Company of One by Paul Jarvis | Lessons & Book Review

Title: Company of One

Author: Paul Jarvis

Category: Nonfiction, Business

Rating: 3/5

10-word summary: A company of one focuses on getting better, not bigger.

About Company of One

Company of One is a book with a simple message: you should question the idea of continuous growth and consider staying small. The author believes that having a company of one or a small team simply makes more sense in many cases. While this message seems counterintuitive, I think it makes a lot of sense.

In this book, the author focuses on reasons why staying small is a good idea, what advantages this can bring and ways to use this to differentiate yourself from big businesses. He gives many examples from people who work as companies of one and he also references studies that seem to support his philosophy.

I have to say that, after reading this book, I do believe a company of one seems like a wonderful idea – especially for an introvert like myself. But to be honest, while I love the philosophy presented in the book, I wasn’t that impressed by the book itself.

What I like about Company of One

1. I really like the philosophy of a “company of one”

The main idea behind the book is that you can be an entrepreneur, work for yourself and live life on your own terms. The way to do that is by operating like a company of one – which is not the same as being a freelancer.

The author questions the status quo of business which is always focused on growth – more employees, more clients and usually more expenses. He believes that you can focus on improving the quality of your services or products, earn more money and grow your impact – while still being essentially a company of one.

The idea is that staying small and working by yourself allows you to put your life first and your work second. Working in this way will allow you more flexibility and more freedom to make the most of your life. It sounds like a dream, right?

2. The author challenges the status quo and asks some good questions

I always like reading book written by people who challenge the status quo – especially when there’s a good reason to question it. I think the author does this very well and he asks some really good questions about company growth, work-life balance and more. Whether you agree with him in the end or not, his book definitely provides some food for thought.

3. He is honest and passionate about his message

I always enjoy reading a book when it’s obvious that the author is very passionate about the message they’re sharing. And I believe Jarvis is very passionate about promoting this intriguing business model.

He also seems to be very honest and frank and that made me like his book even more. I also believe he has some great values and principles when it comes to business. He’s definitely not the type of person to promote get-rich-quick schemes or ways to take advantage of people. It sounds like he truly believes in what he shares and he has earned my trust and appreciation.

4. It includes examples from research studies and stories from other professionals

I think you already know that I prefer to read science-based books. While I would not call this book science-based, the author does reference some studies that support his philosophy. And this makes me more likely to consider his views.

I also liked that he often shared examples from other people who operate as companies of one. These examples are great at illustrating the author’s view and at helping us imagine how we can implement the principles in the book.

5. It is easy to read

The book is very easy to read as the information in it is quite simple and often commonsensical. This is the kind of book that can easily be read in a weekend.

6. The book can be very useful for anyone who wants to start a small company

If you want to work for yourself as a company of one or in a small company, this book can be very useful. It will help you better understand the mindset you should have. It also includes some useful principle that can guide you in your endeavour. Some of the ideas in the book also apply to freelancers.

What I don’t like about Company of One

1. The term “company of one” is used loosely

The author uses this term to refer to a company of one – a person who is self-employed and provides products and services to clients or other companies. However, throughout the book, Jarvis also uses the same term to refer to small companies (of a few people) or to a person who works in a larger company but operates a bit more independently. While I understand that some of the principles of the book can be applies in different settings, I think this extended use dilutes the term and the entire philosophy of the book. I found this a bit misleading and disappointing.

I think it would have been better if the author only used the term “company of one” to denote businesses run by only one person. He could have added a separate chapter where he focuses on ways to operate by the “rules” of a company of one in different settings.

2. It wasn’t very interesting or informative (for me, at least)

I think the main philosophy of the book is very interesting and it is something I consider implementing myself. But the book itself was not that interesting, to be honest.

I quickly lost interest in the book because it had relatively few novel ideas. A lot of the information in the book is common sense, simple and well-known. Even though the book is easy to read, I couldn’t read a lot in a day simply because I was getting bored.

3. The book includes some very interesting ideas, but little practical advice

I liked that the book outlined several principles that are useful for anyone who wants to start a company of one. However, the book usually focused on principles and examples, but little on practical advice and steps to take. While I know many books do not give practical advice, I think it would have been a good idea to include some.

4. I think the book is longer than it needs to be

As I said before, I think the book was not that interesting – even though it has some great ideas! I think the author should have left out some stories and make his message more concise. I often say that most books really shouldn’t be as long as they are – this is one of those books, in my opinion.

Lessons from Company of One

Question the idea that bigger is always better

The author, Jarvis, challenges the status quo that is focused only on growth. Most businesses always try to expand and get more customers, more employees, more products and so on. This works for some companies or for some time, but many companies fail because they invested too much in their companies without generating actual profits. This should definitely make us at least reconsider this idea of constant growth.

Focus on getting better, not bigger

The idea is not to stagnate or give up, but to focus on getting better. The author thinks that companies of one can do very well without needing to expand. As long as you try to create better products, offer better services to your clients and increase your price if you need to, you won’t need to get bigger. Expanding your company often means more expenses, so only expand when it makes sense to do so.

A company of one gives you the freedom to live life on your own terms

One of the best things about working as a company of one is the freedom that comes with it. If you have no bosses and no employees, you can choose how and when you want to work – and when you don’t. You have more freedom to also pursue other things you care about in life.

Quotes from Company of One

“A company of one questions growth first, and then resists it if there’s a better, smarter way forward.”

“To start a company of one, you should first figure out the smallest version of your idea and then a way to make it happen quickly.”

“If your business is fully aligned with your purpose, you’ll be more motivated to keep at it, even during the tough moments.”

“The tired business advice that we should all ‘follow our passions’ implies that we are entitled to getting paid to do work that is always enjoyable.”

“People can copy skills, expertise and knowledge, which are all replicable with enough time and effort. What’s not replicable is who you truly are – your style, your personality, your sense of activism, and your unique way of finding creative solutions to complicated problems.”

“The benefit of a company of one is that you can build your lifestyle around it, optimizing for both profit and your own happiness.”

Should You Read Company of One?

Maybe. This book will be useful for you if you want to work for yourself or if you’re interested in building a company of one. You’ll learn more about the right mindset and some useful guidelines.

If you are not interested in business at all, then this book may not provide that much value for you. However you may want to read it to see if it inspires you to rethink your career plans.

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