Anything You Want - Derek Sivers

Anything You Want - Derek Sivers

What do you need to start a business? Do you need a visionary plan? Do you need a brilliant team? High funding? In this summary, we will show that generosity can help along this path.

In a new business, you can simply call yourself an entrepreneur or you can go your own way and really be unique.

In "Anything You Want", Derek Sivers tells the story of when he started his company, "CD Baby". At first, he didn't think about building a big business, he was just an independent musician who just wanted to sell his CD online.

He had no support from anyone, left alone, and built an online store from scratch. Eight years later he sold the same store for millions of dollars.

Sivers didn't need a big business plan and you won't either!

About the book "Anything You Want"

The book "Anything You Want" tells the story of the creation of the online store that satisfied two needs of Derek Sivers, the passion for music and the desire to sell his songs in a faster and simpler way.

The book has 88 pages and is divided into 40 short chapters. Despite its small size, it manages to cover all content.

About the author Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers is an American writer, programmer, musician, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and former president of CD Baby.

He has been a professional musician since 1987 and worked directly in the company he created for approximately 10 years.

Five years after selling CD Baby, he created a new company that publishes guides on how to start new companies in countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

To whom is this book indicated?

The content of the book "Anything You Want" is suitable for anyone looking to be a successful entrepreneur, regardless of the size of their company.

After all, be "whatever you want".

Main ideas of the book "Anything You Want"

  • You don't have to think big to be successful in your business;
  • Start with what you have;
  • Care more about your customers than about yourself;
  • Manage your business as if you didn't need money;
  • Do only things that make you happy.

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[Book Summary] Anything You Want - Derek Sivers

Overview: What is your purpose?

Most people don't know why they are doing what they are doing. They only imitate others, follow the flow, and follow paths without creating their own.

You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what is worth doing.

Sivers calls out that we should not focus on turning business just into money. The focus should be on making dreams come true for others and for yourself.

To be persistent. Success comes from persistent improvement and innovation, not the persistent promotion of something that isn't working.

Selling your product

In 1997, Sivers was a professional musician who just played music in various locations around the USA and Europe. He says that after making a CD of his songs, he started selling copies at his shows.

However, he wanted to sell it online and there were no companies that sold independent music online. The only way to put the CD in online stores was through a major distributor.

Distributors were not easy to obtain and were reputed to pick up thousands of CDs and pay only a year later, or even not pay at all.

After so many negative responses, Sivers decided to set up his own online CD store.

There were several hardships faced until finding out how to build an online shopping cart. After many trials and errors, in 1997 he had the "Buy now" button on his website. The online CD company was created.

Overview: "Make a dream come true"

When he told his friends that were also musicians, one of them asked if he could sell his CD too, and so Derek promptly did.

News from the online store for independent musicians soon spread to several other friends and was taking up a lot of time.

He had accidentally created a business and but didn't want to start one. He wanted to live his musical dream without distractions, and so he wrote a distribution contract in an unambitious way.

Called it CD Baby and put his friends' CDs there.

A two-digit business model

Derek had no idea what to charge for services and sought information from physical stores. He started by charging an installation fee of $25 per album and realized that if it increased to $35 he could make room for discounts and still make a profit.

And so, six years and $10 million later, those double digits were the only source of income for the company.

Overview: The importance of persistence

Before the success of CD Baby, Derek Sivers spent twelve years trying to promote his projects, all approaches to marketing. It always felt like an uphill battle, trying to open locked doors. He made progress, but only with massive effort.

But it had been different now. Suddenly the locked doors opened and success came.

"Success comes from persistent improvement and invention, not persistence in doing what isn't working."

Overview: Change of plans

Sivers says in "Anything You Want", that at the beginning of CD Baby, he thought it would be just a credit card processing service. It was supposed to be a website that musicians would use to say "Go over there to buy my CD."

A week after the site launched, a person asked about new launches and Derek had not realized that people were seeing his business as a store. And that was how the first change in his business occurred.

Five years later, Apple contacted him asking to be a digital distributor.

And so, the business plan has completely changed again.

According to Steve Blank's quote:

"No business plan survives the first contact with the customer."

Never forget that everything you do is for your customers. Make all decisions - even decisions about expanding your business, raising money or promoting someone - according to what is best for your customers.

Overview: Start now

"Anything You Want" warns us: be careful when someone says they want to do something big. This usually means that whoever said this is more in love with the idea of being too big than actually doing something useful. And being useful does not require funding.

If you want to be useful, you can always start now. You will be ahead of the rest of the people because it really started, while others are waiting for the finish line to magically appear at the start line.

Put 100% of your energy into solving real problems for real people, it gives you a stronger foundation for you to grow.

This will allow you to change your plan in an instant, while working closely with the first customers, saying what they really need.

Ideas are worthless

Unless they are executed, ideas are worthless, they are just a multiplier of execution. Here's the explanation:

  • Idea: -1
  • weak idea: 1
  • reasonable idea: 5
  • Good idea: 10
  • Great idea: 15
  • Brilliant Idea: 20
  • No execution: $1
  • Poor execution: $1, 000
  • Reasonable execution: $10, 000
  • Good execution: $100, 000
  • Great execution: $1, 000, 000
  • Brilliant execution: $10, 000, 000

To make a deal, the two factors need to be multiplied.

For example, the most brilliant idea, without execution, is worth just $20. So Derek Sivers says: don't be interested in the ideas until you see their execution.

Overview: Small customers

Most small business owners think of having big companies like Apple, Google, as customers. However, this approach has many problems:

  • You need to customize your product to please very few specific people;
  • These people can change their mind or leave the company;
  • If you get the big customer, he practically has you;
  • When trying to please the big customer, you lose touch with what the rest of the world wants.

Instead, Derek asks us to imagine if we designed our company to not have big customers, just a lot of small customers.

When you develop your business, serving thousands of customers and not tens, you don't have to worry about a customer leaving or special demands.

If the majority of your customers love what you do, but one of them does not, just say goodbye and wish him the best, no hard feelings.

Excluding people

You can't please everyone, can you? But note that most companies are trying to be everything to everyone.

You need to confidently exclude people and say with pride what is not part of the company's culture. In doing so, you will win the hearts of the people you want.

Excluding advertising

Yes, that's what you're reading!

Let's go back to the CD Baby story. With the company's success, Sivers received several calls from advertising vendors, who would like to advertise on his website.

He always made a point of saying that his company was to help musicians.

"CD Baby needs to charge money to support themselves, but money is not the point. I don't do anything for the money."

When you ask your customers, what would improve your service, someone replies, "Please fill your site with more advertising?"

No. Then don't do that.

Overview: Prepare to grow

Derek Sivers says that CD Baby doubled in size each year for the first six years. Customers and profit, almost 100% growth each year.

No matter what line of business you're in, it's a good idea to prepare for what would happen if it doubled.

Do you currently have 10 customers? What would it be like if you were 20 at once?

Note that "more of the same" is not the answer. You would have to do things in a new way to handle twice as much business.

Overview: Delegate functions

Most self-employed workers are caught in the delegation's trap. You are so busy doing everything yourself.

You know you need help, but finding and training someone would take more time than you have! So, you keep working harder, until you break.

Don't run away from your problems, the solution is to solve them!

In this part of the book "Anything You Want", Derek Sivers tells us how he left the company and left it in the hands of his team. For this, it implemented a philosophy in the company that has the following process:

  1. Gather everyone around.
  2. Answer the questions and explain the philosophy.
  3. Make sure everyone understands the thought process.
  4. Ask someone to write in a manual.
  5. Let everyone know that they can decide this without you next time.

As the team was ready to run the business, he was free to really improve CD Baby. He still worked 12 hours a day, but now he spent all of his time on improvements, optimizations and innovations.

For four years, he saw his company's turnover go from $1 million to $20 million, and from 8 to 85 employees.

"To be a true entrepreneur, make sure you can leave for a year and when you return, your company will be better off than when you left."

Delegate, but don't abdicate

Delegation is not natural for any of us. But Derek was trying very hard to be good at this. He knew how important it was to get into the delegation mindset, and he was trying to empower his employees - so that they knew they could make decisions on their own, without him present.

However, the company began to take directions that were not in his plans.

He empowered his employees so much that he ended up giving them all the power.

Then he realized that there is an excess of delegation.

He learned an important word: abdicate. To abdicate means to renounce or renounce power or responsibility. This word is generally used when a king abdicates the throne or crown.

Lesson learned by Derek too late: delegate, but don't abdicate.

Overview: The sale of the company

Derek thought he would never sell his company. After a relaunch of the site in 2008, he received three calls from different companies asking if he was interested in selling his company.

It had never crossed his mind, but this time he was left with this doubt: "What if I sold?"

You, reader, must be asking yourself, "How do I know the right time to sell?" to which Derek replies: "You will know".

Doing charity

At the end of "Anything You Want", Derek says that when he decided to sell CD Baby, he already had enough money. He didn't need and didn't want the money from the sale.

Thus, he ended up creating a charity fund for independent musicians and when he dies, all of his assets would go to music education.

What do other authors say about it?

In "Little Red Book of Sales", Jeffrey Gitomer says that the word "value" is difficult to define and understand. What's more, giving and adding value are words that many salespeople have a hard time understanding, let alone provide.

According to the author:

"Many people think that value is something that the company provides. Some small additional service, something adhered to the product, a subtle reduction in price, even something 'free'. Wrong"

These things are not values. Value is made for the customer, in favor of the customer.

In the book by Brazilian businessman Flávio Augusto, "Value Generation 2", he shows how, instead of just working for capital, it is also important to generate value for customers. By generating value in other people's lives, they will generate value for you.

In the book "The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource", author Jeffrey Gitomer advises that the most important and fundamental tool for any sale is your mind. Self-confidence is the key to controlling it, if you don't believe you, nobody will believe you.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

  • When you make a dream come true for yourself, it will be a dream for someone else too.
  • A business plan should never take more than a few hours to work.
  • So no, your idea doesn't need funding to get started.
  • Don't think you need a big view. Just stay focused on helping people today.

Did you like this summary of the book "Anything You Want"?

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If you are interested in knowing more about CD Baby and how Derek Sivers lessons to be an entrepreneur, be sure to purchase the book by clicking on the link below:

Book 'Anything You Want'

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