Company Of One is about intentionally keeping your business small
Paul Jarvis pushes back against the traditional idea that companies have to grow to be successful.
He makes a great argument that you don’t have to keep growing and scaling to succeed.
That staying small, instead of mindlessly chasing business growth, is actually a better strategy for success.
And once you understand you don’t have to constantly chase growth and scale, the author gives some ideas on how to build a company of one.
It’s not a tactical, step-by-step framework, but he gives lots of examples of ways you can build a company that gives you the freedom and autonomy that most of us want.
There were three ideas in the book that I really liked.
Consider setting upper Bounds
This is the counter-intuitive idea that you can (and probably should) set an upper limit for your business.
That you should think about how you want your business to operate and set boundaries on how big you want to get, how much revenue you want to generate, how much work you want to take on etc.
Most people operate under the idea that more Is better.
We think we need more clients, more money, more employees etc to build a successful business. But that’s not always true.
In fact, a lot of times growing bigger is the opposite of successful.
I know for me personally, I want a business that allows me to live a certain lifestyle. Sure, I want to make a level of income that makes it so I never have to worry about money again.
But I also want to do work that I’m excited about.
I want to work with customers that I like.
And I want to have the freedom and autonomy to do the things I want to do, when I want to do them.
For me, trying to grow bigger and bigger only takes away from the things that are important to me.
By chasing more money I end up doing work I’m not excited about, for people I don’t really like. And I lose the freedom and autonomy that I wanted when I started my business.
So chasing more growth and more scale isn’t my idea of a successful business.
Obviously you’re different from me. And growing and scaling a huge business might be the right option for you.
But getting bigger isn’t the only way to build a successful business.
If building a company of one sounds better to you, take some time to think about exactly how big you want your business to get.
Figure out what your upper bounds are so you know when you can take your foot off the gas pedal and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
The Importance Of Being A Generalist
To survive as a company of one, you need a varied set of skills.
We all start out as specialists in whatever our industry is.
But to build a successful business, you have to develop more skills and start moving towards becoming a generalist.
Because as a company of one, you’re on the hook for everything.
You’re the marketing department, the sales department and the customer service.
You’re the one who has to create the products, write the copy and deliver the goods.
Sure you can outsource and get help with some of it. But as a solo entrepreneur, you have to be able to do most of it too.
So get comfortable learning the skills that go into building a business.
Because to build a company of one, you have to become a generalist.
You need to know how to do all the things that go along with running a business.
You don’t have to become the best in the world at any of those things, but you definitely need to understand and be able to execute them.
Don’t Try To Be A Lone Wolf
As entrepreneurs, it’s really easy to try to take on everything by yourself.
And building a company of one seems to reinforce the solitary nature of the whole thing.
But just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you have to work by yourself.
There are lots of people out there building businesses just like you, you don’t have to be a lone wolf.
They’re trying to build their own company of one and they’re going through the same struggles you are.
Trying to learn how to improve their marketing.
Trying to figure out how to integrate some new technology into their business.
Or struggling to gain a following on a new social platform.
They’re on social media. And in forums.
They’re at networking events, seminars and workshops.
Connect with them and build relationships.
Not only to help you through business problems, but to help you keep your sanity too.
Because building a business is hard. Don’t make it harder by trying to do it alone.
Company Of One Is A Good, Solid Read
I love the premise of the book.
More entrepreneurs need to purposefully build their business instead of just mindlessly chasing bigger and more.
And as we enter the Digital Age, where more people are going to be building businesses online, the idea of a Company Of One is going to become even more important for entrepreneurs to embrace.