Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur– by Derek Sivers
November 9, 2018
Derek Sivers might be one of the most interesting people out there. This is an incredible short book, with so many gems and insights, that it’s worth multiple read throughs. While Derek is a humble, self-professed student, not a guru, you will learn a lot from the transparent insights that he shares about his own journey.
So what is it about? Here’s the quick blurb:
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
But honestly, how often do you see an author include his personal contact information and an invitation to reach out, to ask him anything, or just tell him what you’re working on since he’d be glad to help. Hat’s off my you Derek Sivers, humble guru.
#EntrepreneurCat #BusinessPlan #CatBoss
Understand What You Want To Do and Why (Purpose)
Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own. They spend decades in pursuit of something that someone convinced them they should want, without realizing that it won’t make them happy. Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams. You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what’s worth doing.
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 some people, it’s as simple as how much money they make. When their net worth is going up, they know they’re doing well. For others, it’s how much money they give. For some, it’s how many people’s lives they can influence for the better. How do you grade yourself? It’s important to know in advance, to make sure you’re staying focused on what’s honestly important to you, instead of doing what others think you should.
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.
A business plan should never take more than a few hours of work—hopefully no more than a few minutes. The best plans start simple. A quick glance and common sense should tell you if the numbers will work. The rest are details.
Anytime you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from serial entrepreneur Steve Blank: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”
Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy into actually solving real problems for real people. It gives you a stronger foundation to grow from. It eliminates the friction of big infrastructure and gets right to the point. And it will let you change your plan in an instant, as you’re working closely with those first customers telling you what they really need.
We analyzed a business plan for a mail-order pantyhose company. Like all business plans, it proposed only one idea. After reading the whole thing, I felt like saying things my old voice teacher would have said: “OK, make a plan that requires only $1,000. Go!” “Now make a plan for ten times as many customers. Go!” “Now do it without a website. Go!” “Now make all your initial assumptions wrong, and have it work anyway. Go!” “Now show how you would franchise it. Go!” You can’t pretend there’s only one way to do it. Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans.
no matter what business you’re in, it’s good to prepare for what would happen if business doubled. Have ten clients now? How would it look if you had twenty at once? Serving eighty customers for lunch each day? What would happen if 160 showed up? Notice that “more of the same” is never the answer. You’d have to do things in a new way to handle twice as much business. Processes would have to be streamlined.
Always Be Consumer Focused:
Never forget that 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. If you’re ever unsure what to prioritize, just ask your customers the open-ended question, “How can I best help you now?” Then focus on satisfying those requests.
It’s counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.
please don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.
To me, it was just common sense. Of course you should care about your customers more than you care about yourself! Isn’t that Rule No. 1 of providing a good service? It’s all about them, not about you. That’s the Tao of business: Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well.
Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company. Over ten years, it seemed like every time someone raved about how much he loved CD Baby, it was because of one of these little fun human touches.
Be Specific In Who You Are Serving (You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone)
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. If most of your customers love what you do, but one doesn’t, you can just say good-bye and wish him the best, with no hard feelings.
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.
Create Your Own Rules. It’s Your Business:
Whatever you make, it’s your creation, so make it your personal dream come true.
The key point is that 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. When you make it a dream come true for yourself, it’ll be a dream come true for someone else, too.
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. As your business grows, don’t let the leeches sucker you into all that stuff they pretend you need. They’ll play on your fears, saying that you need this stuff to protect yourself against lawsuits. They’ll scare you with horrible worst-case scenarios. But those are just sales tactics. You don’t need any of it.
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.
Constraints Don’t Have to Hold You Back:
By not having any money to waste, you never waste money. Since I couldn’t afford a programmer, I went to the bookstore and got a $25 book on PHP and MySQL programming. Then I sat down and learned it, with no programming experience. Necessity is a great teacher.
Constantly Work to Improve Your Service/ Product:
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing.
When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts and come up with world-changing massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you. Little things make all the difference 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.
Execution is Everything:
Ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
Wise Words / Rules to Live By:
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!”
It’s another Tao of business: Set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way.
When one customer wrongs you, remember the hundred thousand who did not. You’re lucky to own your own business. Life is good. You can’t prevent bad things from happening. Learn to shrug. Resist the urge to punish everyone for one person’s mistake.
When we yell at our car or our coffee machine, it’s fine because they’re just mechanical appliances. So when we yell at a website or a company, using our computer or our phone, we forget that it’s not an appliance but a person that’s affected. It’s dehumanizing to have thousands of people passing through our computer screens, so we do things we’d never do if those people were sitting next to us. It’s too overwhelming to remember that at the end of every computer is a real person, a lot like you, whose birthday was last week, who has three best friends but nobody to spoon at night, and who is personally affected by what you say.
In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have. To have something (a finished recording, a business, or millions of dollars) is the means, not the end. To be something (a good singer, a skilled entrepreneur, or just plain happy) is the real point. When you sign up to run a marathon, you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.