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Company of One

Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business

By Paul Jarvis
18-minute read
Audio available
Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Company of One (2019) presents an alternative philosophy of business success – one that turns conventional wisdom on its head by prizing less over more, small over large and niche over mass. In the course of laying out this philosophy, it also provides practical strategies for developing your own small-scale business enterprise – one that can provide you with enough free time, independence and income to live the life you want to live.

  • Workers seeking to escape the daily grind
  • Freelancers seeking to pivot into entrepreneurship
  • Businesspeople seeking to live a simpler life

Paul Jarvis is a web designer, writer, educator and entrepreneur who has been working for himself for about 20 years. His past clients include Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz and Warner Music. His writing and ideas have been published and profiled in magazines and outlets such as WIRED, Vice, Fast Company and USA Today.

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Company of One

Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business

By Paul Jarvis
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
Synopsis

Company of One (2019) presents an alternative philosophy of business success – one that turns conventional wisdom on its head by prizing less over more, small over large and niche over mass. In the course of laying out this philosophy, it also provides practical strategies for developing your own small-scale business enterprise – one that can provide you with enough free time, independence and income to live the life you want to live.

Key idea 1 of 11

Companies of one reject the philosophy of seeking growth for the sake of growth, adopting a more holistic view of life.

The ethos of modern capitalism can be summarized in a single word: “more.”

On one side of the economic equation, there’s the average consumer, who’s continually seeking to buy more products and services to consume.

On the other side, there’s the average business, which is continually seeking to sell more products and services to grow its profits. The moment it reaches one revenue goal, it sets the target even higher – $1 million, then $10 million and so forth.

In short, nothing is ever enough. Consumers and businesses alike are driven by an insatiable desire for evermore consumption and growth – generally speaking, at least. There are exceptions.

Joining the chorus of consumers who are trying to limit their consumption, some businesses are also starting to say “enough is enough.” In lieu of endless expansion, they’re seeking a more stable, satiable, and sustainable approach to growth.

By exercising self-restraint, these businesses can pursue a financial goal that turns the traditional corporate model on its head. That goal is simple: to earn just enough revenue to enable their owners and employees to secure the amount of comfort, autonomy and free time that they want their lives to have.

By turning that desire into the center of gravity around which their operations are focused, these businesses are able to revolve around the individuals who run them, rather than the other way around. Those individuals become the businesses’ unit of measure – a unit of one. Whether they consist of a single owner-operator, a team of a couple hundred employees or something in between, we can therefore call them companies of one.

Counterintuitively, whereas most businesses set ever-escalating growth targets, companies of one set firm growth limits to keep themselves small. For example, Sean D’Souza runs a company of one called Psychotactics, which provides consultancy services. His growth limit is $500,000 in profit per year. Even though he could make more money if he wanted to, he purposefully chose to restrict his company to this profit goal.

Why not more? Well, to borrow a famous line from rapper the Notorious B.I.G.: more money, more problems. Generally speaking, more profits require more production, sales and customers, which, in turn, require more employees, infrastructure and bureaucracy. That means more exhaustion, oversight and work time, which means less comfort, autonomy and free time. And that defeats the whole purpose of starting a company of one!

For his part, D’Souza would rather be playing with his kids and taking three-month vacations. If you feel a similar way, then a company of one might be the way for you to go as well!

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