Fertile Business

Growth, in the typical business sense, isn't always a smart strategy if it's followed blindly. It can leave you with an unmaintainable number of employees, unsustainable 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 toward growing smaller, smarter, more efficient, and more resilient? 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, raving fans, focus, autonomy, and experiences while resisting the urge to blindly scale up employee payroll, expenses, and stress 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. 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 deliverables, if they're not working, they're not getting paid. Even at a large corporation, you're essentially the only person who looks out for your own best interests and continued employment.

No one else cares about you keeping your job as much as you do. It's your responsibility to define and achieve your own success, even in a larger framework of employment. Work can be done at a pace that suits my sanity rather than one that supports costly overhead, expenses, or salaries. Society has ingrained in us a very particular idea of what success in business looks like. You work as many hours as possible, and when your business starts to do well, you scale everything up in every direction. Anyone who stays small, in this line of thinking, hasn't done well enough to add more to the mix. But what if we challenge this way of thinking in business? What if staying small is what a company does when it's figured out how to solve problems without adding more to them? Growth, especially blind growth, isn't the best solution to any problem a business might face. And going further, growing your business might actually be the worst decision you could make for the longevity of your business. The first trait that resilient people have is an acceptance of reality. They don't need for things to be a certain way and don't engage in wishful thinking. For entrepreneurs or those working for themselves, autonomy may seem easier to achieve but can come with several pitfalls. Often when you start working for yourself you trade micromanaging bosses for micromanaging clients. The solution to finding better clients and better projects has a lot to do with your skill and experience, just as I mentioned at the start of this section. When you're starting out and your skills aren't as developed, you won't be able to lead projects or be too picky about the type of work you do.

Speed is not merely about frantically working faster. It's about figuring out the best way to accomplish a task with new and efficient methods. By being smarter at getting more work done faster when you work for yourself, you can create a more flexible schedule that fits work into your life in better ways. Complexity is often well intentioned, especially at large corporations, where, as complicated processes are added to other complicated processes and systems, accomplishing any task requires more and more work on the job and not toward finishing the task. By contrast, growth for a company of one can mean simplifying rules and processes, which frees up time to take on either more work or more clients, because tasks can be finished faster.

If you have an idea for starting a business that requires a lot of money, time, or resources, you're most likely thinking too big. Start without automation or infrastructure or overhead. Start by helping one customer. This puts your focus on helping people immediately with what you've got available to you right now. Work on things like sales funnels and automation when it no longer makes sense to personalize your interactions with your customers in surprising and delightful ways.

We've become enamored with new technologies, new software, and new devices, and too often large companies and even solo companies try to incorporate them into their existing structures in an effort to keep up. The problem here is mistaking simple for easy. Often we try to be simpler and end up more complicated. We add more tools, more software, more devices to the mix to make things easier, without testing or questioning how easy they'll be to use on a daily basis. A business selling thousands of products can probably cut most of them if the bulk of their sales comes from just 5 percent of their offerings. Start out as simple as possible, and always fervently question adding new layers of complexity. Whether your audience is ten people, a hundred people, or even a thousand people, if you're not doing right by them, right now, nothing you do regarding growth or marketing will make a lick of difference. Make sure you're listening to, communicating with, and helping the people who are already paying attention to you.