Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
A company or organization where most or all of the work is handled by one person. Most small businesses start out as a one-man band with the owner doing everything himself until he can afford to hire help.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a one-man band
COMMON If you describe a man or an organization as a one-man band, you mean that one man does every part of an activity himself, without help from anyone else. He seemed to be a one-man band, taking orders, and cooking and serving at table. I'm a one-man band, Mr Herold. At present I haven't even got a secretary. Note: A woman who is like this is sometimes described as a one-woman band. I am no better at being in two places at once than the next one-woman band. Note: A one-man band is a street entertainer who plays several different instruments at the same time.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
A person able to perform many different tasks well. The literal term applies to a musician who can play many instruments, sometimes even simultaneously. In one of his shows the composer and musical humorist Peter Schickele blew a bassoon while at the same time playing the piano with one hand or elbow. The term dates from the 1800s. The Burlington (Iowa) Hawk-Eye had it on July 1, 1876: “The one-man band, comprising drums, cymbals, violin, and a squeaking pipe . . . had one thing to recommend it. You can kill the drummer and thus obliterate the whole band.” The term is also applied to multitalented individuals in other fields.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer