Best known for creating CD Baby, the most popular music site for independent artists, founder Derek Sivers chronicles his “accidental” success and failures into this concise and inspiring book on how to create a multi-million dollar company by following your passion. In Anything You Want, Sivers details his journey and the lessons learned along the way of creating CD Baby and building a business close to his heart. His less-scripted approach to business is refreshing and will educate readers to feel empowered to follow their own dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs and others trying to make their own way will be particularly comforted by Sivers straight talk and transparency -a reminder that anything you want is within your reach.
The key things I learned from this book were:
* Keep things simple. Implement a model and then persistently improve over and over again.
* A reminder about the principle of being a hell yes or no to things – when you say no to things, you create room for the things you are a hell yes to. I’ve learned this to be true in many spaces of my life. To create a client who is a 10, you also need to be effective at repelling anyone who isn’t. To do things you are a HELL YES to, you need to get really clear about your HELL NO.
* “No business plan survives first contact with customers” Steve Blank.
* Necessity is a great teacher
* Everything in your business should be about your customers. Every choice you make, every decision as owner, every task you agenda, every meeting. Focus on that and things will grow. Just thrill them, and they will tell everyone.
* I loved the story he told about quitting a job, feeling bad he was leaving so he trained & hired a replacement before he did, not knowing that that wasn’t standard practice. “Deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do”.
* Never forget that someone else loves doing what you hate, you can make your role anything you want, you just need to remember why you do it – you do it to make you happy!
* Execution is worth more than any idea.
* Have lots of little clients instead of one big one. Definitely something I’m implementing right now in my social enterprise.
* What you are doing is just ONE way of doing things. You want to test & try different ways, and not be stuck to one method.
In business, there are different ways:
– make a plan without any funding
– make your whole business offline
– make a franchise model
In life, there are different ways:
– You could be living in NY obsessed with making lots of money
– You could be a free spirit backpacking around SE Asia
– You could be a monk meditating in isolation in the mountains
– You could be married living your family in a quiet neighbourhood
There is no one way. Things change. Things work for different people at different times. Be open to change. Embrace and roll with it.
* There’s not always a need for a huge vision. You can focus on helping people today. Instead of thinking about “if I had X.. I could do Y”. A trap I notice many people fall into
* Add lots of fun human touches to your company. Everywhere. From the email auto-responder to the copy on your site, to your office layout. It’s OK to be casual & human. Focus on what makes you happy and doing things in a way that makes you happy.
* When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.
* There’s lots of nudges towards keeping things simple, here’s another – a business plan shouldn’t take more than a few hours of work. Hopefully no more than a few minutes, the best plans are simple. A quick glance, and common sense should tell you if the numbers will work. Everything else is details.
* Never make promises you can’t deliver on. Under promise & over deliver instead of the other way around.
* Delegate or die. Trust but verify. Delegate but not abdicate
* Once something works, it will feel freeing, not strenuous. Sivers mentions how he spent 12 years doing different things, it felt like it was uphill all the time then suddenly it was like he struck a hit. Instead of trying to create demand, you’re trying to manage the demand. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not persistently doing what is not working. So you should always be trying, tweaking, testing new ideas instead of stubbornly pushing the same one again and again.