The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future - Chris Guillebeau (2012)
FISH STORIES APPENDIX
Twenty-Five Selected Case Studies
In Chapter 2, we met Barbara and John Varian, owners of the V6 Ranch in California. Barbara could have described her business in a typical fashion: “We have a ranch. People pay to visit and ride horses.” Instead, she said something much more powerful: “We help our guests become someone else, even if just for a day. Come stay with us and you’ll be a cowboy.” The difference between these two statements is huge! The first statement is merely descriptive, whereas the second evokes a powerful, emotional connection.
Like the V6 Ranch, every business has a way to describe itself in a traditional (i.e., boring) way and at least one much sexier way that stimulates a better response. There are two keys to remember in figuring out the difference for your own project:
1. Give people what they really want. Give them the fish!
2. Sell emotional benefits (“Be a cowboy”) instead of descriptive features (“Ride horses”).
Here are twenty-five people from the study, all of whom found ways to differentiate between something merely descriptive and something that evokes a more passionate response.
Name: JASON GLASPEY
Business: Paleo Plan
Fact-Based Description: Weekly diet and recipe planning guide
Emotion-Based Promise: Take control of your health by eating naturally (and leave the details to us).
Name: BROOKE THOMAS
Business: Practice Abundance
Fact-Based Description: Course on running a wellness practice
Emotion-Based Promise: Increase profits while running a smoother, more streamlined clinic.
Name: PURNA DUGGIRALA
Business: Spreadsheet templates
Fact-Based Description: Templates to help frequent users of Microsoft Excel
Emotion-Based Promise: Become an office superhero: Help your colleagues and get your work done quickly.
Name: SELENA CUFFE
Business: Heritage Link Brands
Fact-Based Description: Wine imported from South Africa
Emotion-Based Promise: Drink great wine and feel good about supporting minority-owned vineyards.
Name: PATRICK MCCRANN
Business: Endurance Nation
Fact-Based Description: Group triathlon training
Emotion-Based Promise: You’re not alone! Join a supportive community of amateur athletes.
Name: BRANDY AGERBECK
Business: Graphic facilitation
Fact-Based Description: Visual documentation of meetings
Emotion-Based Promise: Capture your group’s big ideas in a fun way that will ensure a long-term impact.
Name: HEATHER ALLARD
Business: The Mogul Mom
Fact-Based Description: Resources for “mom entrepreneurs”
Emotion-Based Promise: Stay home with your kids and earn a good income without going into debt.
Name: JONATHAN PINCAS
Business: Tapas Lunch Company
Fact-Based Description: UK-based importer of Spanish foods
Emotion-Based Promise: Viva España! Celebrate the Mediterranean lifestyle without leaving home.
Name: REESE SPYKERMAN
Business: Design by Reese
Fact-Based Description: Website and graphic design
Emotion-Based Promise: Your brand is more than a website. We’ll help you tell a story that communicates your core mission.
Name: MICHAEL TRAINER
Business: Reckoning Studios
Fact-Based Description: Media production
Emotion-Based Promise: We’ll document your organization’s mission in a short, professionally produced video.
Name: ALYSON STANFIELD
Business: Stanfield Art Associates
Fact-Based Description: Consulting for artists
Emotion-Based Promise: Attention, artists: Get paid to make the art you love. I’ll show you how.
Name: ELIZABETH MACCRELLISH
Business: Squam Art Workshops
Fact-Based Description: Weekend retreats for artists and crafters
Emotion-Based Promise: Make art in a beautiful lakeside setting with an intimate group of friends.
Name: JESSICA REAGAN SALZMAN
Business: Heart Based Bookkeeping
Fact-Based Description: Bookkeeping and tax preparation services
Emotion-Based Promise: I’ll worry about your money stuff so you can spend time running your business.
Name: KAREN STARR
Business: Hazel Tree Interiors
Fact-Based Description: Interior design services
Emotion-Based Promise: Make your home a restful sanctuary, a place your whole family enjoys.
Name: SARAH YOUNG
Business: Happy Knits
Fact-Based Description: Retail shop that sells yarn
Emotion-Based Promise: Knitting is fun! Come in to learn, restock, knit, or just hang out.
Name: ERICA COSMINSKY
Business: The Small Business Transcriptionist
Fact-Based Description: Service provider that transcribes calls and meetings
Emotion-Based Promise: Capture important information that your customers will value, with basic formatting and layout included at no additional charge.
Name: AKIRA MORITA
Business: Design Kompany
Fact-Based Description: Regional leader in design services
Emotion-Based Promise: You’ll get the best service from our family-owned shop, and we won’t finish until you’re 100 percent satisfied.
Name: DAVID WACHTENDONK
Business: Murder Mystery Maniacs
Fact-Based Description: Group event planner
Emotion-Based Promise: Leave the party planning to us. We’ll bring a fun experience to your group or organization.
Name: EMILY CAVALIER
Business: Mouth of the Border
Fact-Based Description: Ethnic food reviews and “midnight brunch” group experience
Emotion-Based Promise: Have fun, eat good food, and spend time with friends during a unique evening.
Name: RIDLON KIPHART
Business: Live Adventurously
Fact-Based Description: Group tours to exotic destinations
Emotion-Based Promise: Live adventurously by joining us for the trip of a lifetime.
Name: KRISTIN MCNAMARA
Business: SLO Op Climbing
Fact-Based Description: Community gym and climbing center
Emotion-Based Promise: Learn a new, challenging skill in a safe, community-centered environment.
Name: SCOTT MCMURREN
Business: Alaska TourSaver
Fact-Based Description: Coupon books for independent visitors to Alaska
Emotion-Based Promise: You’ll recoup your entire investment by using just one of our coupons—leaving you with 200 more to get the best possible discounts.
Name: JEN LEMEN
Business: Mondo Beyondo
Fact-Based Description: Online life planning course
Emotion-Based Promise: Learn to turn big dreams into reality in a fun, closed environment with other women.
Name: JEN ADRION
Business: These Are Things
Fact-Based Description: Online store that sells maps
Emotion-Based Promise: Our maps will help you remember where you’ve been and dream of where you’re going.
Name: CODY LIMBAUGH
Fact-Based Description: Personal training and exercise plans
Emotion-Based Promise: Want to get in shape but keep falling off the wagon? I’ll help … and it will actually be fun.
Note: Some of these businesses are operated by co-owners or another form of partnership. To simplify, I’ve listed the primary contact I talked with during my research.
There’s an old saying about the combined knowledge of the pope and a peasant being greater than the knowledge of only the pope. In this case, I felt like the peasant learning from one hundred popes. After a decade of fumbling along, I know how to operate my own business, but crafting a narrative around the lessons of so many other people required me to learn much more than I could contribute by myself.
The hundred-plus case studies I focused on for the final draft (as well as the 1,400 other people who submitted stories and info) deserve my greatest thanks. They were patient with my numerous surveys, requests for additional info, and continual follow-ups. Being willing to share financial information about their business was especially generous. I had planned to gently push for access to finances if needed, but in most cases I didn’t have to push—almost everyone was willing and open to share whatever information would help others.
I do most of my other writing without access to an outside editor, a situation which has numerous advantages, but also a key disadvantage: Sometimes I get tired and take the easy way out. Fortunately, that strategy wasn’t an option here, all thanks to Rick Horgan, leader of the Crown team that published the book. Rick worked diligently and held my feet to the fire time after time, making for a much better finished product. I’m also grateful to Tina Constable and everyone else at Crown, and to my tireless literary agent, David Fugate.
Dave Navarro first gave me the analogy of a product launch being like a Hollywood movie. Jason Fried was the first person I heard say “Failure is overrated.” I’ve undoubtedly borrowed other concepts and ideas, so if I’ve stolen your idea, consider it an act of unintentional flattery.
I continue to learn every day from Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, friends and colleagues in the LifeRemix network, Scott Harrison, Gary Parker, and Susan Parker.
Jolie Guillebeau, my wife and chief proofreader, patiently endured repeated discussions about hustling and bad franchises. Many sections of the book were greatly improved thanks to her insight. Critical readings of the text were further accompanied by my four-pawed assistant Libby (aka “The Liberator”). Libby is also responsible for moderating comments on my blog—a tough job for someone who sleeps approximately twenty-two hours a day.
Wherever I go, I work closely with Reese Spykerman, superstar designer, and Nicky Hajal, genius developer. On this project, I’m also grateful for the collaboration with Mike Rohde, who made the fun illustrations you can see throughout this book. Special thanks to Stephanie D. Zito for last-minute cover-art consultation.
Every summer, the World Domination Summit action team puts on a weekend adventure like no other, and I’m thrilled to be along for the ride. All of my work is for and sustained by the AONC community, which greatly inspires me with their stories of change and adventure.
Finally, I offer my appreciation and gratitude to you, the reader. I hope you found these pages worthwhile. Feel free to let me know about your own search for freedom and value by writing in from chrisguillebeau.com or saying hi on Twitter (@chrisguillebeau).