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Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur Hardcover – September 15, 2015
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You can follow the beaten path and call yourself an entrepreneur or you can blaze your own trail and really be one. When Derek Sivers started CD Baby, he wasn t planning on building a major business. He was a successful independent musician who just wanted to sell his CDs online. When no one would help him do it, he set out on his own and built an online store from scratch. He started in 1998 by helping his friends sell their CDs. In 2000, he hired his first employee. Eight years later, he sold CD Baby for $22 million. Sivers didn t need a business plan, and neither do you. You don t need to think big; in fact, it s better if you don t. Start with what you have, care about your customers more than yourself, and run your business like you don t need the money."
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I was brought to this book through Seth Godin's Blog. It was an excellent read to me because it seemed to be a very honest and realistic discourse. The points of inspiration in this book are not Pollyanna-ish in the least. Sivers made errors, retreated, emerged, retreated again and then emerged again. Ups and downs. No smooth path. And he relates it very clearly.
I have built a successful business over the past 7 years but I have not enjoyed the ride. I am always looking to the end. But now that things are much better, I look back and see that I could have really enjoyed the process much more, and really it is the process that is the juice for me.
Sivers distills this very very well in writing about his experiences. Reading this has shaken me up tonight and brought to the forefront of my mind thoughts that I need to make some serious changes finally that will make me happier and my business more successful.
Thank you Derek Sivers for this book!
Derek does an outstanding job simplifying the lessons through his life and business experience. Here's a couple key points that hit home:
1. It should NEVER be about the money. If you're in a business or pursuing a dream for the money chase, that chase will lead you down the wrong path.
2. It's always about the customer. Whenever making a business decision, Derek always asks what would the customer say about this decision I'm making. So many cool stories of the simple small things Derek did that his customers loved.
3. Business (or lifestyle) should be based around what you want. It should be your utopia, too many entrepreneurs try to please other people, investors, etc. and lose sight of what really matter to them. Derek explains this process through his incredible business journey.
Thank you Derek for bring this book to the world!!
I agree that customers > everything but everything else is great for his character.
I am giving it 4 stars because I like Derek's blog and the work he has done for his customers and not really for the book.
"Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself."
"Never do anything just for the money."
"Don't pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer calls for help."
"Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what's not working."
"For an idea to get big it has to be useful and being useful does not need funding. Start now with a humble prototype of your big vision and you will be in the game."
"Make every decision--whether to expand the business, raise money, promote someone--according to what's best for your customers."
In some ways he built CD Baby while he was on his way to somewhere else. The first part of the book is a portrait of an artist as a young entrepreneur. Sivers' fundamental goal--as he states repeatedly--was not to become a successful entrepreneur. He wanted to be a singer in a rock and roll band and continued to take vocal lessons and play in bands. The very first iteration of CD Baby was just designed to sell his own band's CDs until other musicians asked him for help when learned he had solved the on-line distribution problem for himself.
He details how at various points he had unwittingly given his father 90% of the company for a token amount of money, he had delegated so much authority to his employees that they designed a profit sharing plan that allocated all of the profits to their profit sharing plan, and he didn't come to company headquarters much in later years.
I don't think this detracts from his observations about what was required to get CD Baby off the ground and up to a several million dollars a year run rate.