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Company of One on Smash Notes

Company of One podcast.

December 28, 2019

Company of One explores what happens when businesses challenge the idea that bigger is always better. The show explores a conversation around what happens if growth isn’t the byproduct of success. It's based on the book, Company of One (forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 15, 2019). The host, Paul Jarvis, is a writer whose work has appeared in Fast Company, WIRED, USA Today and more. He’s taught over 13,000 students through online courses and has worked with companies like Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz and Marie Forleo in design and online business consulting. The first season is 10 episodes and includes conversations with Laura Roeder, Jason Fried, Danielle LaPorte, Dan Provost, and Spencer Fry.

Episodes with Smash Notes

Channing Allen runs a website called IndieHackers with his brother Courtland. They’re a two-person team who advocates staying small and intentional growth. Then, one day, they got an email from the billionaire CEO of one of the largest tech companies on the planet to be acquired.

Updated on June 19

Abby Walker is the CEO of Vivian Lou. She runs a multi-million dollar physical product company from her home wearing sweats (and high heels).

Updated on May 26

Introducing Call Paul, a new show where I talk with small business owners who are dealing with this pandemic, the hard choices they’re making, and how they’re finding light and hope when it feels like everything else is falling apart.

Shaunna is a sellout in an actually positive definition of the term: she paints how and what other people want from her. but this gives her the freedom to work from home, take time off and travel, and that is more valuable to her than just painting whatever she wants.

Sponsored by Freshbooks.

Ryan Oakes is a magician and mentalist who works with companies like Twitter, GE and Google. He’s been on Harry Connick Jr’s TV show and covered by Forbes and The New York Times and Wall St Journal. He’s also a smart business strategist who knows how to nurture business relationships to move forward in his niche.

Sponsored by Freshbooks.

Support-Driven Growth is a business approach aimed at shifting the customer support channel from cost center to critical revenue driver, which makes sense, since support staff are in direct contact with customers, all day, every day. Mo McKibbon leads SDG at Helpscout.

Sponsored by Freshbooks.

When happens when you create a profitable business, but in doing so, you realize it’s something you actually want to be a part of? Margo Aaron explains what happened for her, how she dealt with it, and how she’s going to avoid doing it again. There’s a difference, of course, between the business you could run and the business you should run.

Knowing what “enough” is for each of us, and for our work, is a very liberating thing. What happens when we push back against this dominant business narrative? Lauren Bacon explains.

Whenever there’s a single narrative or single truth in business, it’s typically only truth for one group of people, to the exclusion of everyone else. Kate Kendall and I discuss.

On the Pinterest generation and debt, enoughness, marketing and the changing face of expertise online.

AJ is the enigmatic founder of Carrd. He runs a profitable software business that focuses on the space between business to consumer and business to niche.

Check out the book on Amazon or where ever you buy books, in digital, physical and audio formats. Visit for more details.

Today we’re going to hear from Laura Roeder, the CEO of MeetEdgar. It’s an online tool for folks to manage their social media content with more consistency and less time. Basically, it lets you queue up and schedule content for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook - automating your social media schedule.
Laura created MeetEdgar to scratch her own itch. She self-funded the development of the software herself, using money she had saved up from previous ventures. Since 2014, the company has gone from small and scrappy to slightly-larger-but-still scrappy.
In this conversation, we’ll dive into the metrics that determine growth in her company, as well as the business reasons for being transparent about all her businesses internal practices, like hiring.
Their team is currently 24 people, all of whom are remote workers. So I started by asking what, if anything, drives growth with MeetEdgar.

Learn more at

What if the real key to a richer and more fulfilling career was not to create and scale a new start-up, but rather, to be able to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one? Suppose the better—and smarter—solution is simply to remain small? This book explains how to do just that.

The Company of One book is a refreshingly new approach centred on staying small and avoiding growth. Not as a freelancer who only gets paid on a per piece basis, and not as an entrepreneurial start-up that wants to scale as soon as possible, but as a small business that is deliberately committed to staying that way. By staying small, one can have freedom to pursue more meaningful pleasures in life, and avoid the headaches that result from dealing with employees, long meetings, or worrying about expansion. Company of One introduces this unique business strategy and explains how to make it work for you, including how to generate cash flow on an ongoing basis.

Learn more at

It’s difficult for any one person to do all the things it takes to run a business, be an expert at all the things, and find time to actually get all the things done. It seems stressful to hold the belief that because you work for yourself, you should work by yourself.

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In this episode I talk to Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp, about a common misconception that people have about the VC/Silicon Valley/Tech world. The reason this misconception exists is because popular media glamourizes and even fetishizes it to the point where it seems so ultimately desirable to have an idea, grow it quickly as a business that constantly outspends its earnings, and sell that business for unfathomable amounts of money. What if, Jason argues, instead of all that we focused more on existing as a profitable and longterm business, instead of trying to make an exit from it as soon as possible?

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Exterior mindfulness (some call it minimalism) only works when we solve for enough. It’s not just a matter of having less stuff or having nothing or having that one carefully arranged bohemian tchotchke on your live-edge cedar coffee table. (That’s only useful if minimalism is simply an aesthetic you like for your Instagram and Pinterest posts.) If we don’t solve for enough, for our specific and personal enough, minimalism is vapid at best and a constant state of judgement at worse. In order to be more aware of what makes sense for our lives and businesses, we need to be aware of what enough means.

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Today I’m talking to Spencer Fry, the founder of Podia and we’re duking it out (to the death) on the topic of venture capital. I figured the best way to share a more rounded view on this subject would be talk through taking funding with a friend whom I respect and like (that’s Spencer, we didn’t really fight to the death here).

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It’s not that growing a company or hiring employees is evil or bad or wrong. It’s awesome and a great place to be in… for some people. But I know this about myself: I’m better at working than delegating work. And I don’t want to learn how to be better at the latter either.

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In this episode we’ll hear from Dan Provost, 50% of the Studio Neat team. They started in 2010 with a piece of hardware, called a Glif, that mounted a smartphone onto a standard camera tripod. They were aiming for $10k for the campaign and ended up reaching almost $140k. They rebooted the Glif in 2016 and raised $208k, passing their $50k goal in less than a day.
Their ridiculous success on Kickstarter isn’t the story here though. What’s interesting about Studio Neat is that the company is just two people: Dan and his business partner Tom. That’s it. Their office is a garage behind Tom’s backyard in Austin, Texas.
They’ve been able to build a company of one, with two people, shipping thousands of orders at a time after successful crowdfunding campaigns, and make the whole thing work without sacrificing having a good life. They embody the ideas and mindset of thriving as a company of one.e without scaling his company.

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Minimalism isn’t just for people who want to live out of a backpack or cram their life into a tiny house. So what is a minimalist business, and why should we have one? The ideas of being minimal can also easily apply to business – and I should know because I’ve been using them for nearly twenty years.

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In this episode we’ll hear from Danielle LaPorte. She’s a bestselling author, podcaster and entrepreneur who’s also a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100. What I love about Danielle is that she’s equal parts poet and business badass.

Danielle has lived the company of one model for business, then outgrown it, then shifted back towards it. In the following audio passage, we’re going to hear her hit on a trend I’ve seen in many other online businesses: where continual growth is wanted, and the best way to achieve it is through paid acquisition channels, like social media ads. And then, once you’re doing that, you’re at the mercy of their access and pricing. Here’s Danielle talking about growing her own business beast and then how she was forced to slay it.

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I’m Paul Jarvis and this is a preview of Company of One, a new podcast that explores what happens when businesses challenge the traditional idea that bigger is always better. A show where I break from the idea that growth in revenue, customers and employees is always the byproduct of success and focus instead on what it means to create richer and more fulfilling careers and businesses that don’t require exponential growth in all directions at all times.