The Money Tree by Chris Guillebeau is a novel that serves as a solid introduction to the world of side hustles.
It fits in the genre of ‘business parables’. They are works of fiction designed to impart lessons about life and entrepreneurship.
The writing style of this book is phenomenal. His writing flows well and really drew me into the world Guillebeau created. I found myself strongly relating to the main character, Jake. I’ve been challenged in many of the same areas that he is struggling at the start of the book, so it’s a ray of hope for me personally.
When the book starts, his life seems to be falling apart. His job and relationship are hanging by a thread, and as the story begins, he’s losing his apartment. Jake’s finances are a mess, to the point where his girlfriend has to pay for their anniversary dinner. That’s never a good sign.
It’s at this difficult point in his life that he stumbles upon a group called ‘The Third Way’. This meetup is where a few side-hustlers gather to give each other feedback and encouragement on their endeavors.
In this group, Jake meets Clarence, his future mentor. Clarence guides Jake through the process of developing an idea, learning to make money independently, and creating an ‘offer’ that your customers want.
In order to guide Jake in the right direction, Clarence gives him a series of challenges with short deadlines that force him to take action toward his goal of making money independently.
The first challenge is to make $1000 in a week by selling things that he doesn’t already own. Jake achieves this task by selling items he finds at a yard sale, like textbooks and camera equipment.
Unfortunately, in the real world yard sales are extinct. I asked Chris what a good starting point would be when even going to Goodwill is not an option. He told me that it can be even more effective to search online for products to sell.
He started out looking at Completed Listings on Ebay, to find out what was selling. After that, he would figure out the source of those products. By finding the distributor, he could buy the products at a lower price and sell them for a profit online.
Over the course of the book, Jake faces more challenges, creates a business and pivots towards a product that customers want. The story emphasizes his slow, consistent and arduous progress towards becoming financially independent. His journey wasn’t easy, but it is doable. Chris sprinkles wisdom about productivity and sales throughout the book.
Eventually, Jake’s fortunes improve along with the other areas of his life. It’s amazing how, as he starts making money from his side hustle, it relieves stress and allows him to perform better in his job and be more present in his relationships.
Overall, this book is a well-written and realistic look at what it takes to build a side hustle and actually make money from it. Even as a stand-alone novel, it’s entertaining and original. I’d highly recommend it if you’re curious about how to make money outside of a job. Instead of telling you ‘how to’ make money, he shares a step-by-step example of someone going through the process of starting a side hustle.
After reading the book, I’m excited to dive deeper into the content Chris creates around ‘The Money Tree’. So far, he has been livestreaming a course on Youtube every weekday, as well as producing his ‘Side Hustle School’ podcast. Below is the first segment of the course, which is a great introduction to Guillebeau’s work and The Money Tree.