Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business
What if the real key to a richer and more fulfilling career was not to create and scale a new start-up, but rather, to be able to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one? Suppose the better—and smarter—solution is simply to remain small? This book explains how to do just that.
Company of One is a refreshingly new approach centered on staying small and avoiding growth, for any size business. Not as a freelancer who only gets paid on a per piece basis, and not as an entrepreneurial start-up that wants to scale as soon as possible, but as a small business that is deliberately committed to staying that way. By staying small, one can have freedom to pursue more meaningful pleasures in life, and avoid the headaches that result from dealing with employees, long meetings, or worrying about expansion. Company of One introduces this unique business strategy and explains how to make it work for you, including how to generate cash flow on an ongoing basis.
Paul Jarvis left the corporate world when he realized that working in a high-pressure, high profile world was not his idea of success. Instead, he now works for himself out of his home on a small, lush island off of Vancouver, and lives a much more rewarding and productive life. He no longer has to contend with an environment that constantly demands more productivity, more output, and more growth.
In Company of One, Jarvis explains how you can find the right pathway to do the same, including planning how to set up your shop, determining your desired revenues, dealing with unexpected crises, keeping your key clients happy, and of course, doing all of this on your own.
Book Review by Blake Atwood
Paul wouldn’t know it, but I’m one of his poster children.
Four years ago I leaped into becoming my own company of one as an author and editor. I knew how to write and how to edit, but I didn’t know how to run a business.
A friend who’d just made the same leap highly recommended an online course I “absolutely had to take.” That course was Paul Jarvis’s Creative Class. I attribute my business’s continued success to having taken that course.
So, I was thrilled to see “Company of One” coming soon.
I read it in a few days. It’s accessible and full of encouraging stories from other companies of one, including Paul’s own story. The book also provides plenty of arguments for why the company of one strategy—better, not bigger—may be the right fit for you.
Lastly, two quotes from the end may tell you if this book is for you:
“Enough is the antithesis of growth. Enough is the true north of building a company of one, and the opposite of the current paradigm promoting entrepreneurship, growth-hacking, and a startup culture.”
“Business success does not lie in growing something quickly and massively, but rather in building something that’s both remarkable and resilient over the long term.”
Thanks to Paul, I’ve built a company of one that’s so far proven resilient. Now, with the advice and encouragement of “Company of One,” I hope to make it remarkable.
“Jarvis makes a compelling case for making your business better instead of bigger. A must-read for any entrepreneur who prioritizes a rich life over riches.”
—CAL NEWPORT, bestselling author of DEEP WORK
“You’re not a machine, so why would you run your business like one? Company of One shows you another way. If you’ve ever wondered how to have a business that works for you—instead of the other way around—you need this book.”
—CHRIS GUILLEBEAU, bestselling author of SIDE HUSTLE and THE $100 STARTUP
“Growth has been hacked to simply mean “more”. More revenue, more customers, more employees, more products, more, more, more. That’s a tragically myopic view of growth. Paul Jarvis will help you open your eyes to a broader, wiser definition of growth. One of learning, one of betterment, one of contentment. There’s never been a more opportune time to launch or run companies that embrace having and being “enough”. The most important ingredient is a new world view. Company of One can give you just that.” —DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON, Creator of RUBY ON RAILS and Founder of BASECAMP
“Your business can thrive with less! Company of One is an riveting, lucidly written guide to run a successful minimalist business.” —Joshua Fields Millburn, host of The Minimalists podcast
“The default equation of more = better in business isn’t working anymore. If you want to build something that matters, make a difference for your family and the world, and actually enjoy what you do, Company of One offers the inspiration and step by step actions that will change the way you do business, and the way you do life.”
—COURTNEY CARVER, bestselling author of SOULFUL SIMPLICITY
“Paul Jarvis beautifully illustrates that “Small is the new big.” It’s true. It’s not about how many employees you have (or how many customers you serve). It is about “who” you are working with. This is a revolutionary idea for our times: build your business based on your values. There’s nothing small about that. This book is a treasure.”
—MITCH JOEL, founder, Six Pixels Group, and author of SIX PIXELS OF SEPARATION and CTRL ALT Delete
“Ever since starting MailChimp 18 years ago, I’ve always been told that my way was wrong. My way has never been to “be big.” My way was always to “be useful.” My company has become a global brand with millions of customers, over $525 million in annual revenue, and almost 1000 employees united by a single mission to empower companies of one. Go figure. There’s not one, right way. Only your way. Paul’s book can help you find your way.”
—BEN CHESTNUT, CEO and founder of MailChimp
“Company of One will give you invaluable insights to focus on the purposeful, interesting, and impactful work you actually love doing, right alongside permission to stop blindly chasing growth by defining success on your own terms. This book is great for freelancers, side-hustlers, and small business owners who are looking to bring autonomy, self-reliance, and creativity to their work without becoming total workaholics.
—KATHLEEN SHANNON and EMILY THOMPSON, authors/hosts of Being Boss
“Paul Jarvis is the savviest sole proprietor I know. This book is a permission slip to reject tired corporate business advice in favor of a smaller, slower, more personal approach. Amen.” —JOCELYN K. GLEI, host of Hurry Slowly
“A bright, useful entry in the small-is-beautiful genre.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Persuasive . . . Jarvis’s soothing guide is a good reminder that chasing the million-customer mark is not the right choice for every entrepreneur.”—Publishers Weekly
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From the Author
PAUL JARVIS is a veteran of the online tech world, and over the years he has had corporate clients such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Mercedes-Benz, Warner Music and even Shaquille O’Neal. These days, he teaches courses online and does consulting from his home on a remote island off of Vancouver.
Originally published: 15 January 2019