Bookshelf

Anything You Want

40 Lessons For a New Kind of Entrepreneur

by Derek Sivers, 83 pages

Finished on 18th of August, 2022, buy here.
Listen to these book notes on the Teesche Podcast.

What is the common purpose of every company every founded? Provide people with some kind of value. Give them what they want or need. If that should change, the company must, too. You company is a playground, it can be made into anything you want it to be.

πŸš€ The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. The main goal and biggest motivation of any company should be to create value for other people.
  2. Making the company work on its own without you and be just as big and successful as it needs to be to serve the people who want its services or products is the end goal.
  3. If your company is helping people and they are happy, you and your employees are happy, and you’re making a profit, that’s enough – there’s no need for change.

🎨 Impressions

This has been the exact right book at the right time for me personally. Derek Sivers offers business founder and owner advice from the perspective of having it all behind him. The way he concisely describes how he stumbled into building a successful and highly profitable company which he was then able to sell at a huge profit makes me feel like that with the right mindset it’s possible to gain more happiness than I currently do from running my own company.

He has this relaxed aura around him. Matter-of-factly he states that if his company’s services are no longer necessary for any customers, then that’s a great development for him because people are apparently happy without his work now, paving the way for him to follow through with some other idea or pursue different opportunities to help other people.

I think many people who found companies, and I wouldn’t necessarily exclude myself from those, have a strong focus on becoming as profitable as possible with what they’re doing first and foremost, while forgetting that in the end the customer decides if they become profitable at all. Putting that goal up top of the pyramid should therefore be every company’s biggest focus.

πŸ€ How the Book Changed Me

  • Your company can be whatever you want it to be and you as the founder hold all the powers in order to change it to your liking.
  • There is nothing you really have to do, you can do anything you want and just be okay with the consequences. Think about what might happen before reacting in a stubborn or anxious way.
  • Always put the needs of customers, employees, and others first, because they are the people who justify the company’s existence. Your own goals for the company are secondary and should be guided by what people want the company to be.

πŸ“” Highlights & Notes

  • The goal is to provide value to your fellow human beings. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.
  • When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.
  • Don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.
  • Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?
  • Don’t get hung up on your company. If someday the value you used to provide for others isn’t valuable anymore, that’s great! Go do something else then.
  • Despite all the efforts put into features, pricing, design, partnerships, and more, people will choose one company over another just because they like the customer service.
  • It’s much harder to get a new customer than it is to get new business from an existing customer. Companies focus so much on getting new customers, but keeping existing customers thrilled is a better investment.
  • When one employee can’t focus, and spends his time surfing the web, instead of just firing or reassigning that person to more challenging work, the company installs an expensive content-approving firewall so that nobody can go to unapproved sites ever again. It’s important to resist that simplistic, angry, reactionary urge to punish everyone, and step back to look at the big picture.
  • Even if I was very clear but took more than a few sentences to explain something, I’d get thousands of replies from people who never read past the first few sentences. Writing that email to customers – carefully eliminating every unnecessary word, and reshaping every sentence to make sure it could not be misunderstood – would take me all day.
  • But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you.
  • To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you come back, your business would be doing better than when you left.
  • Since I had never quit a job before, and didn’t know how, I did what seemed to be the respectful and considerate thing to do: I found and trained my replacement. (Use your own compass for what feels right when you don’t know how something is done.)
  • The boss’s opinion is not necessarily better than anyone else’s. But once you become the boss, your opinion is dangerous because it’s not just one person’s opinion anymore – it’s a command! So adding your two cents can really hurt morale.
  • When you want to learn how to do something yourself, most people won’t understand. They’ll assume the only reason we do anything is to get it done, and doing it yourself is not the most efficient way. But that’s forgetting about the joy of learning and doing.
  • Never forget that you can make your role anything you want it to be. Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find those people and let them do it.
  • You have to just do whatever you love the most, or you’ll lose interest in the whole thing.
  • We need to pursue our intrinsic motivation.
  • Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay close attention to when you’re being the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.

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