How quickly can your company pivot when it needs to? Do you crave independence, not just for yourself but for your business?
In Company of One, Paul Jarvis advocates for one-person companies. He argues that, by owning such a business, you can exercise more control over your work and create your own schedule. Also, your company is more likely to ride the waves of external changes better than larger businesses can.
Keep reading to learn about these two significant benefits of a one-person company.
Benefit #1: Adaptability to Changing Circumstances
Jarvis explains that the first benefit of a one-person company is that it can more easily adapt to changing circumstances and endure hardship. All businesses face the challenge of market changes caused by world events or new technologies. With an adaptive, resilient mindset, owners of one-person companies can pivot more easily when they encounter such challenges than larger companies can.
(Shortform note: How should a business owner adapt to big changes in the world and the market? According to some business experts, the first step is to pinpoint products and businesses that will likely experience growth as a result of the change. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, equipment for home offices, restaurant takeout, and in-home entertainment like social media and streaming services experienced increased demand. Second, determine whether these shifts are likely to be long-term or short-term and whether they began before the change or as a result of it. Finally, adjust your business model to fit the changes in supply and demand relevant to your industry.)
One-person companies are adaptable to hardship and changing circumstances because they typically have a strong purpose, not just the desire to make money. This purpose stems from your values as the owner—the reasons you do the work apart from profit. For example, your company’s purpose might be to support social and economic justice, help people advance their careers, or promote sustainability.
(Shortform note: A sense of purpose in the work doesn’t just contribute to resilience and adaptability—research also suggests that it boosts motivation and productivity, even during periods of stability. One survey suggested that people are more satisfied with their job and feel empowered when their work is meaningful to them. When people feel more satisfied with their jobs, they typically work longer hours, are more focused, and take less sick time. Therefore, your sense of purpose as an owner of a one-person company can continually motivate you to work hard to make it the best it can be.)
Benefit #2: Increased Independence and Control
Jarvis contends that the second benefit of a one-person company is that you have more independence than you’d have as the owner of a fast-growing company or an employee at someone else’s company. Because your business stays intentionally small (meaning you’re likely the only one working there) and uses existing resources to solve problems, you have complete creative, financial, and administrative control. Therefore, you get to decide how often you work, when you work, who you work with, and so on.
For example, say you’re a graphic designer. If you’re working at a firm, management determines your projects and clients. You have to prioritize your work based on what other people want from you. However, if you own your own graphic design company, you can choose your clients and decide how many projects to take on at any given time.
(Shortform note: The independence of owning a one-person company may improve your mental health. Some studies suggest that people who are self-employed feel more centered and experience less stress than people who work nine-to-five jobs. In a 2019 survey, 70% of self-employed workers said they had a good work-life balance, 55% said they felt less stressed than they did in a traditional office environment, and 54% said they were healthier overall after switching to self-employment. Others said they had more freedom, fun, and satisfaction in their jobs because they could set their own schedules.)