The biggest misconception about a one-person business is time.
Because it’s just you, you have to efficiently use time better than any other tool or leverage point. If you stuff up time, you’ll run out of it and burn out.
No one talks about this.
Here are 11 things that cause a one-person business to grow to 7-figures (from a guy who’s done exactly that).
A reliable business model
Many one-person businesses are built on cheap hacks.
They have strategies that work short-term but can be nuked by the platform, community, or software that helps enable them.
The best one-person business model I’ve found is a combination of one-off sales and subscription revenue. But here’s where I break paradigms…
Monthly subscriptions suck. I only do annual subscriptions.
The reason is a one-month subscription is a one-month series of dates. It’s transactional and it’s highly unlikely to lead to an annual relationship.
What you want is annual subscriptions. They’re people that commit to you. And after a year there’s a good chance they’ll be indoctrinated into your way of doing things and want to stick around.
Whereas monthly subscriptions churn. They’re lukewarm.
So if you want to make 7 figures then get serious about one-off sales and an annual subscription offer people can’t refuse. And perhaps avoid having a monthly option that’s nothing more than a decoy.
Trust gets you further. Marketing tricks get you nowhere.
More intensity than you think you need
Many people have great one-person businesses.
But they never get past $10,000 in annual revenue and can’t figure out why. The reason is they lack intensity. They publish one tweet for the month and then go “Shouldn’t I be a millionaire now?”
Business doesn’t work like that.
You need intensity. You need to overcome massive roadblocks and setbacks to find the path that’ll take you to time freedom.
That’s not going to happen if you only spend an hour a week on it or if your mindset goes to rock bottom after one bad customer review. A one-person business is a marathon.
It takes a few years to get traction so you don’t need to spend 40 years working a job. The trade-off is 100% worth it.
There are almost 7B people on this planet. Someday, I hope, there will be almost 7B companies — Naval Ravikant
More content than Gary Vee produces in a day
This one sucks for many of you.
A modern one-person business is built off a pillar of content. Content is the marketing, unless you want to pay Zucks big bucks for ads and rent an audience. So you need a content operating system.
- What social media platforms?
- How many posts a day?
- Will you repurpose content? Where?
With a proper action plan it’s possible to get traction on social media sooner than you might think. But it requires more volume than a lot of people are prepared to create.
A powerful network
A one-person business is deceptive.
It looks like it’s built by a single person. Nothing could be further from the truth. Solopreneurs are way more collaborative than the average person thinks. They’re in group chats on Slack, Telegram, and Whatsapp.
They’re sharing each other’s content, trading monetization strategies, swapping algorithm facts, and talking about new techniques.
The business is built by one person but 50–100 people influence it.
So to run a decent one-person business, you need to learn the art of sending a direct message or email that gets a reply. Having read thousands of DMs I can tell you the average person has no clue.
The most common message I get is “Hi.”
No joke. Who has the time to respond to that? It could be an ax murderer or the FBI trying to investigate you.
Make friends in the DMs.
A diversification strategy better than an index fund
Many solopreneurs chuck all their chips on red at the internet casino and hope for the best.
I see it with writers all the time. The places they write enslave them and they’re too scared to break free from the oppression. They start telling themselves things are great when they’re actually being held captive.
A smart solopreneur is diversified.
They get their leads from multiple places, money from different spots, and key help from a variety of freelancers. Expect suspect behavior from platforms and act accordingly.
Data-backed risks your grandma would be proud of
Running a one-person business requires lots of mini-decisions.
Some of these decisions can destroy your business if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s best to make data-backed choices.
I do this with regular surveys and through reading lots of comments on my work. I don’t make wild pivots in any direction. I’m cool, calm and collected, and gradually shift in new directions when the data tells me to.
Right now the data is telling me to go all in on newsletter recommendations and to spend most of my audience growth time there.
So that’s what I’m doing.
Take calculated risks. But whatever you do, don’t guess … or hope!
Paying attention to where the market is heading
It’s easy to get stuck in a dinosaur business.
I operate in the online education space and I’ve seen it plenty. In the old days you used to publish pre-recorded video courses and that’s it. But now that content is low-value and anyone can pirate it so users get it for free.
So one has to evolve. I saw this trend a while back and started pivoting away from what everyone else was doing.
I figured out the value was in accountability, coaching, real feedback, and community … and headed in that direction.
You must be agile too.
Being plugged into the global economy
The economy affects your business whether you like it or not.
I spend some of my time consuming macroeconomic data and understanding what’s happening in finance.
In recent times this has allowed me to prepare in advance for the multiple recessions we’ve had since March 2020. It’s also allowed me to take advantage of the upcoming bull market that most people have missed.
You can make money from a one-person business. But you can make even more money when those dollars are invested in smart assets and produce cash while you sleep.
The overall compound nature of investing means you don’t need to work as hard on your one-person business as everyone else.
I have one meeting a week with my co-teacher.
Other than that I keep my calendar empty. I don’t say that to brag, I tell you because meetings destroy productivity. Most of them could have been an email or a DM.
Avoid meetings so you can work on the business with the extra time, instead of in the business.
Clever systems anyone can figure out
Parts of a one-person business will eventually need to be outsourced.
If you have no systems and it’s all in your head … you’re dead. From day one you want to at least have basic checklists.
As things evolve, you want Loom screenshare videos stored in the cloud that you can send to people who may freelance for you.
This is the information a VA, EA, or freelancer will use to support you as you transition from 6 figures to 7.
I haven’t seen a 7 figure business ever operate without at least one freelancer, so be warned. At the same time, you don’t need an army of workers saying “yes sir/mam.”
You just need simple systems.
A stack of humility
Ego destroys good businesses.
People can get on their high horse and start screaming at the very people who can help them. Today I had a problematic supplier do harm to me.
Instead of getting angry, I got on a call with the CEO. I told him the situation and listened to their side of the story. It turned out the whole thing was a misunderstanding. Now our partnership is stronger than ever.
That’s what happens when you leave your ego at home and treat people with the respect they deserve.