Build Your Own Small Business Empire in One Year: Empire Building Kit

Do you have a small business you want to take to the next level? Or are you full of business ideas but lack the knowledge or motivation to execute them? Either way, if you’re ready to create your own small business empire, then the Empire Building Kit may be the tool to help you do it — and all in a year or less.

I’ve long been a fan of Chris Guillebeau, whose blog motivates thousands of people to take their lives into their own hands, and whose mission to visit every country in the world before turning 35 is of special interest to me.

He’s also written a number of useful e-books, including The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself, and Frequent Flyer Master, which I’ve reviewed here on Wise Bread.

Now, he’s taken his empire-building business tactics to a new level with the Empire Building Kit. It is a one-year program designed to give you a boost to turn your business idea into a highly profitable machine that allows you to live the life you want, doing something you love to do.

Who Should Apply

You don’t need any specific skills or expertise, but you must be motivated to make a positive change in your life and business. I think the purchase price alone will weed out the serious from the not-so-serious, if you ask me.

In Chris’s words, you “must be prepared to work hard, make wise decisions, and make today slightly better than yesterday”. To that end, the Empire Building Kit is built on the idea that you can’t build an empire overnight, which is why it is a one-year program. Doing a little bit every day is an incredibly successful way of getting to where you need to go, especially if your goal initially seems overwhelming (and starting a business that makes six figures from scratch is nothing if not overwhelming).

Chris wants customers who are “ready to build a sustainable lifestyle business doing what they love — for customers who love them right back”.

What’s Included

(As you’ll see below there are three levels of membership; your membership choice dictates how much of the information below you have access to).

One Year of Daily Emails with Tangible Steps to Take — Your daily dose of empire-wisdom will arrive in your inbox, with a small but tangible step to get your empire under way. I’ve been receiving the daily emails for a short time now, and find that some days are simply food for thought (albeit pretty serious goal-setting food, mind you), and other days direct you to certain case studies or videos (see below). Each day has a bite-sized action you can take to build your empire — one step at a time.

Case Studies — Available to you in PDF, audio, video, or transcript formats. These case studies are of people who have their own sustainable lifestyle businesses, earning $50,000 to $150,000 in net annual income (net!) with no more than three employees. They include dog walkers, murder mystery party hosts, fitness trainers, artists, and freelancers. They bare all, including information on their marketing, operations, and finances, and include actionable advice for how you can emulate their tactics.

The Unconventional Guides Journey — Chris also shares his own unconventional journey, including all the sales figures and stats for his business, mistakes made along the way, and techniques he used to boost business by 25%. I found some of these videos particularly interesting, including his description of what tools he uses and how.

Recording of a Webinar — During the pre-launch of the Empire Building Kit, Chris conducted a live webinar with the attendees, in which he answered any and all questions. This is available for new “Emperors” to view.

43-Step Product Launch Checklist — This 4 page PDF document is a step-by-step checklist of what to do to make a product launch successful with minimal hiccups.

My Take

I’ve been receiving the daily emails for a while, and some are more useful than others. I appreciate the progression that the emails guide you through, and although you can view/read any component when you wish, the course material is chronologically laid out and makes the most sense if reviewed in order. I really like how the course is designed to take one year to go through; and I can already see that if you actually do your “homework”, you can go places.


Some of the highlights that I’ve enjoyed learning so far include the following:

  • Learning some of Chris’s tactics to reduce refund requests.
  • An illustration of cross-selling in a way that doesn’t seem underhanded.
  • Tips for service providers to increase sales.
  • Watching the video interviews with other successful business people; some have taken fairly unconventional ideas and made them work. Watching them talk informally also helps me to realize they’re just “normal people”, which makes doing what they do seem all the more achievable.


Although you don’t need to have a business in place already, it helps to have direction or at least some ideas before getting the course. I think this course can best help somebody develop their idea into a business and/or increase profitability of an existing business. If all you have is a vague notion of wanting to be in business for yourself, you may not get as much from the course. (Then again, if what you lack in ideas or structure you make up for in motivation, then you can be an exception to this rule).

Knowing Chris and the admirable empire he’s built for himself, I believe that he can help other people do the same thing by sharing everything he knows (and he’s very transparent and honest about his business), as well as the success stories (and learning experiences) of 15 other successful businesses.


Like I said, I think the hefty price will weed out the business-building-window-shoppers from those truly serious about building on their business ideas. It’s easy to buy an inexpensive e-book and not really take its contents seriously; reading it quickly and not truly applying the advice therein. But if you pay a larger sum of money, you’ll be more dedicated to getting value from it. I’m not saying this to justify a higher price than is reasonable; rather I think there’s value here, but it’s up to you to decide if you’re ready to make that leap. There must be a commitment to taking your business (or business idea) to the next level if you’re going to see its worth.

There are three levels of participation in the Empire Building Kit:

Emperor-in-Training: $149 (includes 10 PDF case studies, 5 video interviews, and daily emails for 1 year)

Hail Caesar: $249 (includes 12 PDF case studies, 7 video interviews, daily emails, and 43-step Product Launch checklist)

Alexander the Great: $449 (this is the whole enchilada, including 15 case studies, 7 video interviews, daily emails, 43step Product Launch checklist, Behind-the-Scenes at Unconventional Guides module, and bonus videos)


Hopefully we’ll see a whole new breed of small business “Emperors” in a year’s time!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review package of the Empire Building Kit, and there are affiliate links in this post.

Average: 3.3 (3 votes)
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Guest's picture

This reads like a commercial. Also, Chris Guillebeau is on Zen Habits today as well... a bit of a media blitz?

"Like I said, I think the hefty price will weed out the business-building-window-shoppers from those truly serious about building on their business ideas." -- Is this supposed to be a dare? Only the truly serious will pay up?

"Anybody who pays for this course is likely to be motivated to devour the material contained herein, and will get the most benefit from it." -- Yep. Only the initiated can benefit. How does one get into this exclusive club? Pay!

I'm not trying to be negative but this tastes like snake oil to me. Next thing you know Wise Bread will be telling me to strategically default on my mortgage. Oh wait...

Nora Dunn's picture

@Guest - I hear you. I guess my enthusiasm for Chris's work is a little too overflowing! (Sorry).

What I meant about "only the serious".... is that a lot of people will see an e-book or product that promises to help you do this or achieve that, and they buy it because it's a nice low price. They quickly sift through the material, learn a lot, but don't truly apply the tips or really give it a second glance. Why? Because it was a nice low price and they somehow figured that osmosis would take care of the rest. When they don't achieve the desired results that the product promises, they may feel a little bit cheated.

When you fork out a larger sum of money though, something happens emotionally - you commit. You've made the financial commitment to the product - and the idea behind it - and so you apply yourself a lot more to learn the lessons contained therein. least that's what I would do...

Guest's picture

This is certainly not an "article" I would expect to see on WiseBread--it is an advertisement. I've never been disappointed with WiseBread before until now. :(

Guest's picture

I used to like Wise Bread. Reduced new post count and affiliate links coupled with "buy now"ism - bleh. In my experience as an internet marketer, these courses are overpriced, impractical (ie they contain no real actionable steps that will help you make money) and designed to benefit only one person - the seller (ok, and his/her affiliates).

Nora Dunn's picture

@Guest (both above) - I am sorry you feel that way. As I continue to go through the course material, I will formulate a more "constructive" review of this course and edit this post above, if that helps. It was a bit of a push to write this post in time for the 24 hour launch, and I didn't have a lot of time to thoroughly review the course material. (What I saw, I liked. What can I say?!)

I wanted Wise Bread readers to have the opportunity to get in on the action (and there are a number who have done so), but it certainly was not my intent to come off as sales-y. I simply wanted to let people know the opportunity is there - and I still believe it's an excellent opportunity. The daily updates are guiding me through a process that is helping me to conquer a few entrepreneurial goals of my own.

Wise Bread relies on its writing team to come up with thought-provoking posts on a variety of topics related to personal finance. This seemed like a good fit. I hope that you both will see fit to continue following!

Nora Dunn's picture

Please note I have updated this post to reflect the discussion in the comments about pricing, as well as to add my personal take on the program now that I've had more time to review the offering. I hope you find this useful.

Guest's picture

I certainly agree that self motivation is the driving force that pushes you to achieve your specific goals especially when it comes to business ideas. Knowledge and idea is nothing without prior deliverance. Execution of good ideas seems a very promising tool in order to gain success in business.

Guest's picture

Looks like a new type of pyramid scheme.

Nora Dunn's picture

@Guest - There's nothing "pyramid-like" in the Empire Building Kit at all! It's not an organization, rather it's simply a product (an educational course) for sale.

For more information on pyramid structures (and multi-level marketing), check out this article: