12 Steps to $1 Million

Startup success

Imagine for a moment your dream, your goal. That might $1 million dollars, selling your first company or starting your first company.


How does it look and feel?

Or more importantly – how are you going to get there?

12 steps to $1 million

My goal is to make $1 million in 999 days, starting with $0.  This is a pretty big (think: monolith) by anybody’s standards I guess so game on! To achieve this, I’ve broken down this goal in to 12, not quite so daunting, and I believe very attainable milestones. It originally was going to be 10 but I just couldn’t decide between some milestones that all sounded awesome so I decided to include them all.

I’ll be testing every single milestone vigorously and publishing the results to prove I’ve attained them.

These are my 12 steps to $1 million.

So, what are they? – I’ve broken them into 3 main areas: Financial, Lifestyle & Growth/Learning*.

Milestone 1 – To Become Net Income Positive

Why? Simple: to be earning more from my own businesses than my total outgoings.


When I hope to achieve this by? Within the first 3 months


How will I test this? This key to this is to achieve this goal over a consistent period. The easy thing would be to pick a good day and believe I’ve achieved it, but I need to achieve this over a continuous period to know I’ve nailed it.

I’ll be monitoring my income/outgoings for myself and my businesses. Once I earn at least $1 more over a 2 month period, I’ve achieved the milestone.


Milestone 2– Achieve Passive Income

Why? Up until this point in my life I’ve always only earned active income i.e. traded hours for money in work etc. Passive income is the totally opposite of this – when a piece of work you did once continues to earn you income automatically, without your continued involvement. Think: making money while you sleep.

I think the attraction to passive income is evident  🙂

When I hope to achieve this by?

$500 p.m. passive income: Month 3 – 4

$1,000 p.m. passive income: End year 1

$2,000 p.m. passive income: 18 months

$5,000 p.m. passive income: 998 days

How will I test this?

Each month in my monthly report I’ll be itemising all my income and detailing how much of it is active and how much is passive.

I’ll also be doing 1 – 2 big tests every year to ensure the income is truly passive (see milestone 5)


Milestone 3 – To be earning $10,000 p.m. net in Personal Income

Why? Earning more every month is good

When I hope to achieve this by? 6 – 12 months

How will I test this? Will be publishing my income reports each month


Milestone 4 – Give to Social Causes

Why? Helping and giving to causes far, far bigger and in greater need than I am is what makes this whole project make sense. Think: Kiva, local charities, help the homeless or any needing project where I do not receive any direct financial gain (my rewards will come in the form of fulfilment and satisfaction).

When I hope to achieve this by?

Year 1: To give 100 hrs p.a. of my time to social causes

Year 1: To give $7,500 p.a. to social causes

Year 2: To give 150 hrs p.a. of my time to social causes

Year 2: To give $15,000 p.a. to social causes

How will I test this?

Will log all time and money I give in my monthly reports.


Milestone 5 – Design business so I am not required for it to run and work (Freedom!) allowing me to travel, network, learn as I please

Why? Freedom is one of my most highly treasured values.

When I hope to achieve this by? Day 1 with testing targets throughout time period.

How will I test this?

Every 6 months I will take a minimum of 3 weeks break from my current work location to travel/explore some cool part of the world. Mobile work interaction allowed. Income/expenditure fluctuations will be monitored & reported.

Once a year I will go digitally cold for 1 week to test if my passive income is truly passive. That’s no mobile, no internet, and no email. Nothing that has any electronics in it (even my iPod). Income/expenditure fluctuations will be monitored & reported.


Milestone 6 – Attain Work Life Balance

Why? Where’s the fun in making $1 million when you work 12 hour days and have no time to enjoy life/spend time with your loved ones and friends. I’m a self confessed workaholic so I’ve defo work to do here.

Goal is to work less and become healthier as I progress through this.


When I hope to achieve this by?

Day 1: 60 hours a week (an improvement on day 0!)

Year 1: 50 hours a week

Year 2: 40 hours a week

998 days: 30 hours a week


How will I test this?

  1. Tracking my work time using time tracking software and publishing all results (2 month consistant change must be obtained).
  2. Twice yearly ‘health checks’ to monitor my health, and show I’m getting healthier during the 999 days (I’ll publish these).


Milestone 7 – To attend 4 conferences per year (minimum)

Why? At conferences you learn cutting edge new stuff, meet and connect with likeminded people, get ideas, get inspired.

When I hope to achieve this by?


Year 1: Conferences I will attend


Year 2: Conferences I will attend


How will I test this?

I’ll be blogging and publishing interviews while I’m there for you to see.


Milestone 8 – Incubate a new high potential start-up

Why? One of my big goals is to launch a high potential start-up. I believe this to be my vehicle to reaching $1 million. I wish to do this while incubated in a high potential start-up program such as Techstars or Founders. However I’ve still a lot to learn before I’m ready for this.

Year 1: Attend Founders.

When I hope to achieve this by?

18 – 24 months – Attend a full time incubator


How will I test this?

You’ll know when I’m there 🙂


Milestone 9 – Interview 5 out of the following:


Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Branson, Kevin Rose, Robert Kiyosaki, Malcolm Gladwell, Gary Veynerchuck, Chris Brogan, Pat Flynn, Sterling OR Jay from IBM, Doug Richards, Simon Dunmore, Noel Gallagher, Jean-Claude Van Damme*

Some are obviously more realistic than others – but that’s the fun. All are heroes of mine.

Why? Got a hero? I’ve lots and I want to meet them all.

Also, I believe if I’m in the position to interview these people, reaching my other goals will largely take care of itself.

When I hope to achieve this by?


Ongoing over 999 days


How will I test this?


You’ll be the first to see them right here!

*I’m reserving the right to add 2 ‘heroes’ to this list as time goes on. We get new heroes all the time. Don’t worry, they’ll be big hitters!


Milestone 10 – Grow a community

Blog subscribers: 13,004

Twitter followers: 57,524

Why? Having a tribe of likeminded people to be inspired by is probably my biggest motivation for this entire project.

When I hope to achieve this by?

Name RSS Goals Twitter Goals
6 Month 1,000 2,000
Year 1 3,000 10,000
Year 2 8,000 30,000
998 Days 13,005 57,525


Wow that Twitter figure is big!!


How will I test this?

I will publish all follower numbers.

*How did I come to this figure? Well I took 5 bloggers I admire that have either:

  1. Made it (Tim Ferris)
  2. Are making it (Pat Flynn, Maren Kate, Corbett Barr)
  3. Or have just started but are doing it so well you know they’re going to make it (Emilie Wapnick)

I took their follower number on 26th February 2011 and got an average. If the actual numbers weren’t public I took whatever was published or an educated guess.

Name RSS Followers Twitter Followers
Pat Flynn 18,243 48,875
Tim Ferris 25,000 218,267
Corbett Barr 4,290 4,349
Maren Kate 16,485 15,751
Emilie Wapnick 1,000 380
Totals 65,018 287,622
Average 13,004 57,524


Milestone 11 – Be Featured in/ Speak at 5 of the Following

Fast Company, Economist, The Guardian, Mashable, Four Hour Work Week Blog, Wired, Techcrunch, Forbes, Time Magazine (cover would be nice), Innovation Magazine, Ted (Tedx will do), any of the conferences I’ve listed in Milestone 7, my old school, IBM Podcast, my old universities.

Why? One of my goals is to be a thought leader in my field. All these publications/events have either influenced my thinking over my life, or I just think would be cool to be featured in (e.g. Time Magazine).

When I hope to achieve this by?

Ongoing over 999 days



How will I test this?

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to tell you.


Milestone 12 – Make my first Angel Investment

Why? When the 999 days is up and I’m moving onto the 1,000th+ day, I’d like to be in a position I can invest in and help passionate young start-ups, a bit like I am now.

When I hope to achieve this by?

I’ll be posting  the results right here.


How will I test this?

I really like Tim Ferris’ post on this. I’ll be following his advice and posting the results right here.

*Acknowledgements: Massive props to Geoff, my mentor, who together with being an all round totally awesome dude, helped me attain focus on what milestones are important to me.



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