Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Decision to Go (a.k.a. "Now Is the Time")

What decision to act can you make right now?

Posted Jun 04, 2012


Previous Updates in this Series:

Skill Transformation
Report from the Road

Today I want to share the most important lesson of The $100 Startup.

The central message of the book is that the skills (and the money) you already have are all you need. You don’t need an MBA. You don’t need to beg the bank for money. You don’t need to write a 60-page business plan that no one will ever read.

To start a business, you just need a product or service, a group of people willing to buy it, and a way to get paid. That’s it! Focus on these three things exclusively.

As quickly as possible, get the first sale. Aim to do this within 30 days of conceiving of your idea. Then, pursue a process of continuous improvement to tweak your way to the bank (more on this later).

There is no consulting school. If you want to help people with a specific problem, go ahead and set up shop. (See the Instant Consultant Plan.)

We become comfortable with change by taking action to change. (See this article and a lesson on bulldozers for more.)

One of my favorite stories from the book comes from Lexington, South Carolina. On my first book tour, 18 months ago, I stopped by the Jamestown Coffee Shop. It was a great place and reminded me a lot of some of my favorite shops in the Pacific Northwest…. which wasn’t surprising once I heard the story. Here’s some background on how Jamestown Coffee came to be:

From his home base in Seattle, James Kirk used to build and manage computer data centers around the country. But in an act of conviction that took less than six months from idea to execution, he packed up a 2006 Mustang and left Seattle for South Carolina, on a mission to start an authentic coffee shop in the land of biscuits and iced tea. Once he made the decision, he says, all other options were closed:

“There was one moment very early on where I realized, this is what I want to do, and this is what I am going to do. And that was that. Decision made. I’ll figure the rest out.”

As we’ll see, James later got serious about making a real plan, but the more important step was the decision to proceed. Ready or not, he was heading for a major change, and it couldn’t come soon enough. A few short months later, Jamestown Coffee opened for business in Lexington, South Carolina. James and his new staff had worked ten-hour days for several weeks to prepare for the opening. But there it was—a ribbon to be cut, the mayor on hand to welcome the business to the community, and a line of customers eager to sample the wares. The day had come at last, and there was no looking back.

Later in the book I discuss more about the coffee shop. Along the way, James made numerous adjustments. He did in fact do a fair amount of planning. But as noted, the most important thing was to go. Decision made.

Let James Kirk’s story serve as a reminder to you. It all begins with an active decision, followed by action. Will you make your own decision to act?

Lastly, a Note on Urgency

I write a lot about legacy projects, and what I believe is a core need to focus on what we’ll make with the our lives. The related theme to this is urgency, the need to seize the day and make our time count for something.

I’m on the road again now, meeting with fun people every night and hearing good stories of change.

It challenges me. I don’t get every talk right, and I’m tweaking as I go. There are a few things I wished I had done differently in setting up the tour.

But I made the decision, and I’m moving forward. Another day, another city. In the down time I work on other projects, always making a little progress at a time and thinking about the next thing. It’s fun, it’s worth it, and what else would I do? That’s right, nothing.

What decision to act can you make right now?


*It’s official: The $100 Startup is an Instant National Bestseller. Thanks for your support!

The Kindle version is also now available.