“Nobody builds wealth without leverage.“
💎 Why It Matters
You should know what leverage is and how to build it.
You need to find a way to provide value at scale.
What are you best at?
Find your highest point of leverage.
Eliminate, automate, outsource or delegate everything else.
Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses
- James Clear • Atomic Habits is a book and a blog about habit formation
- AJ • Carrd is a no-code editor for building one-page websites
- Paula Pant • Afford Anything teaches how to invest in real estate
- Ben Thompson • Stratechery writes about business, strategy and tech
- Jack Butcher • Visualize Value teaches product design, development, marketing and branding
- Mike Carson • Park.io automates domain backordering
- Hal Elrod • The Miracle Morning is a book on productivity daily morning rituals
- We’ll see more million-dollar NFT artists. Selling exclusive ownership of unique digital assets.
- Pak sold The Merge for $91,800,000 and Clock for $52,700,000.
- Beeple sold Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69,000,000 and HUMAN ONE for $28,985,000.
- John Watkinson and Matt Hall from Larva Labs created CryptoPunks. Selling several pieces for millions of dollars.
- There will be more million-dollar, one-person media empires. Operating across multiple platforms, niches and industries. Online and offline.
- Mr. Beast has several YouTube channels, Mr. Beast Burgers and Feastables.
- Jonathan Little has Poker Coaching courses, Poker Coaching Podcast and a YouTube channel.
- Hal Elrod sold 2,500,000 copies of The Miracle Morning. He runs a blog, podcast, course and does keynote speaking.
- Seth Godin has a blog, podcast, workshop, books, online courses and does public speaking. Which led to a net worth of $50,000,000+.
- Scott Galloway has a YouTube channel, newsletter, The Pod and Pivot podcasts, books and classes. His speaking gigs bring in $5,000,000 a year.
- Productized services will commoditize creative tasks. Non-core competencies will be outsourced.
- Designjoy, ManyPixels, Penji and Growmodo design apps, websites, logos and more.
- Derokki, Eldur Studio, Unlimited App Development and SuperWebPros build websites.
- Video Husky, Kimp, Design Pickle and Pierce Unlimited help with video editing and motion design.
- Content Cucumber, Reel Unlimited, Panda Copy and WordAgents write SEO-optimized content.
- Find your core competency. Focus on what you’re best at.
- Allen Walton worked in retail and e-commerce. He grew SpyGuy to 7 figures.
- Michelle Tascoe made $1,200,000 from 1-on-1 financial coaching and is on track to $500,000 ARR.
- Adrian Wood worked in the music industry for a decade. He grew Modern Producers to $120,000 MRR.
- Stacy Berman is a fitness trainer who grew her year-round outdoor fitness Bootcamp to $1,000,000 ARR.
- Xue Zhaofeng is an economist who launched a course on economics that brought $8,000,000+ in sales.
- Kendall Summerhawk won 9 Stevie® Awards for her business-coaching certification firm for women. Which she grew to $2,000,000.
- Mike Carson is a software developer who loves automating tasks. He grew Park.io to $1,500,000 ARR. Which is an automated domain backordering tool.
- Nathan Latka founded Heyo which raised $2,500,000. He shares his learning on running a SaaS business on his podcast that generated $1,000,000+ in sponsorships.
- Build in public to gain brand awareness, feedback and trust.
- Brett Williams builds Designjoy in public.
- Jack Butcher built online courses for Visualize Value in public.
- Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger built Tailwind UI in public. Which grew to $2,000,000.
- Nathan Barry built ConvertKit in public. What started as a public challenge grew to $32,000,000+ ARR.
- Learn high-leverage skills. Design, code, write, sell, teach, invest, market and entertain.
- KSI is a YouTuber who makes songs, does boxing and has a YouTube show.
- Ana Gavia is a self-taught designer who grew PINKCOLADA to $1,000,000+ ARR.
- Brian Dean runs Backlinko. Which is one of the most authoritative SEO blogs on the internet.
- Adam Wathan is a full-stack developer who made $2,500,000 selling books and courses on web development.
- Ben Thompson grew Stratechery to ~$3,200,000 ARR. Where he writes about the strategy and business side of technology and media.
- Build multiple streams of income. Diversify your income and increase your chances of success.
- Tim Ferris sells books and podcast sponsorships.
- James Clear offers Atomic Habits, The Clear Habit Journal and keynote speeches.
- Tiago Forte offers a cohort-based course, books, podcast sponsorships and speaking opportunities.
- Pieter Levels makes $2,700,000+ a year with Nomad List, Remote OK, Rebase, Make, InteriorAI and Avatar AI.
- Michelle Schroeder-Gardner made $1,536,732 from an online course, affiliate marketing, sponsorships and advertising.
- Ali Abdaal made $4,849,418 in sales from 15 income streams. Including courses, sponsorships, books and more.
- Key-Person Risk • If you are not replaceable, your business will fail without your presence.
- Platform Risk • Platforms are single points of failure. They ban million-dollar, one-person content creators for violating their content policies. Amouranth was suspended from Twitch, Instagram and TikTok for creating adult content. She restored her accounts, started creating platform-specific content and grew to $1,400,000 MRR.
- Burnout • As a solo founder you are responsible for products, sales, marketing, operations, logistics, finance and more. Taking on too much pressure may lead to burnout. Brett Williams grew Designjoy to $1,920,000 ARR and burned out.
🔑 Key Lessons
- Hiring is a natural part of the journey of a successful one-person business. Markus Frind hired his first employee when he grew Plenty of Fish to $10,000,000 in revenue. Which later scaled to $100,000,000 ARR, 75 employees and was sold to Match Group for $575,000,000.
- Don’t outsource your core competency to another business. Martin Zwilling says outsourcing your “secret sauce” is like giving up control of your company.
- Gain deep knowledge and share it to build a personal brand. Matthew Weinberg says “Go deep on a single topic and become well known in that niche.”
- High-ticket services can help you reach the $1,000,000 mark faster. Shannon Graham reached 7 figures with only 4 clients.
🔥 Hot Takes
- Many businesses that could be million-dollar, one-person businesses are not. The opportunity costs of doing everything yourself can push founders to build teams.
- Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool for one-person businesses. Using word-of-mouth campaigns, Amanda Tress grew FASTer Way to Fat Loss to $65,000,000 in 2 years. Alex Tew made $1,037,100 in 4 months with The Million Dollar Homepage due to the internet’s lightning-speed word of mouth.
“A million dollars in profit or revenue?”
A million dollars in revenue. Which is the top 1% of one-person businesses.
“You mentioned businesses that have teams.”
These businesses used to be run by one person when it was feasible. Nicole Brown grew Izzy & Liv to $3,000,000 ARR on her own. Then grew it to $7,000,000 ARR with a team of 8 that helps her with product sourcing, branding and more. Most million-dollar, one-person businesses get help.
“Selling a personal brand is not the same as selling a stake in a company.”
While you can’t sell equity in an individual, you can sell future profits. Brett Williams wants to sell a stake at Designjoy. Which is a pure one-man design business. Investors will keep 80% of profits for a fixed monthly fee.
- Looking for million-dollar, one-person businesses • The tweet behind this report.
- Trends PRO #0065 — Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses • The previous version of this report.
- How I’ve Made Over $1,097,757 • How to start and grow a million-dollar blog by Jeff Rose.
📁 Related Reports
- No-Code • These tools power a lot of million-dollar, one-person businesses
- B2B SaaS • How to build, market and grow B2B SaaS
- Product-Led Growth • How to build a product that sells itself
- Self-Publishing • How to write, publish and sell books yourself
- The Creator Economy • Many million-dollar, one-person businesses are content creators
Thanks to Nash Kabbara, Dean Shoven, Rick Jarrell, Paul Jansen, Stewart Townsend and Holger Sindbæk. We had a great time jamming on this report.
✏️ Emin researched and wrote this report. Dru researched and edited this report.
📈 What else?
Trends PRO #0104 — Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses has more insights.
What you’ll get:
- 31 Million-Dollar, One-Person Business Examples (343% More)
- 8 Predictions (167% More)
- 15 Opportunities (275% More)
- 6 Risks (100% More)
- 11 Key Lessons (175% More)
- 4 Hot Takes (100% More)
- 13 Links (334% More)
With Trends Pro you’ll learn:
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