Self Help

Company of One - Paul Jarvis

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 39 min read

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  1. Begin - Contains chapters on defining a company of one, staying small as an end goal, what’s required to lead a small business, and growing a company that doesn’t grow.

  2. Define - Focuses on determining the right mindset for a small business, the importance of personality, having one key customer, using scalable systems, and teaching everything you know.

  3. Maintain - Covers properly utilizing trust and scale, launching and iterating in small steps, the value of relationships, the author’s personal story of starting a company of one, and arguments for never growing up or beyond what’s needed.

There is also an afterword and epilogue wrapping up the content. Additional resources include notes and an index.

In summary, the book provides advice and strategies for business owners who want to run successful companies while staying intentionally small and not dealing with the challenges that come from growing in size or headcount unnecessarily. It advocates scaling smarter instead of just larger.

A company of one is an approach to business that questions unlimited growth and instead focuses on sustainability, autonomy, and balancing work with other aspects of life. Key aspects include:

  • Staying small deliberately rather than aiming to expand through hiring and infrastructure growth.

  • Using systems, automation and outsourcing to scale impact and profits without directly scaling the business itself.

  • Building resilience to endure economic downturns with a lean operation not reliant on high overhead.

  • Allowing the business owner to maintain a work-life balance and spend meaningful time on other priorities like family or passions.

  • Questioning consumerist ideologies that equate “more” with happiness and success, and demonstrating financial success is possible with less.

  • Taking ownership of one’s career path rather than relying on a single employer for stability through entrepreneurship and a self-sufficient business model.

The company of one approach shows that growth for its own sake is not necessary, and profits, impact and satisfaction can be achieved through innovative solutions instead of conventional business expansion strategies.

The movement of “companies of one” is growing beyond just cash-strapped startups. It involves individuals and businesses making six and seven figures who are happier than traditional business owners.

A company of one is technically anyone who looks out for their own best interests, even within a larger company. Being a company of one fosters autonomy, speed, simplicity and resilience. It questions the need for constant growth and focuses on sustainability over growth for growth’s sake.

Large companies have benefited from “intrapreneurs” - individuals who act autonomously within the company to drive innovation. Google and Facebook support this through programs that give employees flexibility.

Traits of companies of one include resilience in adapting to changes, autonomy in their work, ability to work quickly and nimbly, and operating with simplicity rather than overextending. The movement challenges traditional ideas of success being defined by constant growth and scaling up. It argues growing a business may not always be the best path for its longevity.

The passage discusses how having a sense of autonomy and control is important for companies of one to be resilient in doing their essential work. It notes that competence in core skills is tied to autonomy, as you need to be skilled in your work to have true control over it. While early in one’s career more training under others is important, companies of one aim to break standard rules for the greater good. Autonomy can be learned through gaining experience and skills either as an employee or freelancer. Large companies that empower autonomy, like through flexible work policies, can see greater productivity. Freelancing is increasingly popular as a way for younger workers especially to gain more control over their careers. Overall, developing expertise in one’s field through dedicated work leads to the ability to direct one’s work and maintain resilience.

  • Kaitlin is able to accomplish tasks much faster as a solo freelancer compared to when she worked at an agency, giving her more flexible schedule.

  • Sol Orwell has refused venture capital for his profitable business because he values control and independence over quick profits or growth.

  • To be successful as a solo entrepreneur/company of one requires generalist skills like sales, marketing, project management, and client retention in addition to core technical skills.

  • Working under constraints can foster creativity and prioritization. Companies like Basecamp implement a 4-day workweek in summer to encourage smarter, more efficient work.

  • Solo entrepreneurs can pivot more quickly when markets change since they have less infrastructure and bureaucracy.

  • Pinboard acquired rival bookmarking site Delicious for just $35k after Delicious grew complex with features and changed owners while Pinboard remained simple and focused.

  • Companies of one regularly question processes and rules to simplify and avoid complexity that distracts from the core mission and wastes time. Simplicity is a requirement for success as a solo venture.

  • The passage discusses the benefits of keeping a business small and simple rather than always pursuing growth. It argues that growth for growth’s sake is not a good strategy and often leads businesses to fail.

  • It profiles Sean D’Souza, who purposefully keeps his consultancy small with an annual profit goal of $500k. He focuses on serving existing customers well rather than marketing for growth. This strategy allows him to maintain a enjoyable lifestyle while still being profitable.

  • Studies cited found that the majority of high-growth startups and fastest growing companies failed because they scaled up too quickly without being self-sustaining. Growth should not be the primary focus.

  • Venture capital can be risky as it may pressure companies to prioritize investor interests over customers. Most long-term successful companies did not take VC money.

  • The passage advocates determining the optimal size for a business and focusing on quality over endless growth as a better path to success than always pursuing expansion. Sometimes staying small can be a wise long-term strategy.

  • Excessive growth as an end goal often requires complex systems and resources that are difficult to manage and sustain. This can pull focus away from the core business.

  • Danielle LaPorte likens this to “feeding the Beast” - as her business grew, she found herself busier managing complex systems and infrastructure than focusing on her original purpose.

  • Even large companies like Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and faced problems when they prioritized too much growth and expansion over their core offerings. This diluted their brands and drove unsustainable spending.

  • Not all businesses need to scale infinitely to succeed. Leah Andrews focuses on creating unique snow globes one at a time instead of scaling production. This allows her to charge high prices and grow profits without complex scaling.

  • Chasing infinite growth pulls focus from current customers’ success to chasing new leads and targets. Sometimes slow, methodical growth focused on existing customers is more sustainable than aggressive scaling.

So in summary, excessive focus on growth as the goal can pull companies away from their core purpose and create unsustainable resource demands, while slower, profit-driven growth centered on customers may be a wiser strategy.

  • Traditionally, having a small business was seen as just a starting point or only for limited success, but now some businesses choose to stay small intentionally. Technology allows one person or a small team to accomplish a lot with few resources.

  • WordPress closed its large office because employees rarely used it, showing offices aren’t always necessary. Digital nomad Pieter Levels runs a successful online service from anywhere in the world as a sole proprietor.

  • Brennan Dunn built automated sales systems so his business generates revenue whether he’s present or not. By scaling back resources, he spends less time on work but earns more.

  • Tools that used to require expensive software or teams can now be done cheaply and easily by one person, like managing a large mailing list or sharing files.

  • Working for yourself isn’t necessarily riskier than traditional jobs, which are less secure now. Miranda Hixon runs her small design business successfully based on lessons from her father’s sole proprietorship. Staying small allows flexibility and autonomy.

  • The passage discusses focusing on setting upper bounds or limits for business growth, rather than just focusing on minimum goals and constantly chasing higher growth. Setting reasonable upper limits can help maintain sustainability.

  • It gives the example of Southwest Airlines turning down over 95% of city expansion offers in the 1990s to focus on controlled growth they could sustain, unlike other airlines at the time.

  • Cultural pressures and ego can push businesses to constantly seek more growth through comparing themselves to larger competitors. But true success is defining it on your own terms rather than sizes of other businesses.

  • Envy of other more prominent businesses’ scale can take the focus off one’s own work and customers. It involves only seeing the end results of others but being aware of all the work required in one’s own business. Setting reasonable limits based on one’s own values and goals is healthier than constantly competing.

  • The passage advocates finding ways to be pleased by others’ successes while still forging one’s own path, rather than letting envy of larger businesses affect one’s decisions and self-image. Setting upper limits guided partially by sustainability and customer needs rather than just external comparisons.

  • Leading a company of one does not require a traditionally charismatic or dominant personality. Quieter, more introspective individuals can still be effective leaders through storytelling, setting ambitious goals, and building trust.

  • Introverted leaders may be well-suited for leading skilled autonomous teams since they are good listeners and stay focused without needing much interaction. However, introverts still need to overcome perceptions that extroversion is better for leadership.

  • “Servant leadership”, which emphasizes empowering and serving others, can be very effective for companies of one since it builds cooperation and elevates the whole team.

  • Individuals can structure their business and leadership style around their own strengths and personalities rather than trying to mimic stereotypical leadership. For example, an introvert may focus on online teaching rather than public speaking.

  • Providing complete autonomy is not enough - leaders still need to provide some alignment of goals and processes to avoid anarchy. The goal is a balance of autonomy and alignment.

  • Kyle, the founder of Hudl, identified a need for more structured processes and organization systems at the company to give employees common frameworks to work from, rather than everyone working on whatever they wanted.

  • Hudl’s design team was struggling to hire enough designers to keep up with demand. Kyle reorganized the team into a less flat structure, introducing common style guides, feedback processes, etc. This allowed fewer designers to accomplish more work by leveraging shared resources and processes.

  • Autonomy can be abused if leaders don’t provide clear direction. Even solo companies need direction and set processes to allow creativity and goal achievement. The key is balancing guidance with trust. Too much or too little of either leads to problems.

  • As a company grows from a solo founder to having employees, introducing more processes, systems and reusable assets allows the work to be done more efficiently with fewer people, even as revenue and customers increase. Overall organization and alignment are important.

The passage discusses the myth of indefatigable leadership and the need for balance instead of constant growth and hustling. It highlights some of the negative impacts of excessive work like higher stress, worse work-life balance, and deteriorating health.

Research suggests that workaholism does not necessarily lead to better financial rewards or self-efficacy. Crew, a contracting company, allows employees to set their own hours and work as much or as little as needed to complete tasks, rather than focusing on hours worked.

The passage questions whether long work hours are actually needed to achieve good results, or if people just need to learn to work smarter in the same or fewer hours. It discusses some of the psychological effects of power and leadership roles, including how the qualities that help someone gain leadership can diminish once in that role, like empathy and self-awareness.

Rand Fishkin’s experience of stepping down as CEO due to depression showed how important self-care, self-awareness, empathy, transparency, and gratitude are for sustainable leadership. Maintaining these qualities can help address issues that stem from being in a position of power. The mythology of indefatigable leaders ignores their humanity and flaws rather than learning from failures.

  • Kate O’Neill realized as strategy lead for that focusing on user acquisition and growth was more expensive than focusing on user retention and reducing subscription cancellations.

  • She showed that keeping existing customers happy and renewing subscriptions was more important for profits and growth than constantly seeking new customers.

  • shifted its strategy and messaging to prioritize retaining existing customers over acquiring new ones. This included more renewal offers and improved customer support.

  • Kate found that sacrificing customer experience for the sake of growth and acquisition is not a sustainable long-term strategy and should not be the focus when starting a new company. Customer retention should be prioritized over customer acquisition from the beginning.

  • When starting a small business independently, focus on achieving modest goals that are realistic with your current resources, rather than trying to rush toward a grander vision that is not yet feasible.

  • It is better to get your business up and running quickly with a minimal viable product, rather than waiting until everything is perfectly polished. You can iterate and improve over time based on customer feedback.

  • Don’t try to include every potential feature or idea in your initial launch. Focus only on the true “must-haves” that are essential to making your concept work. Other “nice-to-haves” can come later.

  • Growth should result from profitability and customer success, not be an end goal in itself. Small, profitable businesses can still focus on refinement and adaptation without needing rapid scale.

  • Within larger organizations, it is possible to operate like an independent business by focusing on a specific skill set or scope of work, and advancing one’s career through increasing responsibility and ownership rather than management of others. This allows remaining hands-on in your core work.

  • Career growth in a company like Buffer is based on two factors: scope of influence and ownership.

  • Scope of influence refers to how much expertise and decision-making authority someone has within their area, such as Android development. This influence can grow from a team to industry-wide level.

  • Ownership refers to responsibility and accountability for projects and deliverables. Junior employees start with just tasks, then own specific projects, and later whole disciplines within the company.

  • Buffer’s goal is to allow employees to grow either deeper into their area of specialization, or broader by taking on more managerial roles. There is no forced choice between stagnation and managing people.

  • Katie Womersley manages engineers at Buffer. Her role has ownership over people decisions in engineering based on her scope of influence, even though engineers make specific technical decisions.

  • Buffer aims to operate more like independent companies working together, with the most qualified people making decisions in their respective areas. This provides autonomy and room for employees to build career paths within their interests.

  • The post discusses the difference between purpose and passion in running a business. Purpose is based on core values shared with customers, while passion is a personal whim that may or may not align with generating profit.

  • Advice to “follow your passion” is flawed as most jobs don’t exist in passion domains like sports or arts. Successful people often discover passion through hard work in their craft, not the other way around.

  • It’s better to focus on solving problems and making a difference, as this leads to engaging work that cultivates passion over time through a sense of flow and mastery.

  • While motivational speakers promote following passion, they often neglect two key aspects - having marketable skills first, and testing ideas on a small scale before fully committing.

  • The author’s own career pivots were only successful when skills were highly developed and demand was proven first through smaller trials before fully transitioning. Attempts made without these elements led to failure.

  • In summary, building skills to the point of demand, then gradually testing new areas, leads to more viable business changes than purely relying on passion and courage. A data-driven approach is safer than following whims.

  • Feeling entitled to meaningful or high-paying work without putting in the effort to master skills can lead to problems. Passion often comes after achieving success, not before.

  • As a solo entrepreneur or company of one, you have to guard your time carefully and avoid too many distractions and obligations that could reduce productivity. Productivity requires focus and single-tasking.

  • When managing yourself within a larger organization, clearly communicate your workload and capacity to prevent being overcommitted. Do periodic audits to remove time sucks from your schedule.

  • Fewer meetings and interruptions allow deeper work that solves important problems. Managers should protect employees’ time and demand little unplanned access to avoid constant context switching.

  • Solo workers can feel like they aren’t accomplishing enough, but rarely account for the time spent on core work and business management tasks each day in addition to client work.

The key messages are about avoiding a sense of entitlement to success, protecting one’s time, communicating capacity clearly, and recognizing all the tasks required beyond just client work each day.

The passage discusses how attention has become the most important currency in business today. In the age of information overload, where knowledge is readily available online, attention has become scarce. All businesses are competing for a piece of people’s limited attention, both online and offline.

This shift to “attention as currency” stems from changes since the industrial revolution, where sellers dictated the rules. Now buyers have more power - they control what they want, how they want it, and when. If unsatisfied with one seller, buyers can easily spread their dissatisfaction online, sometimes reaching a wider audience than the seller.

Attention is worth more than revenue or possessions. It requires businesses to foster a two-sided relationship focused on how others can benefit from interacting with the brand, not just what the business can gain. Brand personality plays a key role by showcasing authentic aspects of the founder/business that resonate with their target audience. For companies of one, their brand should represent a distinct part of themselves.

  • Companies often try to appeal to everyone to gain more attention, but this usually results in a bland, generic message that doesn’t appeal strongly to anyone. It’s better to take a stand on specific values and viewpoints to attract your ideal customers.

  • Research shows that strong emotions are more memorable than just information. Companies can build fascination and attract attention by incorporating their unique personality and quirks into their brand and message.

  • Polarizing products or stances that some people strongly love and others strongly dislike can still be successful because they elicit passionate reactions. While not for everyone, polarization allows a company to stand out clearly to their target audience.

  • Examples like Just Mayo showed that being polarizing and disruptive can grab attention through controversy, even if it angers some competitors or groups. The publicity and passion this elicits among supporters can outweigh any downsides from critics. Overall, differentiation and taking a clear stand are better for a small company than aiming for universal appeal, which often leads to blandness.

  • WestJet, a Canadian airline, launched a marketing campaign called “We don’t overbook” in response to United Airlines’ well-publicized incident of dragging a passenger off an overbooked flight. The campaign emphasized WestJet’s policy of not overbooking flights and highlighted how they treat passengers as owners.

  • Memorable stories are often driven by protagonists fighting against antagonists. This creates someone for the audience to root for and against. Companies can use this framework by positioning themselves as the protagonist against another company or status quo.

  • A small company or one not aiming for rapid growth can use “polarization” to reach their potential audience. This involves taking a clear stance on issues to attract those who agree while deterring those who disagree, without huge advertising spends.

  • Examples given include Apple’s “1984” ad positioning itself against IBM, and how the author takes stances that some disagree with but helps self-select his target customers.

  • By focusing on a narrow audience that aligns with your values rather than unlimited growth, a company can better meet the needs of their customers and rely less on attracting those outside their target group.

  • Customer service should focus on providing a positive emotional experience for customers, not just meeting basic expectations. Treating each customer individually can build loyalty and referrals.

  • Referrals are powerful for business growth, as 83% of new business comes from word-of-mouth. Exceeding expectations through personal touches builds customer reciprocity and referrals.

  • Providing great customer service turns customers into an unpaid sales force by encouraging them to tell others about their positive experiences.

  • To keep customers happy, companies need to practice empathy and truly listen to understand individual needs. This helps tailor products and services to provide real value.

  • Research shows the most profitable companies rank highest on empathy scales towards customers and employees. Putting customer needs first increases loyalty and profitability long-term.

  • Gaining insights from customers through empathy and understanding their perspectives can drive valuable innovations. Many profitable innovations originate from lead users, not internal teams.

  • When mistakes happen (and they will), companies need to have a plan to respond transparently and take responsibility.

  • It’s important to own up to mistakes, even those caused by external factors like suppliers or partners.

  • The first step is to sincerely apologize from an empathetic, human perspective rather than a robotic PR response.

  • Customers understand that perfection is impossible, but they expect issues to be addressed fairly, empathetically and quickly.

  • Taking personal responsibility, even for others’ errors, builds trust with customers that their issues will be properly resolved.

  • While transparency has benefits internally, it’s also crucial externally by being open about relevant highs and lows that could impact customers.

  • As long as a company works to promptly fix problems, customers will tend to be more understanding if the business generally treats them well.

In summary, when mistakes inevitably happen, companies of one need a plan to take responsibility transparently and make things right for their customers through sincere communication and resolution of issues. This maintains trust even during failures.

  • The company owner experienced a bug in vendor software that caused dozens of customers to be double-charged.

  • They immediately emailed all affected customers to notify them of the mistake and their plan to issue refunds quickly. Customers were given a contact number for any questions.

  • Only two customers requested full refunds of the original charge plus the double charge amount. Most customers were understanding that software bugs can occur.

  • By taking responsibility for the costs of switching vendors to prevent future issues, the owner helped secure customer confidence that the issue was being addressed properly.

  • The experience taught the importance of treating customers the way you would want to be treated if roles were reversed. Neither ignoring the issue nor just issuing refunds would have achieved that.

  • Maintaining loyal customers who are satisfied with the product is more important than short-term financial losses from mistakes.

  • Transparency about errors and full apologies have been shown to reduce malpractice lawsuits and customer complaints more than denying issues or just offering compensation.

  • It’s important to validate customer feelings, be transparent about what happened, and clearly explain how the problem will be fixed to prevent future occurrences.

Here are the key points about how Need/Want and James Clear build scalable systems as companies of one:

  • Need/Want relies heavily on e-commerce technology like Shopify to run its online store, outsourcing manufacturing and fulfillment, and focusing marketing efforts on scalable online channels like social media and email marketing. This allows the company to grow significantly in revenue while keeping a small core team.

  • James Clear also focuses on creating digital products like online courses that require little ongoing management. He charges one-time fees instead of retainers to keep his overhead low. This allows him to scale his business without substantially growing his team.

  • Both companies emphasize creating products and services that are scalable through systems rather than physical labor. This enables them to profitably serve large audiences while remaining small businesses. They can experiment and optimize these systems to drive more sales and growth.

  • Need/Want uses testing and analytics like A/B testing to continually improve its online marketing. James Clear researches and shares content to grow his email list, a scalable connection channel. Focusing on systems helps maximize revenue and audience reach with minimal extra resources.

Brian Clark began his career as a practicing attorney but wanted more freedom and control as a writer. When earning money through traditional writer revenue streams like ads proved difficult, he learned about direct marketing approaches from Seth Godin.

Combining his legal background with his passion for writing, Brian started a website that freely shared educational legal content on a weekly basis. By teaching people about legal issues instead of just waiting for clients, he was able to gain their trust in his expertise. Then when those readers needed legal services, they directly hired Brian rather than an anonymous lawyer.

Teaching everything he knew through educational online content allowed Brian to establish himself as an authority, gain an audience of potential clients, and ultimately build a successful law practice on his own terms without relying on leads from a traditional firm. His approach demonstrated how teaching can help scale a solo business by attracting qualified clients and customers.

Brian started out working in law firms but didn’t want to actually practice law. He realized real estate was a lucrative industry with a lack of internet marketing knowledge. He founded two highly successful real estate brokerages using his internet content marketing skills.

However, Brian struggled with managing the growing businesses as they required more work than he could handle alone. He also had a snowboarding accident that sidelined him for months. With no documentation of business processes, the brokerages fell apart when he sold them.

Brian then launched CopyBlogger as a side business teaching companies content marketing. He utilized the approach of sharing all his knowledge freely with an audience to build trust. This “education through content” approach allowed him to learn what his audience wanted and build successful products catering to those needs.

The company, now renamed RainMaker Digital, does over $12 million annually in revenue thanks to focusing on audience education rather than overt sales. Sharing knowledge positions Brian and his company as experts and allows potential customers to understand how the products can benefit them. It has led to long-term customer relationships and growth for the business.

  • Teaching provides essential feedback that allows teachers to constantly improve and strengthen what they’re teaching. Both the teacher and students benefit from this process.

  • Customer education is an important part of the sales process. Companies should educate customers about their products so customers can make informed purchase decisions. In the past, some companies avoided customer education due to misconceptions.

  • A study found that educating customers actually increases trust in the company, customer loyalty, and appreciation of customer service. Educated customers are more likely to purchase from the educating company.

  • Companies should focus on providing honest information to customers rather than marketing tricks. This builds strong connections with customers by being the most helpful source of information.

  • Casper, an online mattress company, uses sleep education publications to educate customers rather than directly selling mattresses. This builds confidence in their brand and leads to increased market share.

  • As a small business, educating customers about products and services provides insights to get the most value. It prevents frustration from lack of knowledge and shows customers why your company is the best choice.

  • Teaching positions one as an authority and builds trust and expertise. By consistently sharing knowledge, customers will rely on your expertise and be receptive to paying for more of your guidance. Leaders in various fields have authority because they teach what they know.

  • Teaching appears to be an effective marketing strategy for small businesses to assert their domain expertise against larger competitors and establish themselves as trusted authorities in their niche.

Businesses have been online for over 20 years, allowing not just digital purchases but consumer reviews. Reviews from other consumers help build trust, though some reviews can be fake. Certain industries like airlines struggle with trust due to poor customer treatment.

The rise of the internet has forced more transparency from companies. Car dealers initially fought transparency but now embrace it, as customers know detailed pricing info online.

To build trust, companies need confidence in truthfulness, competence, and acting in customers’ best interests. Word of mouth is very influential due to trust by proxy - customers trust recommendations from others they trust. Small businesses can benefit from word of mouth through personal relationships.

Companies should turn happy customers into advocates by asking for referrals and providing incentives. Incentives work best when they are small perks for both referrer and customer rather than just cash. Rewarding loyal customers also encourages advocacy through sharing positive experiences online.

The passage discusses how companies can build trust and generate word-of-mouth referrals through social media without large marketing budgets. It gives examples of how Ugmonk clothing and a Shopify consultant have grown their businesses through referrals.

Specifically, Ugmonk has seen organic social media shares because customers enjoy their stylish clothing. Their good customer service also promotes word-of-mouth. The consultant focuses exclusively on the Shopify niche, allowing him to become a trusted authority and get business referrals from other Shopify store owners.

The passage advocates focusing marketing efforts on current, loyal customers who are likely to publicly endorse a brand they trust. Following up with satisfied clients can yield positive reviews and referrals to other potential clients. Incentivizing customers to share their positive experiences on social media through comment prompts and giveaways can further promote word-of-mouth without large advertising spends. Targeting a niche audience also enhances trust and helps charge higher prices.

In summary, the key points are that building trust, loyalty and incentives for customer endorsements can drive organic promotion through social sharing and referrals, providing marketing benefits without large budgets. Niche targeting additionally boosts reputation and trust with a focused audience.

  • Trust is more important than virality for content when the goal is to serve a niche audience, like’s car review audience. Focusing on impartial reviews builds trust over time.

  • Providing educational content and resources for free is a low-cost way to build trust and help customers make informed decisions. This could be through a resource page, mobile app, or other sharing of knowledge.

  • Basecamp stopped spending $1 million on social media ads when they found educational content was more effective for customer acquisition. They focused on product quality, customer service, and referrals.

  • Embedding trust through high-quality customer experiences, like the personalized service at The Pointe Restaurant, can charge a premium and generate word-of-mouth.

  • Ugmonk founder Jeff Sheldon started small with four t-shirt designs and reinvested profits to grow iteratively based on demand. Working nights and weekends allowed him to keep his full-time job initially. Growing profitably in tiny steps led to increased scale over time.

  • For a company of one, the focus should be reaching minimum viable profit (MVPr) as quickly as possible through low expenses, then growing sustainably based on actual profits rather than projections. MVPr is covering at least the owner’s salary on an ongoing basis.

  • The passage discusses different options for a solo founder business after achieving minimum viable product revenue (MVPr): scaling systems, working less while maintaining pay, investing further in the business, or growing based on increased revenue.

  • It emphasizes that quickly achieving profitability is important for a solo founder, as focusing on growth and profit are difficult to do simultaneously. Traditional growth strategies like spending on sales/acquisitions require investing now for future returns.

  • For a solo founder, focusing only on future profit doesn’t work - growth must be incremental from zero as tiny profits allow tiny investments which lead to slightly more profits and investments over time.

  • Crowdfunding is presented as a viable option for funding product development without giving up ownership, as the audience can directly preorder products they want rather than relying on investors who may have different priorities.

  • While VC money sometimes provides mentoring and connections, crowdfunding seems better aligned with solo founders as the audience becomes the customer base if the product solves their problems.

  • Crowdfunding can be an effective way to raise money for a new business or product, but it’s not guaranteed - typically only 35% of Kickstarter campaigns are successfully funded. In 2016, crowdfunding raised about $6 billion total.

  • Crowdfunding may be better suited for consumer products rather than business products. It can also be more meritocratic than traditional fundraising, which tends to favor white male founders. Women have actually been shown to be more successful at crowdfunding.

  • Katherine Krug raised over $3 million via crowdfunding for her company BetterBack, which makes lower back support devices. This allowed her to fully control her company’s direction without outside influence.

  • Sometimes a business idea may require too much capital upfront and be too complex. It’s better to start small by solving customer problems and being profitable from the beginning rather than focusing on quick growth or expansion.

  • Examples are given of CDBaby, which started with $500 and was profitable right away, and Unsplash, which launched with just 10 photos on a basic Tumblr theme.

  • It’s better to start by offering services and addressing customer problems directly rather than developing products first, as this allows making money quickly through services.

  • Companies should launch early and often, improving iteratively based on data rather than waiting for a perfect launch. Foxes vs hedgehogs - focus on a single goal rather than many different things. Every company relies heavily on technology now.

  • Chris Brogan believes that building long-term relationships is more important for small businesses than hustling or aggressive selling. Relationships are based on mutually shared interests, not just pushing products.

  • It is easier to sell to people you have an existing relationship with because they trust you care about them personally, not just making a sale. Selling in the context of a relationship feels less pushy.

  • Constantly pushing wares and selling can make people avoid your business. But empowering and helping customers through teaching builds trust as a reliable adviser.

  • Brogan promotes others and facilitates connections without being asked, to build goodwill through his network. This helps when he later pitches something.

  • Small businesses can use personalized outreach to call customers by name to build stronger relationships than large impersonal corporations.

  • Many large brands now acquire or act like small artisanal brands due to demand for better quality, personalized experiences that build strong customer relationships and understanding.

  • Small businesses need to embrace acting like small businesses rather than trying to emulate large corporations. They can focus on niche customer groups and build personal relationships.

  • Building genuine relationships reduces customer churn and strengthens customer loyalty to the small business.

  • Some businesses wrongly claim “ownership” of their audience. No audience truly belongs to any one business as customers interact with many brands.

  • Pushing sales too aggressively can damage relationships and turn customers away. It’s better to primarily provide value first through helpful content before occasionally pitching products.

  • Growth hacking focuses on rapid growth as the top metric, but this often comes at the expense of real customer relationships. Tactics like spamming contacts can backfire.

  • Sustainable growth comes from building trust and mutual understanding with customers over the long run, not short-term acquisition tactics.

  • Companies should focus on being better for customers rather than just being bigger. This leads to long-term customer retention rather than churn.

  • Authentically connecting with audiences involves clearly sharing who the business serves and why through consistent messaging, not just desiring connections.

  • As a business, your top priority should be helping your customers succeed, not just selling them a product. You want to build real personal connections through constant customer conversations to understand their needs.

  • The company’s true north or guiding principle is showcasing how rewarding employees leads to business success, which then leads to sales of fortune cookies.

  • In addition to financial and human capital, social capital is critical for small businesses to succeed. Social capital refers to the value of your relationships and network.

  • You need to “bank” social capital by consistently providing value to others before asking for anything in return. Do this through helpful content, education, and building trust over time.

  • Approaches like sharing others’ content, engaging personally with your audience, and thanking customers for their business can help foster strong relationships and build social capital.

  • High levels of social capital directly correlate to increased sales performance and revenue. Developing empathy for customers is key to building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

  • While scaling is important, companies should not forget about existing customers. Ongoing communication and ensuring customers continue to find value is as important as gaining new customers. Losing your core customer base can undermine growth efforts.

  • Daiya Foods, a plant-based cheese company, upset many loyal long-term customers when it announced it would start selling animal-based dairy products as well, betraying its core values.

  • Within days, over 6,000 people signed petitions boycotting the brand, showing the power of customers who feel a company has abandoned what it stood for. Several retailers dropped Daiya.

  • Other examples show how quickly consumer outrage can severely damage brands, like Apple maps, United Airlines, and a Nivea ad campaign.

  • To build loyal relationships, companies must consider the core group they serve and avoid actions that make customers feel unimportant.

  • MIT lecturer Jim Dougherty outlined keys to strong customer relationships - customers must like, respect, admire the “whole person” of the company, and feel the relationship is maintained over time.

  • Building connections to customers increases loyalty, advocacy, and reduces churn. While relationships take work, they are important for business success and sustainability.

  • Even as a solo entrepreneur, it’s valuable to connect with industry peers through partnerships, like Wakefield Brunswick does, to gain expertise, opportunities, and avoid isolation. Relationships are key at every level.

  • The author reflects on starting his own business after dropping out of university to pursue web design work. He worked at an agency but didn’t like their “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach.

  • The day after quitting that agency, clients started calling him directly, saying they wanted to work with him. This gave him the idea to start his own company focused on client relationships.

  • He acknowledges working for oneself isn’t for everyone. It requires handling many business functions yourself like marketing, accounting, etc. in addition to your main work.

  • He emphasizes the importance of both ego (believing you can do it better) and purpose (a north star to drive you long-term) to be successful as a sole proprietor. For him, it’s the freedom and choices that come with running your own business.

  • If starting from scratch today, he would listen to potential clients’ needs and offer free consultations to learn what people want when hiring designers. This would help him help others while also gathering intel to prospect for paying clients.

  • People often hire a web designer to build or improve their website. A good website is important for marketing, sales, branding and overall online presence.

  • Before hiring a designer, it’s a good idea to understand your business goals and objectives for the website. What do you want it to accomplish? What information or functionality do users need?

  • Consider your budget. Web design can range significantly in cost depending on the scope of work and designer/agency. Get quotes from multiple options.

  • Look for a designer whose portfolio and style matches what you have in mind for your site. Experience with your industry is a plus.

  • Ensure the designer has a proven process, uses modern coding standards, and understands usability and SEO best practices.

  • Discuss ongoing support, updates and site maintenance after launch. Will the designer help with future changes? What are the costs?

  • Hiring a professional designer can save money and headaches versus trying to build the site yourself if you lack design and coding skills. A good site impacts your business goals.

So in summary, people hire web designers to improve their online presence, achieve business goals and create a professional, functional website - especially if they lack the in-house skills or time to do it themselves.

  • Set up a legal structure that separates your personal finances from your business finances, such as incorporating or forming an LLC. Have proper contracts and terms of service to protect the business.

  • Hire a business lawyer on retainer to help ensure legal compliance and reduce the risk of lawsuits. It’s better to prevent issues than deal with them in court.

  • Find an accountant knowledgeable about your industry and business size who can help with taxes, bookkeeping, and financial planning/advice.

  • Pay yourself a salary from business funds, based on historical profits minus taxes and overhead. Factor in personal living expenses and desired time off.

  • Maintain a 6-month runway buffer of liquid savings to cover expenses if revenue slows down temporarily.

  • Automatically invest excess funds beyond expenses, salary, and buffer in low-fee index funds for long-term retirement savings and growth.

  • Research health insurance options like provider groups, associations, or plans for small businesses/self-employed individuals.

  • Once finances are taken care of, you have flexibility to prioritize work-life balance, time with family, travel, or business experimentation.

  • Moving past focusing on constant scaling and growth when things are going well allows you to invest in enjoying your own life and freedom. You have the flexibility to enjoy the benefits of a sustainable business model.

  • The author then provides questions to reflect on starting your own solo business, including your purpose and goals, how you could get started now with a initial version, and what legal and financial steps are needed to set it up responsibly.

  • The afterword discusses examples from Japan of very long-lasting small businesses like a 1,300 year old hotel and a 1,428 year old construction company. It argues that success comes from resilience over long periods rather than fast growth. Focusing on stable profitability, customer service and adaptability allows businesses to remain small and avoid risks that come with large scale.

  • The idea of becoming “too small to fail” is presented, where focusing on profiting sustainably from a small footprint provides freedom from constant growth pressures and flexibility to serve customers and yourself well over the long run. Determining what is “enough” allows defining your own goals rather than following expectations of constant entrepreneurial growth culture.

Here is a summary of the selected paragraphs:

The passages discuss the satisfaction that comes from running a business where you have reached the point of having “enough” and don’t feel compelled to constantly pursue new opportunities for growth. This allows one to operate their “company of one” in a way that provides a lifestyle they enjoy, with tasks they want to do and customers they want to serve. It conveys a sense of freedom and ability to run the business on one’s own terms when they have achieved financial sustainability without intense focus on expansion. Overall it promotes finding satisfaction and liberation at the scale where a business fully supports its owner’s desired way of life, rather than always prioritizing more growth.

Here is a summary of the key points from the articles:

  • Buffer announced that their co-founder and CTO were leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. This came as a surprise but the company is committed to its mission and vision.

  • To be an effective leader requires qualities like taking responsibility, having a vision, empowering others, and being a generalist with broad knowledge. Introverted leaders and those who empower autonomous teams can also be successful.

  • Some companies choose to grow in a controlled way or not at all. Maintaining quality and retaining customers can be more important than rapid growth. It’s important to have the right mindset focused on purpose and values over profits alone.

  • Developing passion comes from engaging, meaningful work, not following preconceived passions. Focusing on multiple priorities at once reduces effectiveness. Scarcity mindsets from constant multi-tasking and busy-ness impair decision making.

  • Some personalities are more focused on winning at all costs rather than collaborating. Ignoring others’ viewpoints and attempting to damage competitors personally can backfire in the long run.

  • Delivering exceptional customer service and solving customer problems leads to increased sales, referrals and retention. Putting customers at the center of a business supports innovation from gaining insights into needs. Empathy and a whole-company support approach benefits both customers and business results.

Here is a summary of the key points about hy-pardot/customer-success:

  • Customer success refers to helping customers achieve their goals and objectives through the use of a company’s products and services after the sale is complete. It focuses on adoption, retention, expansion, and advocacy.

  • Customer success teams work directly with customers to ensure they are maximizing the value of a product, understand how to use it fully, and have their needs met ongoing. This builds long-term loyalty and advocacy.

  • Metrics for customer success include renewal rates, expansion rates (adding more users or products over time), product usage levels, and customer satisfaction/happiness scores.

  • Effective customer success requires regular communication with customers through various channels like email, phone, and in-person meetings. Problems need to be addressed quickly.

  • Sharing expertise and knowledge helps customers learn but also builds trust in the company as an expert partner. Teaching customers makes them more successful with the product.

  • Relationships are key so customer success involves developing personal connections with individuals at customer companies over time.

  • Scaling customer success requires systems and processes but the focus remains on one-to-one personal relationships with customers. Technology aids these relationships.

Here is a summary of the key points about uka-acquisition:

  • uka-acquisition is a Canadian company that provides acquisition consulting services to help businesses grow through strategic acquisitions.

  • They help companies identify suitable acquisition targets, evaluate potential deals, conduct due diligence, and navigate the acquisition process from offer to integration.

  • The founders have decades of experience in corporate development, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and private equity. They leverage this experience to advise clients.

  • Their advisory services include developing an acquisition strategy and criteria, identifying and qualifying targets, conducting financial and operational due diligence, valuation analysis, negotiating and closing deals, and post-acquisition integration support.

  • They work with companies across a wide range of industries including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, business services, etc. Client companies range from small businesses to large corporations.

  • The goal of their services is to help companies acquire the right assets at the right price to accelerate growth, expand into new markets, obtain new capabilities, and realize other strategic objectives through M&A.

So in summary, uka-acquisition is an acquisition consulting firm that leverages M&A expertise to advise and guide businesses through the target identification, deal evaluation, due diligence, negotiation, and integration stages of the acquisition process.

Here is a summary of the key points around loyalty in the text:

  • Loyalty is discussed on pages 79, 105-106, 107, 116, and 141-142. Loyalty from customers and colleagues is highlighted as important.

  • Building loyalty requires good customer service and treating customers well over many interactions. It also involves building genuine relationships with customers and colleagues.

  • Authenticity, empathy, transparency and putting customers’ needs first can help foster loyalty from customers over the long run. Treating colleagues well also promotes loyalty from team members.

  • Marketing efforts can help stay top of mind with loyal customers to continue the relationships. But the foundation of loyalty comes from good customer experience and strong relationships at the personal level.

  • Maintaining loyalty long-term requires ongoing commitment to serving customers and colleagues well through both good and bad times. It’s about consistent delivery on trust and values to retain trust and commitment.

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About Matheus Puppe