Company of One: Why Staying Small Is The Next Big Thing for Business - by Paul Jarvis

Company of One

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Great read offering a different perspective on business and creating a life you can enjoy and control without endlessly pursuing infinite growth.

Recommendation: 4/5

My Highlights

Sometimes "enough" or even less is all we need, since "more" too often equates to more stress, more problems, and more responsibilities in both life and business.

A company of one is simply a business that questions growth.

A company of one resists and questions some forms of traditional growth, not on principle, but because growth isn't always the most beneficial or financially viable move.

If you're a company of one, your mind-set is to build business around your life, not the other way around.

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

...four typical traits of all companies of one: resilience, autonomy, speed, and simplicity.

Being or becoming a company of one has a lot to do with resilience: the capacity and fortitude to recover quickly from difficulties...

The first trait that resilient people have is and acceptance of reality.

The second characteristic of resilient people is a sense of purpose — being motivated by a sense of meaning rather than by just money. Although purpose and money are not mutually exclusive, you're more likely to be resilient when you know that even in awful or stressful situations, you're working toward a greater and larger good.

The last trait of resilient people in a company of one is the ability to adapt when things change...

...being a company of one lets you control your own life and you job.

...companies of one even within a larger business, need to be generalists who are good at several things — often all at once.

Companies of one work best under constraints — because that's where creativity and ingenuity thrive.

Speed is not merely about frantically working faster. It's about figuring out the best way to accomplish a task with new and efficient methods.

The fewer staff and less external funding involved, the fast a company can move, whether forward or in a new, more promising direction.

For a company of one at any size, simple rules, simple processes, and simple solutions typically win.

...companies of one routinely question everything they do. Is this process efficient enough? What steps can be removed and the end result will be the same or better? Is this rule helping or hindering our business?

For a company of one to succeed, a strategy for simplifying isn't just a desirable goal but an absolute requirement. Having too many products or services, too many layers of management, and/or too many rules and processes for completing tasks leads to atrophy. Simplicity has to be a mandate.

Whether your audience is ten people, a hundred people, or even a thousand people, if you're not doing right by them, right now, nothing you do regarding growth or marketing will make a lick of difference. Make sure you're listening to, communicating with, and helping the people who are already paying attention to you.

If growth happens too quickly, problems can arise — like not being able to hire fast enough to keep up, or not having enough infrastructure to handle increased volume. The lower limit can be important, for example, if you need to make enough revenue to be profitable.

Who we are and what we actually want become overshadowed when we internally compare ourselves to others.

When we give in to envious feelings, the best we can hope for is second best, since we're focused on copying someone else's path and not forging our own.

We don't need an attitude of world domination and crushing it in our work in order to make a great living or even have a substantial impact. Our work can start and finish small while still being useful — focused on moving toward better instead of more.

Being able to understand how others think is critically important to a company of one. You need to know how and why people make decisions about your products or services. What leads them to buy what you create? What makes them hesitate? Where do they place value in their lives? If they do buy from you, what is considered a win for them? Where does churn happen in your business and why?

The more we can learn about how to communicate clearly and effectively, the better we'll be at leading, as our directives will be better understood.

We should never assume that having an abundance of knowledge is the same as having an abundance of wisdom.

...much of business is a guess.

A company-of-one leader has to become an expert at deftly saying no.

By saying no to anything that won't serve your business or your team, you can open up space to focus on better opportunity in your business. You need to learn how to evaluate those options quickly and figure out which ones are good to pursue and which ones to say no to.

Decision-making can be mentally taxing and draining, and when that happens, many people start to make bad decisions because they're tired of deciding. By scaling down large, stressful decisions into smaller, more digestible decisions, you can choose a direction more quickly, in a smarter way, and with less stress involved.

Interestingly, Oats found that hustlers don't outperform nonhustlers; the only noticeable impact of their hustling is higher job stress, greater work-life conflict, and deteriorating health. His research found no relationship between workaholism and greater financial reward or self-efficacy.

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.

Rand's first insight is that self-awareness is an absolute requirement. By fostering the ability to notice things about yourself — your own depression, for example — you can remove or put into remission the so-called power tumor. The more you get to know yourself, what your triggers are, and what personally drives you outside of external motivation, the more you can optimize a healthy role for yourself as a leader.

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. Automation can happen later. Scale, if desired, can happen later. Infrastructure and process can happen later.

...waiting until everything is totally perfect can only hurt or delay your launch.

A true 'need to have" is whatever will make your idea fall apart if you don't have it.

Your why matters as an unseen but ever-present element that drives your business.

Your purpose is the lens through which you filter all your business decisions, from the tiny to the monumental.

...purpose creates positive outcomes...

When you focus on solving problems or on making a difference, passion may follow, because you're actually involved in the work you're doing instead of just dreaming that you might be passionate about something. Cal Newport...argues that passion is the side effect of mastery.

Engaging work comprises four key components: clearly defined assignments, tasks you excel at, performance feedback, and work autonomy.

Taking action and doing work, as a first step, create momentum, and this momentum happens when you're caught up in — and enjoying — the process of your work, not its possible outcomes.

A Microsoft Research study found that attempting to focus on more than one priority at a time reduces productivity by as much as 40 percent, which is the cognitive equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Research done by Hewlett-Packard found that the IQs of employees who were interrupted by email, calls, or messaging were reduced by more than ten points...

When you are a company of one without a team or employees, you have to generate your own momentum and motivation to get work done. It's up to you to set your schedule, manage obligations, and avoid distractions.

...for every interruption, it takes an average of twenty three minutes and fifteen seconds to fully get back to the task. Fewer distractions means speedier work. have to be relentless in protecting your own schedule and workload.

Personality — the authentic you that traditional business has taught you to suppress under the guise of "professionalism" — can be your biggest edge over the competition when you're a company of one.

Don't just ask consumers to pay attention to your business. Instead, start doing the kinds of unique and unusual things that attract attention in order to make you business distinct.

Derek Sivers, the former CEO of CDBaby, says that we should proudly exclude people, because we can't please everyone. That way, when someone hears our message directed specifically at them and no one else, they'll be drawn toward our message (and will pay attention).

...there's power in polarization. If we try to appeal to everyone, we won't appeal to anyone in particular, muddying our message.

...Kawasaki believes, we should create products that make specifically identified groups of people very happy and ignore everyone else. The worst-case scenario is inciting no passionate reactions from anyone — no one caring enough about a product to talk about it at all, either positively or negatively.

Sell your way of thinking as much as you would a commodity. Polarization can shorten a sales cycle because it forces customers into a quicker binary choice, to decide yes or no.

If you treat your customers like they're your one and only customer, they'll reciprocate that love for your brand by not only continuing to do business with you, but telling their own networks to do so as well.

...research done by SmallBizTrends found that a staggering 83 percent of new business comes from word-of-mouth referrals.

Referrals work because they build trust by proxy.

Keeping your launch simple lets you avoid roadblocks in getting your product to market and then sharing it with the market.

...building relationships by banking social capital leads directly to higher sales...

Social capital works because it fosters reciprocity.

Ideas and dreams are nice, but they're also cheap and meaningless if you don't take action and do the work to make them happen.


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