Paul Jarvis’s opus “Company of One” touched a nerve when first published two years ago. He captured the minimalist trend by encouraging people to build businesses slowly and intentionally to create resilience, a sense of purpose and flexibility.

Yet, if you read it carefully, the whole book also serves as a calling card for his business, a memoir of his working years so far and promotion for his skills as a business strategist.

As he puts it: “a company of one questions growth and stays small on purpose.” (p26)

Main Premise

Jarvis outlines his own continual effort to build a resilient active business. He says that creative entrepreneurs should question growth, keep costs low and spend time doing the things we love.

He’s also big on taking responsibility for yourself as a way to create a viable economic model.

A company of one is a collective mindset and model that can be used by anyone, from a small business owner to a corporate leader, to take ownership and responsibility for what they do to become a valuable asset in any marketplace—in terms of both mental practices and business applications.”

Throughout the book, he introduces us to his mentors. The accountant neighbour who stops taking clients at the end of August so that he can go rock climbing. A cartoonist who left the corporate world to build a thriving business. The intrapreneurs who invented Post-it notes, the Sony PlayStation and Elixir guitar strings. A thriving business owner who regularly refuses proffered venture capitalist investment. Jarvis makes the case that each of these people run companies of one.

I highly recommend Company of One: Why staying small is the next big thing for business, by Paul Jarvis, First Mariner Books edition 2020, copyright 2018 by Twothirty Media Inc. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2019), ISBN 9781328972378.

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Paul Jarvis’s Advice

Here is some of Paul’s advice from the book that I loved:

“Start by helping one customer. Then another. This puts your focus on helping people immediately with what you’ve got available to you right now. Work on things like sales funnels and automation when it no longer makes sense to personal your interactions with your customers in surprising and delightful ways.” (pp115-116)

“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. It can be a small business owner or a small group of founders. Employees, executive leaders, board members, and corporate leaders who want to work with more autonomy and self-sufficiancy can adopt the principles of a company of one as well.”

“When you focus on doing business and serving customers in better and better ways, your company of one can end up profiting more from the same amount of work because you can raise the prices until your demand flattens out to where you can handle it.” (p163)

“A leader of a company of one has the role of enabling autonomy while providing alignment-setting processes and making sure there are common goals. Achieving this delicate balance can be challenging.”


Tracey Arial

Unapologetically Canadian Tracey Arial promotes creative entrepreneurship as an author, cooperative business leader, gardener, family historian and podcaster.

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