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Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Anything You Want

RATING: 9/10…READ: July 1, 2011

A very quick read by CD Baby founder Derek Sivers who chronicles his business and life lessons. A small little book that packs a lot of punch; one of my favorite books on entrepreneurship.

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Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself

Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself

When you make a company, you make a utopia, it’s where you design your perfect world.

Never do anything just for the money

Don’t pursue business just for your own game. Only answer the calls for help

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.

Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people

You cant please everyone, so proudly exclude 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.

“Revolution” is a term that people use only when you’re successful. Before that, you’re just a quirky person who does things differently.

If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightening bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you.

If you think revolution needs to feel like war, you’ll overlook the importance of simply serving people better.

We all have lots of ideas, creations and projects. When you present one to the world, and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as-is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

If you’re not saying “FUCK YEAH!” about something, say “no.”

Every event you get invited to. Every request to start a new project. If you’re not saying “FUCK YEAH!” about it, say “no.”

Steve Blank: No plan survives first contact with 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.

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, with only 1 percent of what you have in your grand vision:

-For example, let’s say you have a vision of making an international chain of enlightened modern schools. You picture it as a huge, world-changing organization, with hundreds of employees, dozens of offices, and expensive technology. But instead of waiting for that, you start by teaching somebody something this week. Find someone who will pay to learn something, meet him anywhere, and begin. It will be nothing but you, a student, and a notebook, but you’ll be in business, and you can grow it from there.

Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy on actually solving real problems for real people.

Execution is worth millions:

AWFUL IDEA = -1

WEAK IDEA = 1

SO-SO IDEA = 5

GOOD IDEA = 10

GREAT IDEA = 15

BRILLIANT IDEA = 20

NO EXECUTION = $1

WEAK EXECUTION = $1000

SO-SO EXECUTION = $10,000

GOOD EXECUTION = $100,000

GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000

BRILLIANT EXECUTION = $10,000,000

The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000

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.

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.

Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans.

Please 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?

How do you grade yourself?

-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 people, it’s how many people’s lives they can influence for the better

-For others, it’s how deeply they can influence just a few people’s lives.

A business is started to solve a problem. But if the problem was truly solved, that business would no longer be needed.

Set up business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way.

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.

Don’t try to be bigger, be “goofier.” Thrill people with tiny details. Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company.

Don’t try to impress an invisible jury of MBA professors. It’s OK to be casual. “Anyone have a friend who’s good with Linux? Yeah? Is he cool? OK, tell him to start tomorrow.”

There’s a huge benefit to being naïve about the norms of the world—deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.

Never be the typical tragic small business that gets frazzled and freaked out when business is doing well. Prepare to double.

On being, not having: yes, it may take longer. Yes, it may be inefficient. Yes, it may even cost you millions of dollars in lost opportunities because your business is growing slower because you insist on doing something yourself…but the whole point of doing anything is because it makes you happy.

Develop a loose system/script (without being a robot) that employees can follow for similar occurrences…if it cost less than $100, than do what you feel is necessary, etc.

Trust when delegating, but always verify they deliver.

-Some people want to be billionaires with thousands of employees. Some people want to work alone.