Paul Jarvis joins Charlie on the show today to talk about the ideas in his new book, Company of One. Some of the things they discuss are why we should question business growth, how having an upper limit in our business growth creates sanity and durability, and the relationship between intentionally keeping our businesses too small to fail, and playing it small.
[2:40] - Paul’s new book is about the mindset and philosophy around business, rather than a one-person business like the title might suggest. The book came about as he was formulating his ideas about questioning growth. Several people related to his ideas, and the book was chosen as the medium as the best way to teach what he had to share.
[8:11] - With the release of the book came a round of several interviews. Paul was able to use the content from these interviews to launch a podcast. Charlie and Paul talk about what makes a good interview, and how it’s especially important that all parties involved are engaged. This will make it interesting and engaging for listeners.
[10:45] - A “company of one” is a company that questions growth. The thesis of Paul’s book is not necessarily that growth is bad, but that it should have some critical thought put into it before deciding whether or not to proceed with it.
[11:15] - One of the big discussions in the book is upper bounds. Paul argues that there can be such a thing as too much growth. When we get caught up in trying to run our business in a way that we think it should be run, we lose sight of why we are running our business. Our choices should be driven by what will allow you to serve your target audience better.
[13:45] - Aristotle thought business was the only thing that seemed to want to grow infinitely. It often works this way, but it’s not necessarily that it does. Growth is required at the start, and we assume that’s always going to be the case. Paul’s view is that companies should grow to their organic natural size and no further.
[19:05] - When you want to grow your business, the important question to ask is why. Businesses should make people and the planet better, and if that’s not happening, what’s the point?
[20:10] - One of the strategies Paul talks about in his book is limiting the amount of capital and investment you need to get to minimum profitability. One of the risks here is that you don’t have enough product to fulfill demand. This amount is different for every company.
[24:05] - With any type of growth, you have to think about how it would serve your business, how it would serve your customers, and how it would affect your life. Every decision we make in our business has a related decision in other parts of our lives.
[26:05] - Investors are seeing that there are win-wins and ways to be profitable at a middle ground. If we can learn to love sustained growth over the long-term, that really changes the game. Chasing growth has actually caused some businesses to fail because they didn’t scale to expectations.
[31:35] - One of the reasons Paul wrote his book is for people who want to start a business but don’t resonate with the large-scale model. It would be a shame if they didn’t pursue their business because of that. It is important to make it work for you.
[33:45] - There is a difference between the mindset of playing small and running a business that’s too small to fail. The difference is between self-doubt and building something that’s durable. If you don’t want to proceed simply out of fear or self-confidence, that is a bad reason to not proceed. But if you want to run a small business, it’s important to consider what is enough in your business and also what you want your work life to look like.
[38:00] - There are no answers in the book, but there are ways to think about the problems that you’re having in your business (or the business you want to have). The book presents a wealth of questions to ask ourselves to get to the right answers for each of us individually.
[40:05] - Paul’s challenge for listeners is to think about these three questions in your own life or business: 1. How much is enough? 2. How will I know when I reach it? 3. What will change if I do?
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