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  • Ryan Stillions

But you're just one?

There's one question a few folks seem to have, and I can tell when someone wants to ask it but isn’t sure how without offending me, so it comes out in various forms.

How do you do this all by yourself?

How can you be a company of one?

How are you going to scale up? When will you start hiring? What does that look like?

These are all excellent and natural questions. They’re also reminders of what we have become conditioned to assume these days, that bigger is better and that “growth” comes in the form of margins, headcount, or market dominance over one's competition.

My questions back to them are also fair play.

What if our measures of success were different?

What if growth meant growth in other places? In better places?

Yes, we will grow eventually. But not like you may think. Our company name, for starters, involves the plural “advisors,” and that was no accident. I also unapologetically throw around the word "we" like we're an army, but we're not. There I did it again. It's just that recent events shake my confidence that growth through W2 employees is the best path. Instead, I’m considering alternative models in which I can help other consultants to become independent business owners themselves. Eventually, "we" will earn our plurality in due time, but there's no rush.

For now, I want to get the delivery model down just right. I want to spend a year, perhaps two, learning and refining my thoughts on what good looks like as a soloist practitioner in our industry. Then I’ll give thought to what scale even means while maintaining quality.

I tell them all, because I believe this in my heart. You can make a hell of a difference to someone just being you. The power of one. So yeah, I guest in the narrowest of legal interpretations of IRS code, I am just one, but I know that I am never alone. Therein lies the comfort, the difference, and the advantage.


If you are thinking about going solo, or maybe curious about why it's gaining so much traction these days, check out Company of One, by Paul Jarvis, and shoot me your thoughts after you finish it.

All for now,



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