Company of One by Paul Jarvis in one sentence: Start your business with the smallest form of your idea, reach profitability as fast as possible and make your decisions based on actual profit, not projections.
“Automation can happen later. Scale, if desired, can happen later. Infrastructure and process can happen later. Focus on where you can test the waters without a massive investment of time or money, and then pay attention to what happens when casual contacts turn into customers, even if it’s only a handful at first”
Company of One by Paul Jarvis in 10 takeaways:
1. Find a simple solution to a big or complicated problem.
2. Start with the smallest form of your idea. Take small steps.
3. You need to reach profitability as quickly as possible, no investors for cash flow. Don’t spend for results you HOPE to see. Spend based on actual results. Decisions should be made on actual profit, not projections. Overhead = death.
4. Educate. Teaching build expertise and trust like nothing else for a company of one.
5. Raise prices, not volume and raise your prices every year to keep up with inflation.
6. Prioritize retention over acquisition. Keeping your customers happy and helping them succeed reduces churn, increases repeat business and helps win new business. The more you understand your clients needs, wants, motivators and desires, the more you can serve them.
7. Keep promises and engage in consistent dialog with customers and you will build trust. Trust between consumers and customers is built three ways. 1. Confidence = I believe what you say. 2. Competence = I believe you have the skills to do what you say. and 3. Benevolence = I believe you’re acting on my behalf. Focus on relationships. But not only when you need something.
8. 83% of new business comes from word of mouth referrals. Recommendations are trust by proxy. Referrals are hard to scale but great for companies of one. Ask for testimonials a few months or weeks AFTER a project wraps up.
9. Scaling can dilute the brand and cause you to lose sight of what you set out to achieve in the first place.
10. You don’t have to be a lone wolf. Partners and contract work are your friends.
Final thoughts: If you are a talented, tiny business owner, this an excellent book to read. It of courses will give you the confidence to stay small, nimble and scrappy, but also to inspire you with a few new ideas. I loved the book and agree with how Jarvis feels. You really can have an incredible tiny business around what you love to do. Big is not the answer to sucess and happiness!
Why I write One Pages? I take an entire book and distill it down to one page for two reasons. First, to share the knowledge and second, to help my own absorption of it. Note that if I think the book is worth summarizing, I think it’s worth reading. I encourage you to read the book if this summary interested you!