Key bits from Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Last night I stayed up until 3am reading this book. It was fantastic, buy it and read it today. I liked it so much that I sent Derek an e-mail thanking him for writing it immediately after I finished it (at 3am). I actually got a very nice reply back. Its only a short one but it is packed full of really inspirational stuff about the creation of CDBaby the independent music company, and some amazing anecdotes which I can’t really capture here without rewriting the whole book. Here are some key extracts:


  • 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.
  • Never do anything just for the money.
  • The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
  • When you make it a dream come true for yourself, it’ll be a dream come true for someone else too.
  • Please don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.
  • I started this as a hobby to help my friends, and that’s the only reason it exists.
  • Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing.
  • Your company should be willing to die for your customers.
  • Please know that its often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell their friends about you.
  • If you find even the smallest way to make people smile, they’ll remember you more for that smile than for all your fancy business-model stuff. Check this out http://sivers.org/squid
  • Over ten years, it seemed like every time someone raved about how much they loved CD Baby, it was because of one of these little fun human touches.


  • Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers
  • If you’re ever unsure what to prioritize, just ask your customers the open-ended question, “How can I best help you now?” Then focus on satisfying those requests.
  • Just thrill them (customers) and they’ll tell everyone.
  • 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 love, being generous instead of stingy, trusting instead of fearful, it triggers this law: We want to give to those who give.


  • Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people.
  • Having no funding was a huge advantage for me.
  • I’m so glad I didn’t have investors. I didn’t have to please anybody but my customers and myself. No effort spent on anything but my customers.
  • I’d say, “No. I want my business to be smaller, not bigger.”
  • By not having money to waste, you never waste money.
  • Necessity is a great teacher.
  • Your idea doesn’t need funding to start. (You also don’t need an MBA, a particular big client, a certain person’s endorsement, a lucky break, or any other common excuse to start).
  • (On not getting funding) When you sign up to a marathon, you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.
  • Business Plans
  • Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.
  • A business plan should never take more than a few hours of work. Hopefully not more than a few minutes.


  • On having no advertising on CDBaby’s website – “No way. Out of the question. That would be like putting a coke machine in a monastery. I’m not doing this to make money.”
  • Rob – Escape the City

    Loved this book Mikey – epic find.

    Favourite bits:

    “Being self-employer feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles.”

    “To be a true business-owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.”

    And check out the message on the dust cover!

    “When anyone can start a business (when everyone is running their career like a business), it begs the question. This is your one chance at life, you can have anything you want, what is worth doing? Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own. They spend decades in pursuit of something that someone convinced them they should want, without realising that it won’t make them happy.”