CFD 521 – Paul Jarvis On The Company of One and Scaling Without Growth

Paul Jarvis is the bestselling author of Everything I Know and the new book Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business. He is a veteran of the online tech world, and over the years has had such corporate clients as Microsoft, Yahoo, Mercedes-Benz, Warner Music and athletes like Warren Sapp, Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal. He’s founded several start-ups, toured the US and Canada in the

band Mojave, and has worked as a web designer for almost two decades. Paul’s writing

appears in Fast Company, 99u, The Next Web, GOOD, Elephant Journal, Design Taxi, Medium.com and many other publications. With an international reputation as the designer whose vision and web design strategy builds multi-million dollar businesses, he teaches online courses, runs several software businesses, and hosts a handful of podcasts from his home on an island on the West Coast of Canada.

Podcast Highlights

  • Who is Paul Jarvis?

One of Paul’s favorite quotes is from Uncle Ben, the iconic “with great power comes great responsibility.” Paul has always been interested in the relationship between technology and people which is why when the internet started he realized there was an incredible opportunity available.

When Paul started out he was doing web design and he did that for 15 years. He loved working with the clients but not so much working for the agency, so he decided to leave but the clients sought him out and wanted to keep with Paul no matter where he went. This lead him to realize that he could just work directly with those clients and could just start a business instead.

  • Where did you get the courage to venture out on your own?

Having a client list was a big help but being focused on fostering the relationships in the first place was very important. It wasn’t just courage, Paul felt the fear but he acted anyway.

Paul wanted to be in control of the relationships that he had with his clients so freelancing was really his best option and that’s what drove him to go out on his own.

Paul is generally a little contrarian so he’s always done things a little differently.

  •    Company of One

A company of one doesn’t necessarily mean literally one person, it’s more about challenging the idea that growth is always good. People assume that the byproduct of business success is always getting bigger, Paul thinks the byproduct of success is more about getting to choose where and how you work and where you want to get bigger.

Growth can make sense, but it doesn’t have to.

A lot of people start their own business because they want freedom. They also tend to focus on the “what if” questions around failure but forget about the questions of what if they succeed? Entrepreneurs should be able to make decisions about how to spend their day and the work they do.

There are two stages to business, pre-enough and post-enough. In the first stage you take the work you can get because you have to. Once you have enough, you have more choices than you think you do. You can make choices in your business that line up with your values.

It’s more important to focus to the results than the traditional methodology of how to achieve those results, especially in the age of the internet.

  •    Scale Without Growth

Paul can reach 30,000+ people with the click of a button. Technology enables you reach people and scale a business without hiring more people. Adding more people is the easiest solution but not necessarily the best one.

It’s possible to build a business that has collaborative freelancers on the team instead of employees.

Whenever starting a business, Paul asks the question of “how would this cost to support and maintain?” If it’s too much, he won’t pursue that business. The trick to figure out at what size does a business have to be to be profitable. It’s important to figure out how to be profitable without crazy amounts of volume.

You can run into issues when your business outpaces profit with growth. Profitability creates durability.

Some people love managing, if you’re building on growth it is possible to add team members and still achieve your goals of freedom and lifestyle.

Reference: Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business, Paul Jarvis

  •    Paul’s Takeaway

Start to think about how you can make money tomorrow. Momentum is huge, people stall on their dreams because they don’t see progress. What can you do tomorrow that can make a difference for somebody that they would be willing to pay you for? Confidence comes from experience and every client will make you more valuable to the next person.

Links:

Company of One book

pjrvs.com

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