anything you want book

Book Summary: Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

The Book in Three Sentences

Anything You Want is a book that can be read in under an hour and has everything Derek Sivers learned while building his business. As an independent musician, Sivers wanted to sell his music online but didn’t know how, so he learned how to do it himself. Eight years later he sold his online music store for $22 million.

Anything You Want Summary

Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby, a hobby that became a $22 million business. Anything You Want is ten years of experience packed into a one-hour book. In 1997, Sivers was 27 and a professional musician. He started a company because he wanted to sell independent music online. He created a website through trial and error and some of his musician friends also wanted to sell their music online. Sivers named the site CD Baby. He wrote a mission statement and his business became a dream come true, a utopia. Below, you’ll find some of Sivers’ philosophies and ideas that propelled his hobby and turned it into a multimillionaire idea.

  • Instead of imitating others, you should follow your own path. Don’t pursue distractions, pursue dreams.
  • Business isn’t about money, “it’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself”. 
  • Pursue business if you want to solve other people’s problems: you don’t need money to start helping others.
  • In your business, you should be unnecessary.
  • Only do what makes you happy.
  • A business plan should be written in a few hours at most.
  • Success doesn’t come from persistence, it comes from persistently improving and inventing. 
  • People’s reactions to your business should be positive. If it isn’t, don’t pursue it.
  • You should be saying “hell yeah!” to things. If you aren’t, then it’s a resounding “no”.
  • Satisfy customers, not investors.
  • Start small, you don’t need money to start. By starting small, you focus on problem-solving.
  • Ideas are useless until carried out.
  • You can’t please everybody. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Leave out 99%.
  • Don’t fill your website with ads. Customers don’t like seeing ads.
  • Having a plan or a vision isn’t necessary.
  • Never lose track of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Do you want to maximize profitability? Or do you want to help people out?
  • How do you grade yourself? What do you need to feel satisfied?
  • Once the problem has been solved permanently and your service is no longer needed and it dies, so be it.
  • Act like you don’t need the money. People will love you.
  • It’s often small details that make people recommend you to their friends. Customers could talk to someone over the phone after two rings. Sivers changed the “from” field to “CD Baby Loves” and the name of the customer. Even if you want to be big, you don’t have to act boring. Add a bunch of human touches to your business.
  • Hire lightly and fire lightly.
  • Always be prepared for your business to double.
  • Doing something yourself isn’t about being efficient, it’s about the joy of learning it. If it makes you happy, do it.
  • Never promise something to your customers that’s out of your control.
  • Follow the delegation mindset. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of the company.
  • Helping people should be the first goal, profit comes second.
  • Being self-employed means that if you take time off, your business crashes. Being a business owner means leaving and coming back only to find your business better than when you left.
  • Make sure you know what makes you happy, don’t forget it.
  • Trust, but verify. Don’t rely on others for everything and forget.
  • There is such a thing as over-delegation. Don’t give all the power to your employees. Delegate, but don’t abdicate.
  • Sivers eventually sold CD Baby. By not having many possessions, he has the freedom to live wherever he wants.

Further Reading

Scroll to Top