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:

Inspirational

  • 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.

Customers

  • 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.

Funding

  • 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.

Advertising

  • 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.”