I read a lot of business books. Most of them come from the same point of view and all of them hone in on the keys to a successful business–Providing value. But The Company of One was different from many other books I read in that it encourages you not to scale your business and become the next big corporation. The idea behind The Company of One is to start small and stay as small. Yeah, this is a whole new concept for the “American dream”.
I don’t actually remember how I discovered Paul Jarvis, all I know is that I’ve been on his newsletter for years. It’s the only newsletter I look forward to getting and can’t wait to read Sunday morning with my cup of tea in hand. I’m actually disappointed when he goes on his twice a year sabbatical from writing it. This is already a sign that Jarvis knows how to provide value. It’s rare that he asks for anything in his newsletter. Occasionally he’ll pitch a product or ask you to take a survey. The value I get from his newsletter I share with everyone. And being in marketing and branding, that’s a lot of people to spread the word to.
When I first heard that Jarvis had a book out, I was excited to see what he had to offer. I didn’t expect to be blown away from the concept. The first time I read this was a couple of years ago when I was working for a film festival. A lot of these same ideas still worked even though I wasn’t my own company. I could represent a company of one within an organization. And that’s the art of this book. There is no limit to who can be a company of one. The same qualities apply.
So what are these qualities that a company of one attains? Let me give you a quick breakdown:
How To Be A Company of One
Reduce The Cost Of Business
To start a business you need to keep your costs at an all-time low so that you can start making a profit. You still don’t know if this is going to be a success. By going in with a Minimal Viable Product, the least expensive and most basic thing you can have in order to start bringing in money, you give your company a chance to avoid debt and to start growing. This also leads to another point I’ll get to in a minute about launching as quickly as possible.
One of Jarvis’ biggest suggestions is to avoid taking venture capital. This often comes with strings attached and inhibits you from staying small. When you have investors who want to make a profit off your business it’s almost impossible to stay as a Company of One. Often meaning you’ll need to expand in ways you might not want to.
As I stated above, it’s important to launch quickly. You want your product out in the world so that you can get feedback and make Improvements. You want to start building profit to prove that this idea works. Most importantly, you want to be providing value as soon as you can.
Know Your Audience
Identify the specific audience that you want to serve right down to the type of underwear they were. Okay, that might be a little too detailed but you get the point. You want to know you specific audience inside and out so that you can provide as much value as possible. Which leads to the next component, give it away.
Why You Should Give It Away For Free
It’s actually amazing how many marketing books and experts say this and yet we’re all still so afraid of giving away our knowledge or free trials. Here’s the thing I’ve been a part of Jarvis’ newsletter for years. I couldn’t tell you how many people I’ve suggested his newsletter or book too. Even now, I’m writing a blog post that will backlink to his website supporting his SEO and put him in front of a new audience. All because I follow his newsletter and checked a book out from the library. He gave away all that he knows, I can’t help but tell anyone I know who I think would find value in it.
This isn’t just a benefit for him, it’s a benefit for me. By having the social currency of knowing about him and this content and then being able to give it away for free myself, (directing my audience to his free resources) I become a trusted resource too. So now, he gets hundreds of more eyes on his work with the potential to make a sale and I get the social currency of being in the know and providing more value.
Free is a win-win-win situation so don’t think that giving too much away for free is going to hurt you. Instead, focus on the value that you can be providing to your audience to build trust and a platform.
Create Your Definition of Success
This is the most important part of being a conscious business–You need to define your version of success. The American way is that success is always one more step ahead of you. A moving finish line where X amount of dollars becomes so ridiculous it really doesn’t even matter anymore. In most cases, the soul of the business and the person are lost by the time you might have “made it”. So get clear on what Success means for you and lay out that finish line long before you even start.
Of course, this is just the beginning to everything you have to learn from Paul Jarvis in The Company of One. From marketing suggestions to creating systems to building relationships, he covers it all in this amazing book. Basically, if you are starting a conscious business or to find meaning within a larger company, you need this book. You’ll come back to it again and again. I can’t suggest this book highly enough!