Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur - by Derek Sivers

  • 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.

  • When you make a company, you make a utopia. It's where you design your perfect world.

  • Never do anything just for the money.

  • Don't pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.

  • Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what's not working.

  • Your business plan is moot. You don't know what people really want until you start doing it.

  • Starting with no money is an advantage. You don't need money to start helping people.

  • You can't please everyone, so proudly exclude people.

  • Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business.

  • The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects. When you present one to the world and it's not a hit, don't keep pushing it as is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

No "yes." Either "Hell yeah!" or "no."

None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them. 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.

If you want to be useful, you can always start now, with only 1 percent of what you have in your grand vision. It'll be a humble prototype version of your grand vision, but you'll be in the game. You'll be ahead of the rest, because you actually started, while others are waiting for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line. Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy into actually solving real problems for real people.

How do you grade yourself? It's important to know in advance, to make sure you're staying focused on what's honestly important to you, instead of doing what others think you should. For me, it's how many useful things I create, whether songs, companies, articles, websites, or anything else. If I create something that's not useful to others, it doesn't count.

Act like you don't need the money. 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.

Don't try to impress an invisible jury of MBA professors. It's OK to be casual. There's a benefit to being naive about the norms of the world--deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.

Being, not having: 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. In the end, it's about what you want to be, not what you want to have. To have something (a finished recording, a business, or millions of dollars) is the means, not the end. To be something (a good singer, a skilled entrepreneur, or just plain happy) is the real point. When you sign up to run a marathon, you don't want a taxi to take you to the finish line.

There's a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles. 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.

Never forget that you can make your role anything you want it to be. Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find that person and let her do it.

Business is as creative as the fine arts. You can be as unconventional, unique, and quirky as you want. A business is a reflection of the creator.