This book is worth 10 years of life and business experience and it only takes about an hour to read. I suggest you just read it, even if you’re not in business. It’s a great reality check for a lot of areas in life. You can do anything you want. Choose wisely.
My notes from the book:
What’s your compass? Don’t pursue little distractions in life because you don’t know which way to go. Chase your big dreams.
Making a company is a great way to improve yourself to the world. It’s your utopia where you design your perfect world.
Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.
With CD Baby, Derek wasn’t trying to make a business. He started off helping a few friends out and, with his love of music, started an online store.
A business plan shouldn’t take more than a few hours of work. The best plans are simple. At a glance you should be able to see if the numbers work.
When you’re onto something great it won’t feel like a revolution, it’ll just feel like uncommon sense.
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.
If you’re not saying “hell yeah” about something than you should be saying “no”. If you don’t really feel great about doing something, don’t do it. You then leave room for the great things.
The poverty principal. If you don’t have any money to waste, you won’t waste money.
Everything you do is for your customers. Every decision you make should be better meeting their needs.
If someone has a big idea but needs funding they probably like the idea of being big more than the idea itself. Form something to get big it needs to be useful. Being useful doesn’t need funding. Starting small puts 100% of your energy into solving real problems.
Ideas are worth nothing until they are executed.
The strength of many little customers. Design your business to have lots of little clients. Much easier. Confidently and proudly exclude people, cater to a niche.
There’s never only one day to do it. No business goes as planned so make 10 radically different plans.
For Derek, business wasn’t all about money. Was he helping people? Are they happy? Was he happy? Was he profitable? Isn’t that enough?
If you set up your business like you don’t need the money, people are happier to pay you.
Be clear and simple. CD Baby had 2 million customers. If he was unclear in an email he’d get 20,000 confused replies. Simplify everything on the website or email, otherwise it’ll confuse or they won’t get past the first sentence.
Little things make all the difference. Grand plans are very well but people will remember if you made them smile. Be quirky and memorable. Even if you’re big you don’t have to act like a big boring company.
Never be the business that gets frazzled when business is going busy and well.
It’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have.
Delegate or die. You need to make yourself unnecessary to the day to day running of your company. Makes sense to do this with all mundane things, bills etc.
Do things for happiness not money. Money is just a means to happiness anyway.
Trust, but verify. Trust someone but have checks.
When to sell a company? When you stop enjoying it and you see your future growth and challenges outside of it.
Derek sold CD Baby for $22M, transferring everything to a trust to benefit musicians. He lives on ‘just enough’ because to him, the simple life is best. That’s what makes him happy.
No matter what goal you chase, lots of people will tell you you’re wrong. Pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you.