Anything you want [book review]

What do you want? You can have anything you want. First read the 40 lessons for a new kind of entrepreneur.

Derek Sivers is the founder of CDBaby. I head never heard of CD baby until I read some posts and the website of Derek Sivers.

Derek Sivers Anything you want

The thing that surprised me the most of this story that, he had it ‘all’ and gave it away. Let me rephrase that, he had it all and give it to charity.

You don’t see that very often. Most entrepreneurs dream of getting it all and lots of it. They want to improve the world, create a better place AND make money from it.

Derek says:

“Life is to be lived, and your business is part of your life. What if you live it?”

These are some of Derek’s philosophies:

  • Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and 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 the perfect world.
  • Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working.
  • Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to help people.
  • The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so only do things what makes you happy.

Then Derek tells about how he started his company. Why he wanted his company to be smaller. CD Baby started to grow and he needed to hire personnel to handle the orders quicker, to keep the customers happy.

Thrill your customers

Everything you do must be for your customers. Don’t spend money on luxury office furniture when you can spend that money to improve the system and get happier clients.

When you have problems what to prioritize in your business, just go to your customers. Ask the question “How can I best help you now?” Then focus on satisfying those requests.

The way you grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone. (quality before quantity).

Be useful

Do you want to be useful to the world? Just start now. Don’t wait for money to make it happen. Don’t wait for investors. Start with your big dream and make it small.

Help one person now and you are one step closer to your dream.
If you want to be useful you can start now.


Focus on helping lots of little clients. When one client needs to leave nothing changes in your company. No one client can demand that you need to do what he says, you are your own boss. Of course you must keep your clients happy in general as said before.

Build your business on serving thousands of small customers, not dozens large ones. This way you don’t have to worry about one customer leaving or making special demands that you don’t like.

If 99% of your customers love what you do, you can say goodbye to the 1% that don’t like what you do.

How do you attract these customers that love what you do? Say loud and clear what you are not. Exclude as many people as you can.

This way the people that you do target will find you. They will be attracted to you because you show how much you value them.

Tao of business

When your solution is no longer needed you can kill your business. Are you ready to do that? Or are you keeping the problem alive so you can keep doing business?

Tao of business:

“Care about your customers more that about yourself, and you’ll do well.”

If you set up your business like you don’t need the money, people are happier to pay you. Banks love to lend money to businesses that don’t need it. Publishers love to promote authors that don’t need their help.

Do what you do for love. Be generous. Trust people.
It will attract people who want to spend their money at your business.

Another Tao of business:

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

Twice the load

Another great thing I liked in the book was that Derek always prepared to double in size. It is a good start for your business too.

What do you need to do if tomorrow the number of clients will double. It is not easy, but it will change your business.

When you add one new client, you can do that by just doing more of the same. If you would double the number of clients, more of the same will not work.

This will prevent you to become a small business that freaks out when you are doing well. It sends out messages like “I can’t handle this.” and customers will move on.

I know this from personal experience. When making new plans I now add the question, What happens if this doubles?

Self-employed or business owner

There is a difference between these two. Decide what you want to be, self-employed or a business owner.

Derek says there is a big difference:
Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles.

To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you are back your business would be doing better than you left.

Still not sure if I agree on this. I feel that you should be able to build a business and being self-employed.
Being self-employed makes me happy. With information products and books I can take time off, the business will not be doing better but also not worse.

Do it yourself and be happy

I want to learn doing lots of things myself. I love the learning process, reading about it, doing it, testing, improving, seeing results. It makes me happy.

Yes it takes longer. Yes it would be better if I hired an expert. I love trying new things. So why outsource it and miss all the fun?

btw you want to outsource the things that you don’t like to do.

“It’s all about what you want to be, not what you want to have.”

I want to be ___________________ (let’s hear it in the comments below).

I want to be a good dad.
I want to be the family and business balance finder for entrepreneurs.
I want to be happy.

So again, complete this:

I want to be _______________

Read it now: Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. (aff via Amazon)

By Erno Hannink

Sparring and accountability partner for entrepreneurs who create sustainable positive impact. Explores decision-making. Shares his insights on this in, articles, books (Dutch), podcast, newsletters, and tools. Has a life mission to reduce social and ecological inequality. Father of two children, husband of M., runs, referee for the national soccer league, and uses stoicism for calm. Lives in the Netherlands. Speaks Dutch, English, and German.