What are we to expect from your new book the $100 Start Up?
You can expect two things: first, the stories of ordinary people from all over the world who created their own freedom by starting a business without spending a lot of money. We conducted a multi-year study with 1,500 people who all submitted stories and detailed financial information about their business.
Next, you can expect a detailed roadmap for establishing one of these microbusinesses yourself. I wanted to tell the stories because I found them personally inspiring, but just as important I wanted to create a resource that readers could use to pursue their own lives of freedom. I wanted it to be very specific, to the point that someone could read the book and establish a profitable business within 30 days of less. The key theme is: stop waiting! Do this now!
If someone wanted to give it all up and start over, what is the best single piece of advice you could give to them?
First I'd say: You don't have to give it all up. The experiences you've had and the knowledge you've gained along the way may very well serve you in a new career. So yes, give up the job or whatever it is you're trying to escape from, but at the same time focus on your skills and how those things can help people.
You have only 10 countries left to go to visit, why did you settle in Portland, Oregon, as your home?
Portland is a fun little town that welcomes people of all kinds, especially creative or unconventional people. I write about unconventional living, but I actually feel quite mainstream and boring compared to many of the people who live in Portland.
What was the most inspiring story you heard of starting over?
I’m a bit of a renegade, so I’m personally drawn to stories of other renegades who were determined to go it alone no matter what. I like the story of Megan Hunt, who was just twenty-years-old when she stepped out to work on her own as a clothing and wedding accessories designer. Four years later, she now owns the co-working space she works from, and takes her young daughter to work every day.
However, most of the people I talked with for the study weren’t like Megan. Most were a bit older and had been established in some kind of traditional career. Then something happened—several had lost their jobs or otherwise had a big, scary transition moment. The scary moment turned into an inspiring story as they ended up starting a business instead of returning to the traditional workplace.
How do you spend your time?
I'm a writer, entrepreneur, and traveler. I've been self-employed most of my life and an active traveler for the past decade. For the past four years, I've been writing about the process each week on my blog (ChrisGuillebeau.com).
Why is it important that we enjoy what we do for a living?
Because we spend most of our time at work, and many of those hours are our most productive. Whether we work for ourselves or someone else, why shouldn't we do whatever we can to enjoy it?
What was the one moment that made you want to change?
There wasn't a single moment, but one turning point was after 9/11. I was depressed, like a lot of people all over the world, and I found my way out through volunteer work. I moved to West Africa to join the volunteer crew of a hospital ship, and the process was very transformative.
How hard is it to create your own living when we are in a recession?
In many ways it's easier. Lots of big companies, including GE and Microsoft, were started during recessions. On an individual level, people tend to reconsider their values during an economically challenging time. Many of the people in The $100 Startup found more security in taking matters into their own hands than they did in entrusting their career to a turbulent job market.
What reaction did you get from your friends and family when you decided to become self employed?
I was previously a juvenile delinquent, so going into (legal) business for myself was a positive step. As for others, I've found that some family and friends may be initially uncomfortable when someone chooses to leave the job market—but they usually come around over time. Nothing helps like success, especially visible success that can be replicated.
Where have you still to visit?
Eight countries: Guinea Bissau, Republic of Congo, Seychelles, Sao Tome, Yemen, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Norway. (We saved an easy country for the end, since a number of my readers will be going me for a big finale.)
This is your second book, any plans for a third?
Yep! I hope to write my next book on the topic of adventure and visiting every country in the world. Stay tuned...
Female First Lucy Walton