It’s assumed that hard work and smart thinking always result in business growth. But the opposite is often true, not all growth is beneficial, and some growth can actually reduce your autonomy.
In truth, embracing growth appears to be the easier route more often than not, since it’s easier to throw ‘more’ at any problem that might pop up.
Want more customers? Hire more employees. Need more revenue? Spend more. Fielding more support requests? Build a bigger support team. But scaling up might not be the best or smartest solution to the basic problem.
As a means to generating higher profits, what if you acquired more customers simply by creating more efficiency, so you didn’t have to hire more people?
What if you responded to the growth in support requests by finding a better way to teach your customers how to use what you sell, so they didn’t have to ask questions as often?
What if you didn’t have to work more hours to finish a project but just more efficiently, so you could then enjoy more of your life away from work?
Growth, in the typical business sense, isn’t always a smart strategy if it’s followed blindly. Much of the research suggested that blind growth is the main cause of business problems.
It can leave you with an unmaintainable costs, and more work than hours in a day. It can force you to lay off employees, sell your company at a less than optimal price, or even worse, close up shop completely.
What if you worked instead towards growing smaller, smarter, more efficient and more resilient?
Staying small doesn’t have to be a stepping stone to something else, or the result of a business failure-rather, it can be an end goal or a smart long-term strategy.
The point of being a company of one is to become better in ways that don’t incur the typical setbacks of growth.
You can scale up revenue, enjoyment, and experiences while resisting the urge to blindly scale up employee payroll, expenses, and street levels. This approach builds both a profit buffer for your company to weather markets and a personal buffer to help you thrive even in times of hardship.
The ‘company of one’ approach doesn’t apply only to a single-person business-it’s a model for using the power of you to be more self-reliant and more responsible for your own career path.
Although a company of one can certainly be a small or single-person business, it’s unlike most small businesses, whose end game is usually expansion or growth to hit peak profitability. A company of one questions growth and stays small on purpose.
A company of one isn’t simply a practicing freelancer either. While freelancing is a perfect first step to becoming a company of one, freelancers are different because they exchange time for money.
Whether they’re getting paid by the hour or by deliverable, if they’re not working, they’re not getting paid. All of a freelancer’s relationships are one-to-one, meaning that each time paid work occurs, a freelancer has to do something and use his or her time.
In contrasts, a company of one is more in line with the traditional definition of an entrepreneur. If you’re utilizing systems, automation, process to build a long-term business, you’re not trading time for money, but instead operating and profiting outside of the time you spend working and beyond your one-to-one relationships.
For example, whether you’re creating physical products, selling software, or teaching online courses, customers and users can purchase and consume these products and services without your company of one putting in time for each transaction.
While developing products can be time-consuming and iterative, the number of customers can be almost infinite for a company of one, and profit then happens outside of time spent.
Where a company of one is concerned, as we’ll see in coming chapters, scaling customers and even profit doesn’t always require scaling employees or resources exponentially.
A company of one is a collective mind-set and model that can be used by anyone, from a small business owner to a corporate leader, to take ownership and responsibility for what they do to become a valuable asset in any marketplace- in terms of both mental practices and business applications.
It’s a blueprint for growing a lean and agile business that can survive every type of economic climate, and ultimately it leads to a richer and more meaningful life-no cable-cutting or moving to the woods on an island required.
The ‘company of one’ model can be laid out in a unique fashion: ‘start small, define growth, and keep learning’.