“Imagine a life where all your time is spent on the things you want to do.
Imagine giving your greatest attention to a project you create yourself, instead of as a cog in a machine that exists to make other people rich.
Imagine handing a letter to your boss that reads, ‘Dear Boss, I am writing to let you know your services are no longer required. Thanks for everything, but I’ll be doing things my own way now.”
— Introduction, The $100 Startup
Once I made up my mind to start my own business (not realizing how soon my day would come), it was as though all the forces of the universe came together to prepare me for what was ahead.
The first sign came truly came out of nowhere—meaning, before I’d even had a chance to run any kind of Google search that would result in internet-cookies-induced product placements. It was a book review on the A Beautiful Mess blog for a work called The $100-Startup.
I was broke when I read the review. I couldn’t afford to buy house-brand tea bags. But considering my recent epiphany—that I no longer wanted to work for someone else—the book sounded like it had been placed on my path for a reason. So, crossing my fingers, I checked the local library’s online catalog, and what do you know—they had it!
Every day for two weeks, as soon I got out of work, I stopped by the library and read a chapter of that book. (The library that had it was out-of-state, so I couldn’t get a library card.) I brought scrap paper with me, and when my pen ran out of ink from taking notes, I rummaged through the stacks until I found one of those short pencils intended for writing reference numbers, and then I wrote until the lead was dull. I jotted down gems like the “One-Page Business Plan,” “Six Steps to Getting Started Right Now,” and “The 140-Character Mission Statement,” all of which helped me to form an idea of what I’d one day go on to do.
In a time when building capital was a non-option, affordable action steps and tidbits of wisdom fueled my dream of one day working from my apartment. Stories like the one of a guy who lost his decades-long desk job and, probably in shock, bought 10 closeout mattresses in order to flip them at a higher price (and wound up opening the most successful mattress store in his region), told me that anyone could make a business happen with a little resourcefulness and a lot of determination.
I saved up a dollar here, and a dollar there, and bought my own copy of Chris Guillebeau’s master work. (I’d basically rewritten every other line on bits of scrap paper, and by the time I’d closed the book on the final chapter, I knew it was a book I’d want to have on my shelf to reference at a moment’s notice.) Today, not only do I work for myself and reference this book constantly, but I’ve also purchased multiple copies so I can hand it out to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
I’m a firm believer that if you want to go somewhere in life, and the path isn’t ready-made for you, you can make that path on your own. I think that’s the #1 reason Guillebeau’s book resonated with me; his interviews and case studies reached world-wide, included both men and women, touched on careers in almost every industry… and in every case, the business stories started with someone who was out of options and out of money. The notion “everyone has to start somewhere” was basically proven in this book.
Furthermore, today I could be one of Guillebeau’s case studies. I started with no money. Research doesn’t have to cost you. Library books are free. If you can get on the internet from your phone—on public WiFi, which means you don’t have to pay for it—then you can look things up online, and that’s free. You can ask to pick someone’s brain, and if you do the courteous thing and offer to buy that person a cup of coffee, it might cost you $5—but if you meet in a park or at an office, that can be free, too.
And then again, if you have a few bucks, you can also just get yourself a just one book that could take you where you want to go next. I did, and it was $15 I would never trade for anything else.
Get yourself a copy of The $100 Startup at my special link, and let me know what you think of it.