Entrepreneur Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby, the most popular music site through which independent artists can sell their music online. In the small but powerful Anything You Want, Derek reveals how he accidentally started CD Baby and the lessons he learned along the way while building a multi-million dollar business. He later sold it and donated the profit to the Independent Musicians Charitable Remainder Unitrust because he’s not motivated by money, he’s motivated by helping people.
I loved his book, not only because it only takes an hour to read, but because his style is engaging and I admire his personal philosophy when it comes to business. “It’s about being, not having.” Derek is very forthright and approachable and if you’ve heard of him, you’ll never forget that he was a musician first and that CD Baby was born of his desire to help his musician friends.
Derek doesn’t tell you how to become a millionaire, but anyone who is an entrepreneur or who simply wants to be will benefit from reading Anything You Want and will likely refer to it repeatedly. Its main points encourage the reader to:
- Find your life’s compass
- Change your business if it’s not a hit
- Be sure to say either “HELL YEAH!” or “no”
- Start now as there’s no funding needed
- Proudly exclude people
- Care about your customers more than about yourself
- Set up your business like you don’t need the money
- Don’t punish everyone for one’s person mistake; and remember that
- You make your perfect world
Among other valid and thought-provoking points the bottom line is that business is about what you want to be and not about what you want to have.
Derek didn’t do everything right. In fact, Steve Jobs dissed him in a keynote speech and he talks about that in the book, as well as the fact that he made a mistake that cost him $3.3 million. He reminds us to “trust but verify; delegate but don’t abdicate.” He tells us what works for him and I like his style. However, I did notice that he contradicted himself by claiming that one doesn’t need funding to start a business and that he didn’t have any investors (pg. 13), when in fact his father was an investor.
One of the best things about buying Derek’s book was that he offers buyers a music bonus of over 200 MP3s by some of his favourite musicians. You’ll find the code word to unlock the MP3 download from his website in the book and those tracks are worth more than the book. I even know a few of the artists he has chosen which is pretty cool.
Ultimately you can think of Anything You Want as a chance to sit down with Derek Sivers for an hour and listen to his experiences in business. I walked away from this refreshing read feeling inspired and I bet that you will too.