I like to tell people that I run a business with no employees and no customers. You can watch the wheels turn as they chew on that one. If they are business owners themselves they almost always have a wistful response that includes a “I hope that works for ya” look.
The fact is there are very successful businesses that are profitable without employees or customers – they’re called investment or trading firms. In many cases they may be an individual or partners that only trade on their own account (they don’t manage money). Taking some capital and growing it via investing or speculation is an age-old business that is not reliant on customers or dependent on employees.
The domain world is simply the latest incarnation of this business model. Of course you can hire employees but you don’t necessarily have to. And you could provide domain services like development to customers but why would you make money for them that you could be making for yourselves? Domaining can liberate you from these responsibilities if you don’t want to deal with them. It might take longer to grow but the upside potential is still huge – after all how many businesses can you start with an $8 name and a hosting account?