Later this month, Facebook is planning a ninety billion dollar IPO. Let’s write out that number so we glimpse its enormity: $90,000,000,000. Whoa.

Chris Guilliebeau thinks Facebook is cool. But he urges the rest of us to concentrate on a smaller number: a hundred bucks. Let’s write out that one, too. $100. See? It’s a lot more manageable.

In his new book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, (Buy it on Amazon,, or IndieBound), Guillebeau examines a slew of people who’ve started enterprises with extremely modest investments — and managed to build both a business and life.

With the book launching today, Chris agreed to answer some questions for Pink Blog readers about risk, reward, and revolution.


1. In the book, you talk about the freedom of leaving a soul-sucking job to begin an entrepreneurial adventure. It sounds wonderful, but in rough economy, why would someone with a steady job want to take a chance on self-employment?

In a time of uncertainty, many of us are thinking about security and redefining risk. I don’t believe that pursuing self-employment is “taking a chance,” at least not compared to taking a chance in a highly competitive, difficult job market that offers few opportunities for independence. Many of the people I talked with for the book found that their own competence was their best security.

Furthermore, lots of big businesses—Microsoft, GE, and HP to name a few—were all started during recessions. So in my mind, while there are certainly some bad things about an economic downturn, there is also a great deal of opportunity.

2. What is one thing Pink Blog readers could do today to take that first step on the road to freedom?

I bet that the astute Pink Blog readership has a lot of ideas for a business. Some of them are probably great ideas, but one thing I’ve learned is that most “business ideas” are actually too general. So the one thing these astute readers can do is convert that general idea into a specific offer. What will you actually offer the world, and how will you get paid for it?

Starting a business isn’t that complicated. You don’t need an MBA or a 60-page business plan that no one will ever read. You do, however, need a few things:

a) A product or service
b) A group of people willing to buy it
c) A means of getting paid

When thinking about business ideas, always think in this framework: what it is, who it’s for, and how you’ll get paid?

3.  Anything they should not do?
Yes. Don’t feel like you have to have everything in place before starting. I often hear from people in cubicle-land who want to “quit their jobs” but have concerns about income and providing for others. These are valid concerns!

So if that’s your situation, don’t quit. But don’t wait in paralysis either. The sooner you can create a side project that will bring in some extra cash, the better. A little extra cash from an all-new source can be highly empowering. It creates the potential that, one day, you may indeed be able to walk away from that soul-sucking job.

18 Responses to “Can you launch a startup with just 100 bucks?”

  1. Dan! Thanks!

    I was hugely honored to have your kind endorsement for the book, and I’m glad to be here too.

  2. Does the $100 include sweat equity? I am a software developer, and 1 to 2 hours of work would already put me over your budget.

  3. Jon Acuff wrote a great book to compliment the subject matter of this book. Quitter. A one two punch for sure. Chris, best of luck with the book. I guess I need to be extra smart with my $83 after I buy yours 🙂

  4. Julie says:

    I was hard pressed in trying to start an at home baking business
    with just $100. It’s on hold for now.

  5. Rob Gregory says:

    I managed to start-up for $37 but it’s getting the return on this ‘investment’ that is the fun bit:

  6. Bob says:

    I think a $100 startup is very doable, if you have the means to support yourself while you’re growing. It’s an intriguing concept, but I wonder if the recipe in the book will boil down too: you just need to invest 100 Dollars and 1000 hours (of initially unpaid work)?

  7. Andreas Kopp says:

    100 $ is not much. It also depends what service you want to offer. I am looking forward to hear all those examples in the book. It would be great to hear about stories of people that started something from Zero or from being homeless.

  8. Omar says:

    This is quite interesting because it fits my situation perfectly.

    I started a side business two years ago and I’m still on full time employment, the cost of the project was roughly around 100$. Now two years later I’m at the point where I’m preparing to leave my employment and focus on it full time.

    The biggest issue in my case was determination to actually pursue that prospect and believe in it, I don’t think the money was the problem.

    Different people have different situations and what’s holding people back from starting businesses is different each time.

    Will check out the book, thanks Dan!

  9. Mary Erickson says:

    Very timely for my life right now! My husband and I started a trucking business on the “side” 5 years ago. It was nice extra cash but we wanted to make it bigger with our goal being that we could BOTH quit our jobs. Now we have a couple trucks and my husband does full time trucking. We are close to the point of me being able to quit…but man I am scared! I’m in a high level job with plenty of security…but my soul is definitely sucked! As far as start up – we always say we started out with less than nothing because we had to loan $$ to get the trucks and borrow from family for the down payment. There were months part of my paycheck went to our drivers! Last year though, we grossed $200 K and have come along way!

  10. Paula Twang says:

    We have a side biz that has been growing steadily for 3 yrs, but we need to take a risk/loan to achieve our potential. Exactly what I need to read today. Thank you!

  11. Susana says:

    Thank you so much for this, amazingly timely as I am about to take the leap out of soul-sucking (and just plain sucking) into self-employment without any guarantees and about $6000!!

  12. thank you very much,it’s a very good Article!

  13. Mark says:

    This is a very interesting article and the three points that were brought up are a very good starting point.

    a) A product or service
    b) A group of people willing to buy it
    c) A means of getting paid

    However with that being said if you are not creating something but rather offering a service how can you be sure that a client is willing to buy the service?

    I ask because I am at the beginning of my career with no large life responsibilities (mortgage or children) which makes a $100 risk seem like a small investment. The only question that I am not comfortable answering of the three posted is Who will buy what I am offering?

  14. Thanks for the heads up on this. I just got it today and am half way through the book. Excellent read.

  15. Richard says:

    I also like the three points (a) A product or service
    b) A group of people willing to buy it
    c) A means of getting paid). They give a clear and simple framework. This is practical stuff that I can run with. Thank you!

  16. Stephen says:

    I think the worst thing is to procrastinate. Every time you give excuses of not starting up you are indulging more in procrastinating.

    Sometime to succeed you need to take a leap of faith. Yes it may fail, but do you sit down to ask, what if SUCCEEDS?

    My advice, start now with calculated risks.

  17. vinos mahajan says:

    I feel you have put the things in the most appropriate way.I wish we had these articles to read when we started our own business.thanks anyway.