Interview With Paul Jarvis, Author Of "Company of One"

Paul Jarvis, author of Company of One, talks about fear of failure, what makes powerful partnerships, collaboration and communication and how he sees the future of freelancing.

Living on an island, surrounded by his garden and his family close by, Paul Jarvis managed to create a work/life balance very suited to his personality traits. He went from being a freelancer to author, blogger and mentor to getting over 30.000 email subscribers to his weekly newsletters and running his own successful company of one.

So we asked ourselves, what is it about Paul that triggers our curiosity? What is his best work so far and what is Paul's exist strategy? That and much more insights we’ll reveal for you in the following interview, enjoy!

What was the very first thought you had today.

COFFEE. Followed by, I HAVE TO PEE.

What does a typical working day look like?

There is no typical. Honestly. Some days I work an hour, then call it. Other days I work 6 hours. Some days are filled with calls and interviews and, some are filled with quietly writing or designing.

I like that there’s no typical. It keeps things interesting.

Name one thing that would improve the quality of your life at the moment.

Less things on my calendar.

What do you think is your best skill and what is the one you are missing?

I’m really good at single-tasking. I can sit down, turn everything off, and get to work quite well. I suck at managing and delegating, which is why my company is setup in a way that I don’t have to do that.

If you were not in the room what would people say about you?

Hopefully nice things! 

What are you working on right now? Can you tell us or show us a bit?

Company of One, why staying small is the next big thing in business. It’s a new book that comes out on Jan 15, 2019 and I’ve spent the last few years working on it. 

Digital strategist Shelley Bernstein once said that one of the greatest challenges currently facing us is how to interact meaningfully with the people we serve. How do you take on this challenge with your work?

By having real, one-to-one conversations when required. I’m not afraid to hop on a call or quick Skype to figure something out. I don’t think you can maintain a relationship by liking someones Tweets or Facebook posts… you need to actually stay in touch in more meaningful ways.

What do you think is the biggest frustration designers have today and what do you recommend to overcome it?

Not being able to communicate their ideas effectively. From how they showcase work on portfolios, to how they pitch projects to potential clients to how the illicit feedback from actual clients.

I think too many designers think their work will speak for itself, when most non-designers aren’t fluent in design, and need a bit more information about why something is the way it is and why it’s a good idea.

Which project of yours makes you feel very proud of what you’ve created and why?

Company of One, the book. It’s been decades of thinking, and years of working on it, and I honestly think it’s my best work so far.

What is your 'Exist Strategy'? 

To keep making a difference for the folks who are currently paying attention to my work.

I want to start my own thing but I don’t have resources (money, people, time, etc). Tips?

Read this article I wrote on this subject:

"Fear of Failure" How to deal with it specially when you’re not experienced and it’s your first time launching a product?

If business was a sure thing, no one would ever fail. Failing is part of launching products and while you can hope to avoid it, there’s no crystal ball that gives you a sure thing with any launch. Launches are mostly out of our control, so the best we can do is stack the deck in our favour (by creating something both wanted and awesome) and then iterate on the next launch.

What – in your opinion – defines a powerful partnership between designer & client?

Collaboration. Clients need to trust that the designer they hired is an expert at their job and designers need to educate clients on how best to work with them, since clients are experts at their job too (but not necessarily experts participating in a design project).

How do you see the future of freelancing? What do you think would be needed to help this scenario manifest?

The freelance economy keeps growing, year over year. To make it work for freelancers, the focus needs to move from a commodity based system, like gig-for-hire websites where it’s a race to the bottom, and move more towards freelancers positioning themselves as niche or focused experts on a subject with measurable return on investment for the clients they serve.

Paul’s refreshing book Company of One is available to buy at Check out Paul's work on his website, relate with him on twitter or subscribe to his weekly – very down to earth – Sunday Dispatches newsletter here, we promise it’ll be worth every second of your time!