Anything You Want
May 01, 2016
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers is a powerful little book offering valuable uncommon sense advice on how to approach business in alignment with your values and beliefs. In about an hour reading time, Derek Sivers candidly tells us everything he learned from founding, operating and selling CD Baby, the business he stumbled upon when he decided to help fellow musicians sell their work on the Internet in the pre-Paypal, pre-iTunes days.
My Highlights and Notes:
"You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what's worth doing."
"Business is not about money. It's about making dreams come true for others and for yourself."
"Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what's not working."
"Your business plan is moot. You don't know what people really want until you start doing it."
"You don't need money to start helping people."
"Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business."
"The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy."
"I wasn't trying to make a big business. I was just daydreaming about how one little thing would look in a perfect world.'
'When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia."
"A business plan should never take more than a few hours of work.'
'The best plans start simple. A quick glance and common sense should tell you if the numbers will work. The rest are details."
"Revolution is a term that people use only when you're successful. Before that, you're just a quirky person who does things differently."
"Present each new idea or improvement to the world. If multiple people are saying, "Wow! Yes! I need this! I'd be happy to pay you to do this!" then you should probably do it. But if the response is anything less, don't pursue it."
'If you're not saying "HELL YEAH!" about something, say "no.""
"When you say "no" to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say "HELL YEAH!""
"Any time you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from Steve Blank: No plan survives first contact with customers."
"By not having any money to waste, you never waste money."
"Absolutely everything you do is for your customers."
"Make every decision-even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone-according to what's best for your customers."
'None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them."
'The way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they'll tell everyone.'
"For an idea to get big big big, it has to be useful. And being useful doesn't need funding."
"If you want to be useful, you can always start now."
"Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy on actually solving real problems for real people."
'Ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions."
"Never forget that there are thousands of businesses, like Jim's Fish Bait Shop in a shack on a beach somewhere, that are doing just fine without corporate formalities."
"If you do land the big client, that organization will practically own you."
"By trying so hard to please the big client, you will lose touch with what the rest of the world wants. Instead, imagine that you have designed your business to have NO big clients, just lots of little clients."
"When you build your business on serving thousands of customers, not dozens, you don't have to worry about any one customer leaving or making special demands."
'You need to confidently exclude people, and proudly say what you're not. By doing so, you will win the hearts of the people you want."
"It's a big world. You can loudly leave out 99 percent of it."
"Have the confidence to know that when your target 1 percent hears you excluding the other 99 percent, the people in that 1 percent will come to you because you've shown how much you value them."
"No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans."
'Don't think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today."
"Never forget why you're really doing what you're doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn't that enough?"
"We all grade ourselves by different measures: For me, it's how many useful things I create, whether songs, companies, articles, websites, or anything else."
"A business is started to solve a problem. But if the problem was truly solved, that business would no longer be needed! So the business accidentally or unconsciously keeps the problem around so that they can keep solving it for a fee."
"Any business that's in business to sell you a cure is motivated not to focus on prevention."
"Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you'll do well."
"If you set up your business like you don't need the money, people are happier to pay you."
"When someone's doing something for the money, people can sense it, like a desperate lover. It's a turnoff."
"You can't prevent bad things from happening. Learn to shrug."
"It's often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you."
"If you find even the smallest way to make people smile, they'll remember you more for that smile than for all your other fancy business-model stuff."
'It's almost impossible to tell what someone's going to be like on the job until he's actually on the job for a few weeks. So I'd hire lightly and fire lightly."
"Don't try to impress an invisible jury of MBA professors. It's OK to be casual."
"There's a benefit to being naive about the norms of the world: deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do."
"No matter what business you're in, it's good to prepare for what would happen if business doubled. "More of the same" is never the answer. You'd have to do things in a new way to handle twice as much business."
"It's about being, not having."
"The whole point of doing anything is because it makes you happy! That's it!"
"I never again promised a customer that I could do something that was beyond my full control."
'I got myself into the delegation mindset. I had to make myself unnecessary to the running of my company."
"There's a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles. To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left."
"You can make your role anything you want it to be."
"Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find that person and let him do it."
"Huge growth means lots of meetings, investors, bankers, media, and answering to others. It's quite far from the real core of the business."
"Doesn't every business want to be as big as possible? No. Make sure you know what makes you happy, and don't forget it."
"Trust, but verify. Remember it when delegating. You have to do both. Delegate, but don't abdicate."
"There's such a thing as over-delegation. I had empowered my employees so much that I gave them all the power. After a complete communication breakdown, it was eight-five people (my employees) against one (me)."
"I learned an important word: abdicate. To abdicate means to surrender or relinquish power or responsibility; this word is usually used when a king abdicates the throne or crown. Lesson learned too late: Delegate, but don't abdicate."
"I realized that the bigger learning and growing challenge for me was letting go, not staying on."
"I let two companies bid, and ended up choosing the one that bid the lowest but understood my clients better."
"The less I own, the happier I am. The lack of stuff gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere anytime. It's not that I'm altruistic. I'm sacrificing nothing. I've just learned what makes me happy."
"You make your perfect world. Business is as creative as the fine arts. You can be as unconventional, unique, and quirky as you want. A business is a reflection of the creator."
"No matter which goal you choose, there will be lots of people telling you you're wrong. Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay close attention to when you're being the real you and when you're trying to impress an invisible jury."
"If it makes you happy, that's OK. It's your choice to remain small."