Although he doesn’t consider himself as an entrepreneur, he did start his company, grew it, and sold it for a large amount. CD Baby was the name of the company he started, and his efforts were to help unknown musicians distribute their music all over the world.
When he first got the idea, he never thought he was going to build a significant business. He only thought about how to help musicians get out there and become famous. He was a successful independent musician whose desire was to sell his CDs online, and when nobody wanted to help him, he decided to build an online store from scratch.
“Start with what you have, care about your customers more than yourself, and run your business like you don’t need the money.”
Back in 1998, he started helping friends sell their CDs online. In about two years, he needed to hire an employee, and the business grew so fast that eight years later, he managed to sell his company for not less than $22 million. What people don’t know is that he decided to sell his company to a charitable remainder unitrust called Disc Makers, and the agreement was that Derek would receive 5% of the trust’s value annually until his death.
“I still think of everything I do as art, not business. It’s a personal expression, creative exploration, testing out ideas to see what happens.”
Derek didn’t need a business plan; and in his book, he stated that nobody needs one. He offers small pieces of advice that help entrepreneurs get their businesses to grow big and fast. It’s all about intuition and creativity, nevertheless, and about hard work.
“I’ve never done anything just for the money. It’s always been secondary, and always just happened as a side-effect of following my interests. So I don’t have any advice for people who are trying to make money. I don’t know what that’s like.”
Derek Sivers is a writer, entrepreneur, avid student of life. I make useful things and share what I learn.
In 2008, Derek decided to focus on his new company, MuckWork, which was a company where teams of assistants help musicians do the “uncreative dirty work.” People can find out more about his current projects and writings at sivers.org.
Don’t confuse the medium with the message.
Don’t confuse the tool with the goal.
Don’t confuse the vehicle with the path.
In 2012, he launched another company called Wood Egg. This one published annual guides on how to build companies in Asian countries: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Although he is an American by birth, he now resides in Oxford, England. He gave up giving interviews about four years ago because he doesn’t want to talk about business and entrepreneurship anymore. He could provide discussions related to the following: creativity, identity, exploration, learning, unlearning, communication, cycling, culture, psychology, and all kinds of other things.
He considers himself:
“I’ve been a musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and book publisher.”
“Introvert, slow thinker, and love finding a different point of view.”
Books he recently wrote:
- Your Music and People (2019)
- Hell Yeah or No (2019)
- How to Live (2019)
He has worked on a series of podcasts that can be listened on his website.
Also, he offers videos to his readers:
- TED talks
- Seven short-animation videos
Derek Sivers lives a minimalist life trying to do only those things that bring him joy and keeping in his life only what’s needed. That’s why his website is minimalist, as well. Shouldn’t we all do the same? If I have learned something from his life story, it is that we should all do what we like with the sole goal of helping others. The money will come eventually, and money is not the ultimate life goal.
Photo: © 2014 Pat Shepherd
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