When Michael Hanna was unexpectedly fired from his 25-year corporate sales career, he didn’t know what to do. While he collected unemployment checks and battled other applicants, his job prospects were bleak. Michael’s only options seemed either to be unemployed or underemployed.


Michael’s business, The Mattress Lot, was opened in a former used car dealership.

So when a friend who owned a furniture store offered to give him a great deal on a truckload of closeout mattresses that he could resell on Craigslist, Michael figured he’d give it a shot. He quickly sold out of his first shipment, then negotiated with the landlord of an empty used car dealership to keep his merchandise there and open up a no-pressure retail mattress store. In a stroke of marketing brilliance, he decided to create an industry-first bicycle mattress delivery service using a custom-made tandem bike and trailer.

Selling mattresses was something Michael had never considered as a viable option to put food on the table, but he couldn’t be happier with how things have worked out. He makes a comfortable income, has no boss, provides a valuable product and service and gets a good workout in every day to boot.

You can see Michael tell his story in this TEDx Talk.

What’s exciting is that Michael’s story is not entirely unique, and author Chris Guillebeau has literally written the book on this growing trend—and how to become part of it. If you need inspiration for starting a business and escaping corporate obscurity, this is a great place to start. In The $100 Startup, Chris tells the stories of many individuals like Michael who took a chance in starting a small business—or microbusinesses, as Chris calls them. Some, like Michael, created something from nothing out of necessity. Others started their businesses to branch out and try something new. All started for less than $1,000, and they each generate at least $50,000 in income per year for their owners.

But Chris doesn’t just tell happy stories of microbusiness success. He also dissects these stories to share the commonalities and trends that have made them successful. In this 300-page how-to guide, Chris offers insights and step-by-step directions for would-be microbusiness entrepreneurs.

A word of advice, however: don’t be a wantrepreneur. If you already have a shelf full of business books, owning another book isn’t in itself going to make a difference. (I’ve been guilty of this self-delusion myself.) If this sounds familiar, don’t buy this book unless you make a commitment to someone that you really are going to a) read it and b) take action to break your paycheck addiction by starting a business. Ultimately, you, and no one else, are responsible for starting your business. Starting a business can be intimidating, but this book may help to assuage your fears and inspire you to action.

Have you read The $100 Startup? What did you think of it? Did it spark any ideas for starting a microbusiness? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.