Derek Sivers

Make it anything you want

After your business has been up and running a while, you’ll hit an interesting crossroads.

Everyone assumes that as the owner of the company, you’ll be the traditional CEO, having high-powered lunches with other high-powered CEOs and doing all the big business deals.

But what if you don’t like doing that? What if what you love the most is the solitude of the craft? Or talking to customers?

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 him do it.

For me, I loved sitting alone and programming, writing, planning, and inventing. Thinking of ideas and making them happen. This makes me happy, not business deals or management. So I found someone who liked doing business deals and put him in charge of all that.

If you do this, you’ll encounter a lot of pushback and misunderstanding, but who cares? You can’t just live someone else’s expectation of a traditional business. You have to just do whatever you love the most, or you’ll lose interest in the whole thing.

On a similar note, people also assume that you want to be big big big — as big as can be. But do you, really?

Huge growth means lots of meetings, investors, bankers, media, and answering to others. It’s quite far from the real core of the business.

Happiness is the real reason you’re doing anything, right? Even if you say it’s for the money, the money is just a means to happiness, right? But what if it’s proven that after a certain point, money doesn’t create any happiness at all, but only headaches? You may be much happier as a $1 million business than a $1 billion business.

Funny thing is, I didn’t want CD Baby to grow at all. Even from the start, I didn’t want this website hobby to take away from my career as a musician, but it did. I didn’t want it to have more than a couple employees or outgrow my house, but it did. When I had twenty employees, I vowed to keep it that small, but customer demand kept growing, and I had to keep the customers happy. When I had fifty employees, I swore that was enough, and we needed to curb this growth, but the business kept growing.

When people would ask, “What are you doing to grow your company?” I’d say, “Nothing! I’m trying to get it to stop growing! I don’t like this. It’s too big.”

They thought that was the weirdest thing. Doesn’t every business want to be as big as possible?

No. Make sure you know what makes you happy, and don’t forget it.

Anything You Want - book cover