Questions about the market
      • Have I ever been asked to help others who need your knowledge?
      • Are there enough people willing to pay me to help them?
      • Is there a market for a business related to your idea?

“It’s not what you don’t have that keeps you from starting.”

In books, you’ll often find examples of how people with unique abilities or skills have started businesses and made money. There are stories of people who have traveled to many countries and mastered the ability to learn multiple foreign languages and are now charging tuition to share their knowledge, or people who designed maps for their own travels and thought they could sell the extra copies online, but the maps became so popular that they made a fortune.

There are also stories of people who were laid off from their jobs, bought something on the advice of an acquaintance, found a knack for selling it, and made a lot of money.

At the end of the day, the message of the book is that you don’t have to have what you don’t have to start. The message is that you can always start a business, even if you don’t have a fresh idea or a lot of money.

“(Passion + Talent) → (Problem Solving + Marketability) = Opportunity”

However, this book does not suggest that anyone can start a business with a “$100” investment and succeed. It’s important to choose a business idea that you think will be successful and invest in it.

You can’t succeed with just passion, you need passion and talent, and when you combine that with marketability and problem-solving skills, you have a chance.

“Top 3 things to think about when starting a project”

The first three things you need to think about when coming up with a business idea are revenue. The purpose of a business is to make money, so you need to come up with a powerful way to “make money”. The book suggests asking yourself the following questions about how to make a decent profit, and if you can’t answer “yes” to any of them, you should reconsider the idea.

  • Can the project produce a product or service that will appeal to customers?
  • Do you know people who will be willing to pay for your product or service?
  • Have you thought of a payment method or way to accept purchases?

The “one-page business plan”

It’s also important to write a “one-page business plan” before starting a business, the authors say. Write an outline of your business, how you will generate income, and how you will promote it.

  • Outline
    • What is it that you want to sell?
    • Who are the people who want to buy it?
    • How can your business idea help others?
  • Earnings
    • How much will you charge?
    • What payment methods will you accept?
    • Can you use the same project to generate other income streams?
  • Hustling
    • What are some ways to let customers know about your business?
    • How can I encourage referrals from customers?
  • Success (A project is successful when it achieves the following milestones)
    • Number of customers ____ or
    • Total annual income ____
  • Obstacles/challenges/open questions
    • Specific issues or questions
    • Answers to specific questions
  • Deadline
    • You should start this project no later than ____.

“Do something that creates value.”

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to do something that adds special value. If the value you create can help the people who consume your product or service, that’s great.

In this example, a farmer transformed his farm into a place to ride horses, adding value along with profit. Riding horses on the farm creates new value for people to feel like they are escaping from their daily lives and exploring the world of Sindbahan.

However, at the end of the day, it’s the ideas that can “make money” that matter. It’s even better if you can add a special “value” to it. After all, it’s the “value” that keeps you in business for the long haul.

The way to find these ideas is to go back to the beginning. It’s about, “What can I do well, and what can I monetize that?” And it’s important to give it “value” in order to make it last.

There’s even a website dedicated to “$100 startup” ideas based on the ideas in the book. The answer is “100startup.com”. You’ll find a lot more information on the site.

“The $100 Startup: How to Reinvent Your Life and Create a New Future with $100”