“Company of One” by Paul Jarvis

Rating: 3/5

I so wanted to love this book. As someone who just launched my “company of one,” I was excited to read about another person’s experience and learn what they learned. The problem with wanting to love a book is that it sets really high expectations. Some of those expectations were definitely met. I appreciated how Jarvis challenges the traditional paradigm that business success is tied to more: more revenue, more customers, more employees, more products, etc. Instead, he provides an alternative narrative that encourages a smaller and more personal approach to business and he makes a good case for making your business better rather than bigger. It was nice to hear that chasing money is not the right choice for everyone and that revenue and profits mean different things to different people. I think that I intellectually knew that before reading this book, but as someone who is new to the entrepreneurial world, it was a good reminder of why I made the decision to become a company of one. I also liked the emphasis that Jarvis puts on a lifestyle business and that regardless of size, business should represent your choice (at any given time) for how you want to live. He has one rule about growth and that is to always question it before going there. Where he lost me was in his argument that anyone (entrepreneur or employee) can operate as a “company of one.” In effect, he was using the “company of one” concept as a mindset rather than a business strategy. I found this confusing and a stretch. It distracted from the entrepreneurial story (which was really the story that I was looking for).  That said, I believe that if you get one or two nuggets out of a book, then it is worth reading. And I did get those nuggets. The one I am holding on to for now is, “There’s nothing wrong with finding the right size and then focusing on being better. Small can be a long-term plan, not just a stepping stone.” (p 34)