Derek Sivers

Formalities play on fear. Bravely refuse.

A year after starting CD Baby, when it was going pretty well, I got a call from a friend who was setting up his own similar web-based business.

He said, “Do you have any advice about how to do our ‘Terms & Conditions’ and ‘Privacy Policy’ on the website? Which lawyer did you use for that?”

I said, “Huh? I don’t have any of that legalese stuff. I’ve never hired a lawyer.”

Shocked, he said, “That’s crazy! What if some kid buys a CD from you, then kills himself? What if you get sued over that?”

I said, “Then no stupid footnote legalese would protect me anyway, so I’ll worry about it if it happens.”

Do you passionately love the “Terms & Conditions” and “Privacy Policy” pages on other websites? Have you even read them? If not, then why would you go putting that garbage on your website?

After CD Baby grew to fifty employees, all the business-to-business service companies started pitching me on how I needed an official employee review plan, sensitivity training, “Terms and Conditions” postings, and all this corporate crap.

I got such joy out of saying no to all of it.

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.

As your business grows, never let the leeches sucker you into all that stuff they pretend you need.

They’ll play on your fears, saying that you need this stuff to protect yourself against lawsuits. They’ll scare you with horrible worst-case scenarios. But those are just sales tactics. You don’t need any of it.

Anything You Want - book cover