Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

You don’t need a plan or a vision

Do you have a big visionary master plan for how the world will work in twenty years? Do you have massive ambitions to revolutionize your industry?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t. I never did.

A year and a half after starting CD Baby, it was just me and John, my first employee, running it out of my house.

One night, I decided I should think more about the long-term future of this thing. I sat with my diary for a few hours of introspection. Afterwards, I wrote John an email that went like this:

“I think there’s a chance that this thing might be huge one day, so we better start preparing for that now. I mean some day, we might have ONE THOUSAND artists on CD Baby. We might need a third employee! That would mean we’d need three computers here in the office, which would mean we’d need to figure out how to network them together. We might even need to start moving CDs into the garage, since eventually they might fill up the living room. Yes, I know it sounds grandiose, but I think things are headed that way.”

Years later, after I had 100,000 artists and 85 employees, John would often get a good laugh out of this letter I sent him in 1999.

Journalists would ask, “What’s your long-term goal for CD Baby?”

I’d say, “I don’t have one. I surpassed my goals long ago. I’m just trying to help musicians with whatever they need today.”

So please don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.

Anything You Want - book cover