How to Get Anything You Want: Small Business Strategies for Success


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

Last weekend I breezed through Seth Godin’s latest Domino Project book release, Anything You Want. If you’re a small business owner, it’s worth checking out. He shares a ton of small business strategies for success. Let me share what I loved about this book.

It’s a quick read (less than an hour) by Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, a company I wasn’t familiar with. In the early days of the internet, Sivers invented an online system for independent musicians to get their cd’s into the hands of their fans before the days of ebay and paypal. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but in 1998 it was. Sivers identified a problem that his musician friends were experiencing and was able to solve it. In the meantime his solution, CD Baby, became an accidental multi-million dollar company.

Sivers didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur so his take on owning your own business is fresh. Here are a few of my favorites from the 40 lessons he shares in Anything You Want.

1) You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people.

Few businesses succeed by being all things to all people. It’s something we talk about often at Photography Business Institute for boutique businesses. By clearly defining who you are and who your products or services are right for, you’ll win the hearts of the people you want. It’s a big world. If you’ve got a great idea, the people you want will be thrilled and tell their friends.

2) Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business.

Sivers talks about the difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. When you’re self-employed your business crumbles when you take time off. When you’re a business owner, you could leave for a year and your company will be just fine without you….heck maybe even better. Are you building a business that can live without you? While you may not be there right now, think about how you can incorporate processes to make you less imperative to the day-to-day running of your business. Hire the right people and the right positions to get your business there, eventually.

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

Envision the perfect world for your business life. What does it look like? How many times during the sales process do you talk to your clients? Or do you ever? Do you deliver your products and services to your clients or does someone else? Do you have employees or contractors? Start by envisioning your perfect world for your business. Then work toward getting there. Use this vision of perfection when making decisions about how you’re going to do business and who you’re going to do business with. Pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Do more of what excites you and less of the other.

4) Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

It’s hard to kill an idea you’ve worked hard on. Yet, blatantly disregarding the feedback you’re getting is a huge time suck and motivational drain. Don’t keep pushing your idea that isn’t a hit in it’s current state. Go back, revise. Reinvent. Improve your idea. Then see if the new version of your idea makes people say Woah. If not, don’t pursue it. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Sivers says “Don’t waste years of fighting uphill battles against locked doors. Improve or invent until you get that huge response.” Are you fighting battles against locked doors?

5) If you find yourself over-committing yourself, then use this rule: If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no.”

Trust your gut. If you don’t find yourself immediately getting excited about a new ‘opportunity’ then just say no. You’ll keep your mind free to give 100% to those projects you want to work on. With more creative energy available, you’ll have the opportunity to create something truly remarkable.

6) The way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers.

We always have small business owners asking us how can I get my phone to ring more? How do I get more clients? Where can I find people who love my products and services? Start by looking at how much time you spend with your existing clients. What are you doing to make them smile? Are you spending more time with your existing customers than you spend trying to woo new ones? If not, your priorities need an adjustment.

Anything You Want is a fun read for any small business owner. It won’t make your head hurt, but it will make you question why you’re doing certain things in your business….in a good way!

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