Anything You Want by Derek Sivers | Book Notes

40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers | Book Notes
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Derek inspired me to start posting my book notes on this site, so it's only fitting that I start with one of his books. Anything You Want is a collection of lessons and stories about entrepreneurship. The book includes timeless teachings on business, but it's really about life in general. In his distinctly whimsical writing style, Sivers offers generous advice about carving your own path. A quick, fun, and useful read.

Below are quotes, notes, and lessons from the book rearranged and reworded to fit my understanding.

I'm a student, not a guru.

Don't be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.

If it's not making you happy, why are you doing it?

Think about what your perfect world would look like and create it. Chances are, you'll help someone else build theirs in the process. Do that enough times and you might have a business on your hands.

The key point is that I wasn't trying to make a big business. I was just daydreaming about how one little thing would look in a perfect world.

Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company.

For an idea to get big big big, it has to be useful. And being useful doesn't need funding.

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

Necessity is a great teacher. It teaches you resourcefulness.

They'd [investors] say, "Don't you want to expand?" I'd say, "No. I want my business to be smaller, not bigger." That always ended the conversation. By not having any money to waste, you never waste money. Since I couldn't afford a programmer, I went to the bookstore and got a $25 book on PHP and MySQL programming. Then I sat down and learned it, with no programming experience.

I didn't know any programming, but I copied some examples from a programming book, with lots of trial and error. Finally, though, I had a BUY NOW button on my website! In 1997 this was a big deal.

If you have too much, you'll waste much. Bloated businesses are often less customer-centric because they're too focused on money, money money and funding, funding, funding. They never learn what their customers want because investors were informing their decisions instead of customers.

Says who? Don't do anything in life just because you it's how you're supposed to. Stop trying to impress an invisible jury of MBAs. Impress your customer; they're the ones paying your bills.

Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers.

None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them. 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.

When you're on to something great, it won't feel like a revolution. It'll feel like uncommon sense.