How to Earn from What You Love: 5 Lessons from The $100 Startup

In this insightful read, Chris Guillebeau focuses on 50 case studies of individuals who have managed to build profitable businesses from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less.)

Sure, making money and being your own boss is great, but perhaps the most intriguing message in the book is being able to live a life of your own choosing— doing what you love in the pursuit of freedom.

One thing that stood out most for me in the book was the number of entrepreneurs who refrained (and/or corrected Chris) from describing their projects as neither jobs nor businesses, despite the obvious fact that they were making tons of money from them.

The numerous lessons in this book reintroduce you to yourself— forcing you to stop and look at your skills and untapped potential with fresh eyes. I lost count of the number of times an imaginary bulb popped above my head, as I was reading this book.

Here are 5 notable lessons from the $100 Startup to help propel you on your own journey to freedom in pursuing what you love, and essentially, securing the bag.

5 Lessons from The $100 Startup
The $100 Startup via Amazon



Make sure your heart, body and soul are aligned in whatever you set off to pursue


  1. Identify and sift through your skills & passions

In your current profession, or day-to-day activities, you might be able to do some things on autopilot. Maybe you are a photographer, but your captions stand out in a way that exposes an untapped skill in writing or poetry (both of which can work in your advantage and expand your income base.) In a process he terms ‘skill transformation’, Chris emphasizes that you’re probably good at more than one thing.

Value is also born out of a combination of two or more ‘good enough’ skills— you may not be the best writer, teacher, or photographer. What makes you special, however, is the fact that you possess all these modest skills, making the collective skill unmatched.

Tip: Take note of and analyze a skill that people often compliment you on.


  1. Provide Value

Keeping in mind that not every passion makes a good business model, you can never go wrong when you find a way to merge your passions and skills with something that others will find useful and/or helpful.

In the same light, your marketing efforts are more likely to yield fruits when you talk about your work in terms of the benefits customers will receive, as opposed to the boring features it offers (which most often than not are only fascinating to you.) The unique benefits you offer make you stand out from a pool of similar entrepreneurs in your niche. Let’s face it, people are always looking for what’s in it for them.


  1. Look for ideas & opportunities in the mundane

This one is about being mindful and paying attention, everywhere you go. In some cases, there is only so much you can do. But there are those rare moments where you get a brilliant business idea from something as mundane as your daily commute, or see opportunity written all over a problem or a gap in the market. You can also find opportunities from new technology, or existing businesses. Hey! A bunch of people found profitable opportunities from a pandemic.

However, if an idea does not pop up, do not beat yourself up about it. Remember there will always be want for new bread. So what if a hundred other people are doing it? Give it your own spin and run with it— it might be the bread that was missing in the market.


  1. Find ways to help more

Guillebeau calls it the freely receive, freely give approach. When all else fails, ask yourself how you can help people more. You are bound to succeed when you center your business around helping others and solving problems.

I arrived at a realization of my own as I was reading this— especially when you are at the initial stages of pursuing what you love, helping people might prove beneficial, before you start cashing in. Of course, the ultimate goal should be monetization, but working with beta clients for free will help you hone your craft (minus the pressure,) and build a portfolio that will eventually attract paying clients.


  1. Focus on the work

You will not just wake up and stumble upon freedom. Even after you have found a killer business idea that stems from passion, you will only bask in its success when you put in the work. You cannot get full benefits from half the effort. Make sure your heart, body and soul are aligned in whatever you set off to pursue, and then proceed to working SMART by having realistic expectations.


Bonus Lesson: Keep costs low

While we are on the topic of putting in the work, it could be on your best interest to invest sweat equity instead of money in your project. This way, if things don’t work out, you will avoid going into debt and minimize the impact of failure. Either way, some things are just not necessary. So, if you can do without, then do without.


The themes of freedom and value are emphasized throughout this book, and some lessons stand out in a way that’s hard to miss. As you might have noticed, however, some ideas resonate with you more than others, depending on one’s personal situation, aspirations and/or profession. Others still are born out of your perspective and experiences as an individual.

What I am saying— The next time you are wondering what to read, grab yourself a copy of The $100 Startup, and see what lessons add value to your career and/or business. Most importantly, be sure to grab it if the 9–5 hustle is just not for you. (wink wink)


Have you already read The $100 Startup? Share your thoughts in the comments!

4 Responses

  1. Lindsay

    Very good advice! I started a travel blog 6 months ago, and my initiative is to help travelers make the most out of their travels. I’m normally a day or weekend tripper, so need to maximise my time while away, so this is what I write about. It’s definitely true you have to be passionate about what you do. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.