30 Apr How $62.90 Turned into a Six-Figure Business (The birth of the $100 startup)
“We rule out the possibility of great change, because it doesn’t seem realistic…”
– Leo Babauta
In honor of Chris Guillebeau’s latest book, The $100 Startup, today I want to talk a little about Possibility and the question of “Why Not?”
But to start…
The Death of the ‘Risky’ Startup
There was a time not long ago when turning an idea into a business required a massive investment. Less than a decade ago the cost of building a passion into a career required significant risk.
It may have meant leveraging your home, your bank account and maybe even some close relationships, to drum up the seed capital and support.
For many it meant hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of loans. Or even taking on investors and giving up a large slice of your dream, in exchange for the millions needed just to get it off the ground.
And that’s assuming the passion-based business was even possible – which 30 years ago, was likely not the case.
The risks used to be enough to get almost anyone saying “there’s no f*#%ing” way.
They got so high as to convince the world that living someone else’s dream (or no one’s at all) was the way life was going to be.
But that was then…
This is no longer the case.
In the past 5-10 years, the odds have dramatically shifted in our favor.
These excuses and risks and fears are no longer valid.
The days of a passion-based business requiring massive amounts of investment are gone.
Sure, you can still raise a boatload of cash, but you don’t have to.
In fact today, in many cases, it’s better if you don’t.
You don’t need employees, you don’t need debt, you don’t need angel and venture investors.
You simply don’t need the money.
All you need is a ridiculous passion to help people, the willingness to work your ass off and a few bucks.
Live Your Legend started as a hacked-together website created to share a few ideas with anyone who’d listen.
I started it as an afterthought, on a dare from a friend.
And I did it on a crappy Dell laptop on a free Sunday afternoon from my apartment in Santa Barbara.
I didn’t really think about taking on investors – but then again maybe that’s because I had enough ‘seed capital’ sitting in the change jar on my desk.
This is exactly how much Live Your Legend cost to create:
- Buying the domain name: $9.95
- Buying the hosting package: $7.95/month
- Hiring someone on Elance to help with some code: $45
- Inspiration and motivation to do something meaningful: Priceless
The grand total startup cost for this site…wait for it… $62.90
I kid you not.
The startup cost for this site, this business, was less than I was spending on my monthly gym membership.
That was just a few years ago. I started with exactly zero followers, zero products and zero experience.
This year this business will likely bring in well over six figures.
All from the cost of a meal out with my wife.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened.
And it happened with absolutely NO risk.
No risk of my savings, of my livelihood, my reputation or my sanity.
Sure, I invested plenty more later, but not until it was validated and the investment was warranted.
Money is not what’s holding you back.
Turning a passion into a business today costs less than a haircut in some cities (you should see what they charge in SF).
And you don’t have to quit your job. You can do it on the side. You can start small.
And you can do things you think you only read about people doing.
It’s not easy and it might not be fast.
But it is possible – and that’s all that matters.
That is what we seem to take for granted. Even ten years ago this stuff was literally undoable. The tools and technology flat out didn’t exist. And if they did, the costs made it untouchable to someone without a big company bankroll or venture backing.
It would have been a joke to think a man could quit a well-paying job and support a family of eight and move them across the world to San Francisco, all while writing short productivity articles from a MacBook Air. Leo Babauta proved us wrong with ZenHabits.
The thought of spending half your year in California, a quarter of it in Mexico and the rest traveling around the world with your wife – all while growing a business, was the stuff of stories. Now that’s what Corbett Barr does every year through Think Traffic and Expert Enough.
Or how about going on a quest to see every country in the world, while leading a full-blown movement to take the road less traveled, becoming a bestselling published author and growing a bigger following than most politicians could dream of. Crazy right? But Chris Guillebeau did it anyway – mostly from his laptop while 30k feet above international waters. And every day he helps tens of thousands of others (including me) learn to do the same. His latest movement, The $100 Startup, is a perfect example – which I’m honored to be a part of. More on that below.
10 years ago none of the above lifestyles could have existed. Today it’s starting to become a new normal.
And it doesn’t even have to take that long…
These people are at the top of their industry, yet many started two or three years ago. Five or six years max.
And none of them had any special connections starting out. Neither did I. We started on our own. With an idea and nothing else.
But what a difference a few years can make. Think for a second how crazy that timeframe is.
When in the history of the world could you be at the top of your industry in a matter of a few years?
These guys (and countless others) have crushed it, from a completely standing start.
They show me what’s really possible.
Live Your Legend started as a tiny hobby. An afterthought.
But I decided to start it. And slowly people started to listen.
But even after the hundreds upon hundreds of hours of writing and work, it still only began a few years ago (which seems like yesterday).
I just turned 30 – and in this industry I’m on the old side (although I’m still feeling pretty fresh :)). Last night I Skyped with a friend, five years younger than me, who recently built a high six-figure business around Rapid Learning. How random is that? But he’s figured out how to help people in an important way, and people love it. And he started while he was still in university. What were you doing with your spare time when you were in college?
There is no shortage of opportunity.
The examples are everywhere. And there are more everyday.
There has never been a more empowering time than right now – for the world to build a micro-business around a passion and have it blossom into a career.
It’s happening all around all of us.
And it’s inspiring as all hell!
The biggest cost is you.
Live Your Legend cost $62.90 to start.
But the real investment was me. I put my heart and soul into my writing. It was a hobby turned passion. It was my favorite way of helping people. So outside of my other work, I began to give it everything. It became the work I couldn’t not do.
That’s the investment that’s free, yet the most priceless of all.
No matter what you tell yourself, it is not a question of money, or even time.
Those are manufactured excuses.
The only variable is you – how badly you want something. How badly you want to make a difference. How burning your desire is to help people in a way only you can.
Combine that passion with today’s nearly-free tools and anything becomes possible.
But it can only happen if you start.
There is no waiting. You are either doing something today to get you closer to what you want, or it’s moving further out of reach. Nothing stands still. It’s on you to decide which direction it’s going to be.
And I have something I think will help a lot.
The Birth of the $100 Startup…
Chris Guillebeau just launched his latest book, The $100 Starup, and I think it’s going to change the game in a big way when it comes to doing passionate work. In fact I think it’s the best career tool I’ve seen all year. For those unfamiliar, he’s the founder of the Art of Non-Conformity and World Domination Summit. He’s also taught me a ton about this business, both through personal interactions with him as a trusted friend, and through his writing and tools.
Chris and I have similar goals – to get the world doing what makes them come alive. But Chris has taken it to a whole new level. He has spent the the last 2+ years seeking out the most powerful case studies around the world of people who started massively successful lifestyle businesses for less than $100. Yes – there are more of these people than you’d think.
He then compiled all their stories, and the core tenets that make their businesses and lifestyles possible, and he’s published everything into a hardcover book called The $100 Startup. It’s the ultimate roadmap/how-to guide for starting a business for next to no investment cost, and the stories and tools will blow your mind.
I highly recommend you check out the book and the full $100 Startup movement that Chris is leading. It’s powerful stuff.
If we want to do big things, we have to learn from the people doing them.
The right models are priceless. Both for living life and doing business.
Don’t underestimate the power that comes in knowing what and how someone built the career that most dream of.
Remember, the fastest way to start doing things you didn’t think could be done, is to start hanging around people already doing then.
I hope this helps.
But more than anything, what is so important to me and to all our work here at Live Your Legend, is that you do something. If the book’s not for you, that’s totally fine. But that’s not a reason not to get off your ass and start building something that matters.
Do it on your own or with the help of others.
But you must start.
Cost is no longer a barrier to building a business around work you love.
Please let that sink in.
We are in more control than we give ourselves credit for.
Nothing is more powerful than opportunity.
All you have to do is do something with it.
Welcome to the era of the risk-free startup. Living off your passion has never been more possible.
I can’t wait to see what you build!
As always, I am here to help.
P.S. I don’t get any affiliate commission if you buy the book. I am just doing this because I love Chris’s work and I think it will help in a huge way. Enjoy!