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Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,778 ratings  ·  296 reviews
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 refreshin
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  2,778 ratings  ·  296 reviews

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Feb 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Unfortunately, this book was not what I expected, and I ended up skimming the last half of the book. Paul Jarvis argues that companies do not have to constantly scale, nor have a growth mindset, nor add employees. Individuals can be "companies of one," outsourcing or hiring contractors when they need to, but effectively keeping their companies small and manageable while still being successful. This might make for an easier, happier life, especially balancing work with a personal life. I couldn't ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 3.5 stars. The author lives in Canada where healthcare is affordable and becoming self-employed or starting a small business can be a realizable dream. In the US where the cost of healthcare insurance is outrageous, it would be risky to quit a corporate job to be your own boss. Some of the tips are good whether you're self-employed or have a side gig (like finding your purpose, listening to customers, creating better products, and building trust in your brand). The main point is ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I finished *Company of One*. This book seems to be a series of affirmations about starting and running a small business online. Its central argument is that small businesses are more nimble and can care more about their customers, and this is both good for profit, good for the psychological wellbeing of the owner, and good for society as a whole. I agree with this.

If you care about this space at all you’ve read almost everything in this book already when you read Jason Fried and DHH’s books. Whi
Poornima Vijayashanker
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Paul Jarvis does a great job of highlighting the importance of why we need to question growth as it relates to our both our personal and professional goals.

Throughout the book, Jarvis offers examples and alternatives to commonly held beliefs around building, running, and leading a company.

The Company of One doesn’t mean to be prescriptive or claim that there is only one way of doing business. Rather it’s building awareness for what is changing, and how those changes could help you. For example,
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important milestone

This book tied together a lot of recent ideas and trends, from digital minimalism to Marie Kondo, that have in common a simpler and more intentional view of what constitutes success and happiness. This book questions perhaps the deepest and most fundamental assumption of business: that growth is an unmitigated good. And that growth at all costs is the unquestionable premise of all business. That’s not the case anymore, and Jarvis has done a fantastic job making the case for so
Adii Pienaar
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must-read! Finished the book with so many new ideas and new energy to build a business in a new way. We need more of this!
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
What i liked about this book is not about the „American way of doing things”. Its not follow your passion, etc but work smart on small things, decide if you want to grow, if not, it's ok, its not bad.

This is not a book about staying small, is about everything, and imo this is misleading. It should end after 100 pages it would be enough.

Be creative, best on people, be unique. it's basically a good book about what we can do to have a good life without working in corp. you can be huge but you do
Mitalee | TheAvidBookerfly
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: w-book-summaries
Key message -
Companies of one are small-scale business enterprises that purposefully stay small in order to provide their owners with a sustainable income, a high degree of independence and a healthy work-life balance. Freelancing can be a good stepping stone to starting such an enterprise, and you can develop one by leveraging the power of a marketable skill set, a niche audience, mutually beneficial relationships, simplicity, personality, technology and great customer service.
Actionable advic
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
I've been reading articles by Paul Jarvis for years, so I had high expectations for this book – I even pre-ordered it months before release.

I got the impression this book was not intended for experienced business owners. Apart from some interesting trivia and research references, there was nothing new mentioned that I haven't already applied in my own business.

Paul's definition of a “company of one” is quite different from my definition, and so the majority of the book doesn't apply to the kind
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I didn't find this book flowed well, and while the bullet points at the end were interesting, the rest seemed to drag. The concept of staying small is appealing, but there is a lack of helpful information that can be easily found and applied. Bigger is better is the general premise of most business books, and while this book's goal is staying small, it just felt like it fell short to me. ...more
Yury Chudnovsky
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've put 5 stars for this book, because it was just in time for me. Together with "It doesn't have to be crazy at work", those two books supported me in my decision to actually start moving towards my personal Company of one. ...more
Nick Hernandez
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
Author tries to explain a “company of one” by drawing similarities between solo entrepreneurs and people at companies. I just didn’t get it. If he stuck with solo entrepreneurs being a company of one, the book would have been more on track.
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're already a company of one and have decided this is how you want to stay, there's not much to learn from this book. It will only serve as validation that you're not crazy for making this decision and the author will show you a few successful companies of one.

The book is repetitive and offers important information that might not be new to you since you're already a company of one.

I would only recommend it if you're contemplating exploring this path, but if you've already made the decisio
Gio Lodi
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Company of One Paul Jarvis challenges the mainstream belief that for a company to be successful it has to grow and keep growing. Companies that question growth, whether made up of a single person like Paul's business, or by many employees like some of the ones profiled in the book, have strategic advantages compared to huge enterprises. No only they can be profitable, but actually thrive in the marketplace.

By focusing on serving existing users rather than investing in advertisement and paid a
Osvaldo Santana Neto
If it's your first book about bootstrap/lifestyle business, you will rate this book with five stars. But it was not my case.

This book is kind if a summary of the $100 Startup and ”It doesn't have to be crazy at work.”

The intermediate chapters are painfully repetitive and could be pointed as a "list of companies of one."

Good parts? The introduction (with references to Ricardo Semler) chapter and the final chapters that gives some essential hints to start a Company of One.
Mike Weston
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enough and better are goals that should characterize our pursuits more than the endless passion growth. Love Jarvis’ challenge to begin with the end in mind and then create an organization with the strategies that allow you accomplish the life you desire.
Jacek Bartczak
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Book plenty of good business tips but none of them is new or spectacular. Or maybe it is about me - in last years I implemented many of those tips or told do so other companies (or I read about them somewhere else).

That book may be good for you if:
- didn't read much about the business yet - so you need to know basics quickly,
- your business knowledge comes from startup's "hustle and grow 10x culture" - so you will get to know the less crazy perspective
- you work in business but in a precisely s
Martijn Reintjes
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Company of one describes my way of entrepreneurship. I've always been different, as that I don't care about money or working long hours, I care about building cool things that people find useful.
It was refreshing to have a lot of my business practices put in some context.

Some quotes from the book:
- the “company of one” model can be laid out in a similar fashion: “start small, define growth, and keep learning.”
- Start out as simple as possible, and always fervently question adding new layers of c
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: personal-library
I guess this isn’t what I expected - I was hoping for practical application. He has questions at the end of each chapter (“start thinking about”) but otherwise it felt like a regurgitation of business concepts I’ve read elsewhere. I also didn’t need to be convinced; I’ve been running a company of one for years.

I guess read this if you have doubts about the advantages of staying small, but personally, I would have liked to read more about how to manage subcontractors, strategies for determining w
I honestly expected a lot more hands on stuff from Paul, but I understand he saved that up for the accompanying course. Smart move.

The book has a lot of stories, quotes, it's a well researched publication, without a lot of original thought. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, it's certainly valuable for business newcomers, but I found very few new things in it (which is of course is not the book's fault. well, no one's really).

For me, the power lies in the confirmation - a lot of things I've d
Mark Sylvester
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, goals-2019
This book definitely made me re-evaluate a number of assumptions about what I thought a "healthy" business is and should look like. Author presents a broader, much more balanced picture of how growth can and should fit into your life (family, work, hobbies, desired lifestyle, serving customers BETTER vs. serving MORE customers), what steps to take to develop a "company of one" mindset, and questioning growth for growths sake! Definitely against the grain with regard to the current start-up/growt ...more
Chris Raastad
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Company of one brings to life the ideas brewing I've had brewing about business and companies for a few years now. The main idea is easily digestible in the first chapter: staying small is powerful. There is a way to build a career where your work works around life and life doesn't have to sacrifice for work. 9-5 and salary work does not incentivize productivity, does not incentivize quantifying "enough work is done today" and going home early. This book questions the entire ve ...more
Otavio Albano
Having a "company of one", I started this book really excited on reading about people that think like me: you don't have to have a never-ending growth to be successful and lead a well-balanced life. But the author contradicts himself many, many times throughout the book. Just to give an example, he starts talking about entrepreneurs that spend their afternoons surfing and enjoying life and then says that you should be available 24/7 for your clients to keep them happy... I expected much more fro ...more
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really good book on the disadvantages of scaling up your business. Goes into diseconomies of scale and the inefficiencies inherent in the corporation model. Very good
Kieron Botting
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. A decent read for anyone in the nervy/early start up phase or someone asking questions about the next moves for growth.

Having developed a business in the drinks industry it’s easy to assume that growth has to equal bigger...

Bigger venues, bigger teams, bigger/better/more resource tools.

At these times there have been many hiccups made by myself. Most often at the acquisition of new sites, with the subsequent scaling up of operation.

In our business, growth traditionally hasn’t e
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Disappointed in general with this book. It contained very little new information and a lot of generalizations, where I was hoping for case studies. Errors also contribute to the impression this wasn't well-researched. The one chapter that was interesting was about how Jarvis structures his own business. Some quotes:

"I’ve always figured my base salary as the average I’ve made in profit (not revenue) for the last twelve months, minus 25 to 30 percent (to set aside for taxes)."
"Because I like
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book I any easy read with some good information in it. I loved not only his philosophy (“you don’t have to grow big - it’s okay to stay small and have enough”), but also his viewpoint on growing: start with a few small customers and focus on making they’re experience incredible. This not only makes them a customer for life, but also means you’re building a great product that will help you later if you do want to grow bigger.

To be honest, a lot of this book was a rehash for me of a variety
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Company of One was required reading for my entrepreneurship class, and I can confidently say that this book is the most actionable AND enjoyable required readings I have ever read.

Because of this book, I started my own company of one. I was inspired by how simple Paul Jarvis made starting a business: all you need is to solve a problem for one paying customer.

Company of One has a little bit of fluff, but with a more choosy editor, this book would have been five stars. Great stories, great practic
Odd Ropstad
The core idea is great, but there is a lot of fluff. Should only be read if you are interessted in learning about the benefits of staying small, since the rest of the book is pretty general business principles that sometimes feels like digretions. Luckily the book is short. But it should have been shorter. The first part and the ending are the most interesting as those are the parts he pinpoints the core idea as well as his own experiences. The middle is just an attempt to piece the book togethe ...more
This book is an introduction to the 'Company of One' concept. I found it interesting and it had some good key informations, but it could have been way shorter. It got a bit bored with all the examples. ...more
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Paul Jarvis is a veteran of the online tech world, and over the years has had such corporate clients as Microsoft, Yahoo, Mercedes-Benz, Warner Music and even Shaquille O'Neal.

​Today, he teaches online courses, runs several software businesses and hosts a handful of podcasts from his home on an island on the West Coast of Canada.

News & Interviews

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
54 likes · 9 comments
“From an evolutionary point of view it is explainable why we wanted to gather more and more: with more food, more water, more protection against predators, we may be less likely to die. But today, growth feeds our ego and social standing.” 2 likes
“In saying no to anything that doesn’t fit, you leave room to say yes to those rare opportunities that do fit—opportunities that align with the values and ideas of your business.” 1 likes
More quotes…