Learn the key ideas of the book by Paul Jarvis

Company of One

Why staying small in business is a great idea

The perfect work-life balance is achievable, you just need to have clear  expectations and agree with this concept: growth does not always equate to wellbeing. Being a “Company of One” means establishing rules of behaviour for yourself and how you treat your clients, it means favouring quality over quantity and evaluating and defining your limits. In other words: being creative and aiming for sustainability.

Company of One
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Making the choice not to grow: why be a “Company of One”?

Let’s begin with an idea that bucks the trend: growth does not always lead to well-being, not even when it comes to business. Consumer culture leads us to believe that “more” is always best. But wanting more doesn’t necessarily lead to the satisfaction and the happiness that it promises. For companies “not climbing the ladder” means not having to cover the costs of personnel and rent, avoiding the responsibility of managing other people’s work and having too many clients to keep up with.

Choosing to be a “Company of One” means consciously choosing a limited size and most of all it means deciding to build a company that fits around your lifestyle and not the other way around. In 2010 Tom Fishburne quit his job as vice president of marketing in a big company to become a cartoonist. This radical change in his professional life was not a step down: Tom created a stable project that was small but gave him the chance to build the life that he had always wanted, close to his wife and children, with a manageable daily routine and plenty of intellectual stimuli. Just like him, and Jarvis, many people leave a stressful career to reshape both their professional and their private lives.

When we talk about a “Company of One” we are describing the type of company that questions some traditional forms of growth. In principle, the “Company of One” is not opposed to growth but it does recognise that growth is not always the most advantageous plan, not even from a financial point of view. This type of business tends to promote controlled progress and quality. There are four typical traits of this business model: resilience, autonomy, speed and simplicity. 

We must be careful not to take the definition of “Company of One” too literally: these are often small groups and more importantly this is a working style that can be used by employees, managers and board directors: anyone who wants to work more independently can adopt the principles that this philosophy encompasses. We could all behave like “Companies of One” in our jobs.


The key ideas of "Company of One"

Making the choice not to grow: why be a “Company of One”?
The “Companies of One” that enrich big companies
The choice of autonomous work, a revolution driven by young people
Simplicity is the key to success, especially for start-ups
When is a company big enough?
The founding value of a “Company of One” is its purpose, which is also shared by its clients
Building a strong bond with your customers
How does a “Company of One” become profitable?
Take-home message

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