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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,277 ratings  ·  188 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
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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 ·  1,277 ratings  ·  188 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
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 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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Osvaldo Santana
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first part is really inspiring and contains not just justifications for staying small, but also some very good points on why that might put you in a better position. I am a freelance software developer for ten years now and the first part of the book made me even prouder of that, just because it confirms that following your gut feeling and instinct is the right thing to do. The meaning of success is defined by you and chasing the mainstream ideal of evergrowing numbers won‘t necessarily lead ...more
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
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 ...more
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
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
Eduards Sizovs
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book for freelancers or those who need the motivation to start his/her own business.
Willy Theodorus
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Staying small is the next big thing in business. A good insight for an early start this year. Love it!
Nicholas Kotar
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
So good that I got a hardcover copy to write in. Looking forward to diving deep on this one.
Mike Studdard
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
The writer is a “company of one” and speaks of many others like himself who run similar companies. I bought the book to get a better understanding of entrepreneurs like Jarvis. I have spent time with 70 entrepreneurs running large and small businesses. The very successful entrepreneurs who did not desire to hire others to grow, always seemed somehow counter to what I thought should drive them. So, I have always been intrigued by guys like Jarvis who are adamant about what they chose not to do.

Alison Jones
The premise behind this book is important: too often we go about business, indeed life in general, on the assumption that growth is good. More is more, bigger is better. Growth hacking is the holy grail: massive growth in as short a time as possible by whatever means necessary. Jarvis’s book is a powerful challenge to that thinking, in tune with wider trends such as ethical business, sustainability and personalization. What, he says, if we were to focus on ‘enough’ rather than more? This goes ...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 ...more
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
Blake Atwood
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.

Felipe CZ
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most companies usually want more, but companies of one reject this philosophy, adopting a more holistic view of life. They are different than traditional small businesses or freelancers. But the author gives advice on not quitting a company but setting your own project out of a side gig, turning it into passion, finding your niche, and embracing it with simplicity and personality, focusing on service and retention.
Victoria Klein
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bigger + faster = success?

Fellow freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners - is your main goal simply to grow as fast as possible? Is that why you started your business?

I hope the answer is No, but you may have gotten sucked into the world of obsessive growth, like may of us have. The first decade of my entrepreneur life was focused solely on growth which, ironically, is exactly what DID NOT happen.

Let's be clear: growth is good. Making money is good. But having a business that is
Rosie L
Jan 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
I try not to read business books, but having subscribed to Paul Jarvis’ newsletter for quite a while and loved his work, I assumed this would be at least readable. It isn't.

There are numerous problems with this book. For starters, it’s not clear what it’s trying to be. Jarvis flits between angles. At times, he claims to be commenting on a wider trend but doesn’t have any data beyond individual case studies to support this. At times, he gives advice for people attempting to launch small
Nalin Chuapetcharasopon
The title of this book immediately caught my eye while browsing through the local Library app.

More specifically, the subtitle stirred up curiosity: why staying small is the next big thing for business.

As a solo-preneur, I think about the idea of growth a lot. Do I want to hire? Do I want to grow? Who should I hire? How should I grow? Growth Hacking, coined by Sean Ellis, is a topic that’s on fire in entrepreneurial circles. Everything I read in the news about IPOs and startups tells me that I
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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.
“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.” 1 likes
“economies of scale can sometimes be required for success in certain markets and for some products, but often they aren’t required and it is ego, not a strong business strategy, that is forcing growth where growth isn’t necessary.” 0 likes
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