Read: July 2012
Rating: 4/5 (Good)
Derek Sivers has long been one of my business philosophy inspirations and his blog, Sivers.org is one of the few I’ve been a subscriber to for years.
In Anything You Want, he distills his business philosophies of customer first and business as art down into bite sized chunks that I frequently review. Derek’s success, in all sense of the word, is both inspiring and humbling.
This book is full of nuggets, but three points stand out and have stuck with me.
- Customers First, always, forever.
- HELL YEAH OR NO – Commit all the way or leave space for something that does want you to commit all the way.
- Business is a subset of life, not the other way around. The purpose of your business is subservient to your exploration of yourself as a human.
These are my philosophies from the ten years I spent starting and growing a small business. 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 gain. 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 can’t 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.
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.
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. Present each new idea or improvement to the world. If multiple people are saying, “Wow! Yes! I need this! I’d be happy to pay you to do this!” then you should probably do it. But if the response is anything less, don’t pursue it.
No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”
Any time you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from Steve Blank: No plan survives first contact with customers.
By not having any money to waste, you never waste money.
My well-funded friends would spend $100,000 to buy something that I made myself for $1000. They did it saying “we need the very best,” but it didn’t improve anything for the customers.
Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your 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.
It’s counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.
If you want to be useful, you can always start now, with only 1 percent of what you have in your grand vision. It’ll be a humble prototype version of your grand vision, but you’ll be in the game. You’ll be ahead of the rest, because you actually started, while others are waiting for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line.
Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy on actually solving real problems for real people.
It’s a big world. You can loudly leave out 99 percent of it. 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.
You can’t pretend there’s only one way to do it. Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans.
Care about your customers more than about yourself
That’s the Tao of business: Care about your customers more than 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. When someone’s doing something for the money, people can sense it, like a desperate lover. It’s a turnoff.
It’s another Tao of business: Set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way.
if your internal processes are always designed to handle twice your existing load, it sends an attractive “come on in, we’ve got plenty of room” message to everyone.
Being, not having: When you want to learn how to do something yourself, most people won’t understand. They’ll assume the only reason we do anything is to get it done, and doing it yourself is not the most efficient way. But that’s forgetting about the joy of learning and doing. 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’re insisting on doing something yourself. But the whole point of doing anything is because it makes you happy! That’s it!
You might get bigger faster and make millions if you outsourced everything to the experts. But what’s the point of getting bigger and making millions? To be happy, right? In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have. To have something (a finished recording, a business, or millions of dollars) is the means, not the end. To be something (a good singer, a skilled entrepreneur, or just plain happy) is the real point. When you sign up to run a marathon, you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.
Business is as creative as the fine arts. You can be as unconventional, unique, and quirky as you want. A business is a reflection of the creator. Some people want to be billionaires with thousands of employees. Some people want to work alone. Some want as much profit as possible. Some want as little profit as possible. Some want to be in Silicon Valley with Fortune 500 customers. Some want to be anonymous. No matter which goal you choose, there will be lots of people telling you you’re wrong. Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay close attention to when you’re being the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.
Last Updated on April 18, 2019 by RipplePop