Book of the day - Anything You Want:40 Lessons for a new kind of entrepreneur By Derek Sivers
No wasted pages of intro. Straight to the point and an incredible book.
Derek Sivers was the founder of CDbaby.com an early in the internet days independent artist record website. Anything You Want is incredibly motivating and a guiding compass for entrepreneurs. When CDbaby had 85 employees, but Sivers preferred a company with 5 employees, Sivers knew it was time to sell CDbaby.com. As an entrepreneur I try to balance the idea of building a very profitable company with the idea of building a family atmosphere where employees are helping each other grow, energize, and fulfill lifetime goals.
I haven’t built a business as successful as Sivers CDBaby, but someday I will. Building for success revolves around building your foundational principles for life now. Why do you want to build your business? Who are you helping when building your business? Sivers has an altruistic thought process about business. He is not profit first focused. He does not believe raising funding produces successful results. By raising large amounts of funding you are encouraged to build a profit making machine before helping your customers.
Sivers mentality on creating a company is refreshing and grounding. In the cyber security startup scene, which I’ve been surrounded by for more than a decade, everyone’s goal is to raise bigger rounds while providing little to no customer value. I rarely walk into a startups who’s employees are talking about fighting cybercrime. What I hear are the employees talking about how much the company is valued at, how big the most recent fundraising round was, how fast they are burning cash, and how great last weeks happy hour was. Where’s the customer first talk?
One item Sivers mentions towards the end out of the book, almost in passing is how he took the proceeds from the sale of CDbaby.com and placed 100% of it into an irrevocable trust. From the trust he “pays” himself 5% each year. As a note, this is 1% over the safe draw down rate of 4% usually referenced in FIRE.
Sure he’s giving all of this trust to Music appreciation when he dies, but ultimately this strategy is a financial shelter for his net worth. He has nicely aligned himself with the “Financial Freedom” FIRE movement. He’s not only protected himself from frivolous American lawsuits against him, but he has also protected himself from his own stupid money decisions or living a life of excess. Let’s be honest , his trust probably has a hefty few million in it and 5% draw down on millions of dollars is more than enough to have a fancy pants lifestyle.