Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur
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You can follow the beaten path and call yourself an entrepreneur or you can blaze your own trail and really be one.
When Derek Sivers started CD Baby, he wasn’t planning on building a major business. He was a successful independent musician who just wanted to sell his CDs online. When no one would help him do it, he set out on his own and built an online store from scratch.
He started in 1998 by helping his friends sell their CDs. In 2000, he hired his first employee. Eight years later, he sold CD Baby for $22 million.
Sivers didn’t need a business plan, and neither do you. You don’t need to think big; in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Start with what you have, care about your customers more than yourself, and run your business like you don’t need the money.
buy back that 90 percent of my company. Delegate or die: The self-employment trap Most self-employed people get caught in the delegation trap. You’re so busy, doing everything yourself. You know you need help, but to find and train someone would take more time than you have. So you keep working harder, until you break. Here’s my little tale of how I broke into the delegation mind-set: In 2001, CD Baby was three years old. I had eight employees, but I was still doing “everything else” myself,
care, sell.” (I think his point was that my lack of enthusiastic vision was doing a disservice to my clients. It’d be better for everyone if I put the company in more motivated hands that could help them all grow.) I called Jared Rose, my business coach, and asked him to grill me about this big decision. “What other ways can you achieve the freedom you want, without selling?” he asked me. After an hour of questions like this, we both came to the conclusion that I was really done. As with any
lucky streak I’ve had in my life will benefit tons of people—not just me. I get the pride of knowing I did something smart and irreversible before I could change my mind. I get the safety of knowing I won’t be the target of wrongful lawsuits, since I have very little net worth. I get the unburdened freedom of having it out of my hands so I can’t do something stupid. But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough. You make your perfect world I started CD Baby focused
way that was the opposite of ambitious. I wrote down my utopian dream-come-true distribution deal from my musician’s point of view. In a perfect world, my distributor would: Pay me every week. Show me the full name and address of everyone who bought my CD. (Because those are my fans, not the distributor’s.) Never kick me out for not selling enough. (Even if I sell only one CD every five years, it’ll be there for someone to buy.) Never allow paid placement. (Because it’s not fair to those who
of each order, there was a box that would ask, “Any special requests?” One time, someone said, “I’d love some cinnamon gum.” Since one of the guys in the warehouse was going to the store anyway, he picked up some cinnamon gum and included it in the package. One time, someone said, “If you could include a small, rubber squid, I would appreciate it. If this is unobtainable, a real squid would do.” Just by chance, a customer from Korea had sent us a packaged filet of squid. So the shipping guys