How to Start a Million Dollar Business

Hint: Take yourself out of the equation

Toni Koraza
Apr 21, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

A healthy business is scalable.

Every investor parroted the magic question on my first Startup Week in China. Tycoons, talents, and competition wanted to know how fast can we expand the business. Venture investors took the stage with grim tales of losing millions with companies that just couldn’t grow. The ominous chant was stuck in my head by the end of the week. “Scalable, scalable, is your business scalable?”

The idea we pitched at the event was attractive for international investors. Education was all the rage in 2019 in China. My team proposed an app for private 1-on-1 tutoring. The idea was to liberalize the education market by offering students the freedom to choose their educators. Our users could order a piano lesson in the same way they order food. We called it UberSchools as a running joke. (I won’t disclose the App name due to obvious legal implications.)

Enterprises, Government officials, and individual investors wanted to jump on the education train. At one public event, a Chinese government offered to finance the project with an additional 100 000 000RMB. We dismissed it as a publicity stunt. Politicians can’t resist giving wild promises when journalists are around.

We foolishly declined the following offers thinking we can fund our idea with the cashflows from another company. The leading developer quit months into the project, and we got carried away by other stuff.

But I won’t forget a question parroted by every investor: “

Ever grow

A healthy business can handle rapid expansion. If you can grow the customer base and fulfill demand, you have a scalable business.

How to make your business scalable? You’ll need a set of rules and principles that are proven to produce good value.

In the globalized world, scalability is investors’ porn. Money institutions want to award ideas that quickly win over the hearts of the masses.

Your company

If you’re a business owner — blogs and websites count too — you’re wondering how to make more money. Such questions are typical in any business. The bottom line is to make a profit. Otherwise, you’re running a charity.

One question will tell if a business or if a business. The latter can’t survive without you, and the former can make millions.

Ask yourself. “Am I replaceable? Is every person that works with me replaceable?” If the answer is no, you don’t have a million dollar idea. You have a boutique.

If you’re the only lifeline, you’ll have trouble making more money. You might suffocate on a miscalculated burger bite tomorrow. And your business would be gone forever. Your family and employees would have to close the shop.

Now, let’s imagine a scalable business. Apple is an epitome of success. The company skyrocketed in value after the death of Steve Jobs. Tim Cook — a successor and the current CEO — made Apple into the wealthiest public company. Why? Because Apple had a working system that can function without the founders.

If a hurricane hits Apple factories and kills the upper management in one cataclysmic event, the shareholders could still raise money, hire new people, and continue producing new technology.

The moral of the story: Healthy business is a scalable system.

Business system

A business needs a set of rules and principles to produce constant value. How can media outlets, bands, and startups make money with new employees?

“A is designed to connect all of an organization’s intricate parts and interrelated steps to work together for the achievement of the strategy. … Creating effective often unifies the problem solving and decision making of the organization.” — LeanMethods

Bands like Joy Divisions and AC/DC have done the same thing as Apple. The bands grew even more successful after their frontmen died. The frontmen were unique artists, but the bends had systems to make what they make best — good music.

Your blog or a writing career can use the same advice.

Don’t just write, create a system that will help anyone write the same way you write. Create guidelines to make the engine roar long after you’re gone.

Individuals produce chocolate and beer, but they’re not Ferrero Rocher or Budweiser. Blogs become Media powerhouses with the right systems. Medium doesn’t have to write a single article to deliver excellent writing. Do you even know the founder of Medium? Evan Williams started the platform in 2012. But you don’t need him to profit from his idea. Your next story can change the world without the man. But you need his platform.

The takeaway

If the boss is irreplaceable, the business has a problem. Investing in one person is not a long-term option.

A right system will grow your ideas beyond belief.

You probably can’t imagine your blog or your art without yourself. Founders have a problem of letting their creations run free. But to create a great business, you’ll have to take yourself out of the equation.

A million-dollar company is nothing more than a set of rules and principles that others can follow.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Join The Startup’s +788K followers.

Sign up for Top 10 Stories

By The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Subscribe to receive The Startup's top 10 most read stories — delivered straight into your inbox, once a week. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Toni Koraza

Written by

Curious Fellow | Founder at MadX.Digital & Mad Company | 500+ stories | Free Covers: unsplash.com/@tonikoraza

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

Toni Koraza

Written by

Curious Fellow | Founder at MadX.Digital & Mad Company | 500+ stories | Free Covers: unsplash.com/@tonikoraza

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store