Anything You Want


Derek Sivers

Read in
May, 2020
My rating:


A short, powerful read from one of the world wide web's original entrepreneurs about, quite simply, how to do business. Provides an enormous amount of insight and common sense in a very short volume. Has the most value per page of any book I think I've ever read. I listened to the audiobook version, which the author also recommends.


High level notes

  • If you can do something that is useful to others and makes you happy at the same time, then you're onto a winner.
  • Don't assume you know what people want - start small and build based on what people tell you they enjoy.
  • There is greater power in having many smaller customers than there is in having a handful of big customers. You can fire some of the small ones easily if you need to - but you can't fire the big ones.
  • Never trade your time to make money. Or, put a different way, only build businesses that can function without you needing to be there.
  • Your business does not need to be big. Ask yourself - is your goal to be big? Or to be helpful?
  • Don't try to impress or do what you think needs to be done. It's okay to do things the way you want to do them - it's your business after all, and you have to build it the way you want it to be, otherwise you'll resent it (and probably spend more money, too).

General notes/quotes

  • What makes you happy? What's worth doing?
  • When you make a company you create a utopia, with your own rules for how things should be.
  • For a business to be successful, you need to answer the call of others.
  • You don't know what people want until you start doing it.
  • Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business.
  • Don't wait years fighting uphill battles against locked doors.
  • Either hell yeah or no.
  • If you don't have any money, you don't have any money to waste.
  • Everything you do should be for your customers.
  • Being useful doesn't need funding.
  • You don't need all the corporate bullshit to succeed.
  • The power of many little customers is greater than the power of a few big customers.
  • Your first idea is just one of many obsessions.
  • You don't need a vision. Just focus on helping people today.
  • 'Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn't that enough?'
  • How do you grade yourself?
  • Set up your business like you don't need the money, and it'll come your way
  • Don't try to impress an invisible jury of MBA professors. It's okay to be casual.
  • What would your business be like if demand doubled overnight? What if it halved?
  • Delegate or die trap. Self employed a real problem. You keep work harder until you break.
  • Business owner - can you leave for a year?
  • Not every business needs to be as big as possible
  • Trust but verify - important when delegating

More of this, but in your inbox.

If you found that interesting, why not sign up to my mailing list? You'll join several hundred others receiving interesting updates about curious things that you won't see here on my blog. The emails are infrequent, it's easy to unsubscribe and I don't have anything to sell you. Neat.