“To get rich, you need leverage. Leverage comes in labor, capital, code and media.”
💎 Why It Matters
These are strategies and tactics to build leverage.
You need to find a unique way to provide value. At scale.
What am I best at?
What am I most interested in?
What can I stick with the longest?
Find your highest point of leverage.
Eliminate, automate, outsource or delegate everything else.
- Jack Butcher • Visualize Value
- Mike Perham • Sidekiq
- Mike Carson • Park.io
- Brian Dean • Backlinko
- Laszlo Nadler • Tools4Wisdom
- Ben Thompson • Stratechery
- Paula Pant • Afford Anything
- Abstraction will lead to more million-dollar, one-person businesses.
- Marketplaces help you with distribution.
- On-demand manufacturers help you with fulfillment.
- No-Code and Low-Code tools help you with automation.
- Open source libraries and APIs help you write less code.
- Productized Services help you outsource tasks that can’t be automated.
- Labor will shift from one of the worst forms of leverage to the one of the best. Crowdsourcing mixes code and labor to skip the messiness of management, solve problems that code can’t with no marginal costs. See Wikipedia and Stack Overflow.
- Audience-first product operations will be commoditized. See Mr. Beast Burgers, “O, That’s Good!” and Kylie Cosmetics. The brands are unique. The backends are not.
- Find a way to provide unique value. At scale. What can you stick with? Compounding takes time.
- Joe Rogan signed a $100 million deal after a decade of podcasting.
- Annie Duke earns $50,000 per speech after decades of playing poker.
- Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million after 5,000 consecutive days of releasing art.
- Build an audience first. This is a common pattern for million-dollar, one-person businesses. Paula Pant taught thousands to invest in real estate (for free). Before earning $1 million from her course. Trust can be monetized in many ways.
- Keep it simple. Mike Perham lets enterprise clients contact him up to once per quarter for support. Sam Schrup says “My job is to eliminate support emails.” Mike and Sam invest in scalable documentation. Complexity costs. Especially for teams of one.
🔑 Key Lessons
- Building trust is hard. Monetizing trust is easy. With digital products, courses, paid newsletters, paid communities, NFTs, angel investing, physical products, ads and more.
- You have a unique set of interests and experiences. Use this to build a micro-monopoly. Li Jin says monetize your individuality. Naval says escape competition through authenticity.
- Focus on your comparative advantage. Once you’ve found a game that works. Focus. Concentration builds wealth. Put your eggs in one basket and watch that basket.
- On terms
- Million-dollar businesses have at least $1 million in annual revenue.
- One-person businesses have one full-time employee.
“These are million-dollar, one-person jobs. Not businesses.”
We looked at value ladders and the shift from leveraged to passive income. Play and work are often indistinguishable to those above. What feels like play to you and work to others?
“These people have help.”
Mike reached $1 million in 2017 as one person. Taylor made more than $1 million each year from 2014 to 2017 with no employees. A purist may still be unsatisfied if these guys had an accountant. We’ll ignore the purists. Don’t miss the lesson on leverage.
“These are outliers.”
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. As Naval says, code and media are permissionless forms of leverage. Our examples emphasize judgment over innate abilities.
- The Almanack of Naval Ravikant • A book on leverage.
- Building a $1 Million Business Solo with Mike Perham of Sidekiq • Mike uses open source as a channel and simplifies customer support.
- Creating an Ecosystem for Millions by Building for Yourself with Taylor Otwell of Laravel • “From 2014 to 2017 it was just me. Laravel was making over a million dollars a year before I brought anyone on.”
📁 Related Reports
- Audience-First Products • How to build and monetize trust.
- No-Code • Making code leverage accessible.
- Personal Brands • Leveraging key-person risk.
- Online Courses • Move from done-for-you to done-with-you and do-it-yourself offers.
- Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses • The first version of this report.
- Paid Newsletters • Email is a one-to-many and one-to-one channel.
- Crowdsourcing • Leveraging labor with low coordination costs.
- Productized Services • On scaling services.
- Alternative Assets • Get paid for good decisions.
- AI-Generated Content • Automatic content machines.
- Low-Code • Find leverage through less code.
- NFTs • A new medium for artists.
- Social Tokens • On shared interests and shared outcomes.
- DeFi • On permissionless access to invest.
- DAOs • Unstoppable organizations with low coordination costs.
- Drop Culture • On artificial scarcity and brand building
Thanks to Jack Butcher (Visualize Value), Stewart Townsend (Channel as a Service), Jeremy Abraham (Spiffy), Yarty Kim (Bourne Fighter), Alex Pethick (LeadTree), Yolanda Stephens (Sprint as a Service), Wit Sumathavanit (Builders’ Sun), Rick Segal (CRAAG Angel Group), Kimsia Sim (GreenDeploy), Lu Doan (Agent Shield), Sam Schrup (TextRetailer), Vishal Srivastava (Trainedge), Vincent Haywood (Vhdigital), Monika Birkner (Freedom Business), Ray Deck (Sustained Ventures) and Jamil Abreu (Substack). We had a great time jamming on this report.
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