Anything You Want
Short, and always on point book on running you business (and life) through the story of running CD Baby.
"Make you business anything you want. Don't try to impress an invisible jury.".
What's your compass? You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what's worth doing.
Business is not about money. It's about making dream come true for others and for yourself.
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what's not working.
The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
Start business by "just helping yourself and a couple of friends".
When you make a business, you get to make it a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.
If you think your life's purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt,
you'll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you. If you
think revolution needs to feel like war, you'll overlook the importance of
simply serving people better.
When you're onto something great, it won't feel like revolution. It'll feel like uncommon sense.
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what's not working. If it's not a hit, switch.
If you're not saying "Hell yeah!" about something – say no.
"No business plan survives first contact with customers"
Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. It's not
about funding, growth, investments, nice office, and so on.
It's counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they'll tell everyone.
Start now. No funding needed.
Ideas are just a multiplier of execution. Ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed.
Never forget that there are thousands of businesses, like Jim's Fish Bait Shop
in a shack on a beach somewhere, that are doing just fine without corporate
Formalities play on fear. Bravely refuse.
The strength of many little customers. Don't try to catch just 1-2 big customers, focus on serving many small ones.
Proudly exclude people. Say what your business is not. It's a big world, you can loudly leave out 99 percent of it.
When you've asked your customers what would improve your service, has anyone said, "Please fill your website with more advertising"?. Nope. So don't do it.
Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned,
so make ten radically different plans.
Same goes with your current path in life. It's just one of many options.
Don't think you need a huge vision. You don't know what's gonna happen. 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?
How do you grade yourself? What's important for you? (How much money you make, how many you influence for the better, how deeply you can influence just few people, how many useful things you create, ...). It's important to know in advance, to make sure you are staying focused on that.
Care about your customers more than about your business. If all customers will have a better way to do what they need, without you, that's great!
Set up your business like you don't need the money, and it'll likely come your way. (like in love – people fall in love with people who don't care about them).
Don't punish everyone for one person's mistake.
At the end of every computer (phone, call, message, etc) is a real person. A lot like you.
It's often the tiny details (like a goofy and funny confirmation email) that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you.
Little things make all the difference. Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company.
Don't try to impress an invisible jury of MBA professors. It's OK to be casual.
Prepare to double [your business]. What would it take?
People think the whole point of doing anything is to get it done. But the point
of doing anything is because it makes you happy! When you sign up for a marathon,
you don't want a taxi to take you to the finish line.
In the end, it's about what you want to be, not what you want to have.
Don't promise your customers something that is not in your full control.
To be a true business owner, make it so that you could leave for a year,
and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.
Delegate or die.
Make it anything you want. People may think you need to grow your business,
be an important CEO, and so on. But do you?
You don't have to do what anyone expects you to do. Make sure you know what makes you happy, and don't forget it.
Trust, but verify. Remember it when delegating. You have to do both.
Delegate, but don't abdicate. There is such a thing as over-delegation.
[About selling the company]. As with any breakup, graduation, or move, you emotionally disconnect, and it all feels as if it's in the distant past.
I've been asked a few times by other entrepreneurs, "How do you know when it's time to sell?". My answer is, "You'll know." (I feel this applies to other situations as well – A.Z.).
[On giving the company to the charity] But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough.
You make your perfect world. Along the way I learned the importance of making my business a dream come true for myself, too.
No matter which goal you choose, there will be lots of people telling you you're wrong.
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.
Even if what you're doing is slowing the growth of your business – if it makes you happy, that's OK. It's your choice to retain small.
Whatever you make, it's your creation, so make it your personal dream come true.