One million in 999 days

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by an awesome dude called Dan, who has a similarly kick-ass ambitious goal like I do. His is to buy the L.A. Clippers. Nice! Check out the interview here:

Dan’s blog is:  dansfera.com and he’s a great example of how easily you can build your audience by ‘reaching out’ to people and helping them get what they want. Awesome. Dan contacted me through Twitter – yet another example of how Twitter is a must have weapon in your startup arsenal.

One Million in 999 days

Dan: Hey everyone, it’s Dan Sfera from dansfera.com. It’s just like my name you should see it at the bottom of the screen here. I’m very fortunate today to interview Howard Kingston. Howard has a remarkable story in a remarkable blog right now. It’s called startupremarkable.com and his got 999 days to make 1 million dollars and the countdown is 992 days left. So Howard tells us a little bit about yourself and about startup remarkable.

Howard: Yeah. Cheers, Dan. I’m Howard I’m an Irish guy. I’m living here over at London and this was because a year ago I was doing a PhD that was really [really] boring. I wasn’t really particularly getting excited about it and I decided to quit. So the day I handed in my resignation letter I jumped on a plane and flew to the other side of the world, Australia. And when I was over there I just started [really kinda] jumping in to startups stuff. Started learning lots about web marketing and started blogging and stuff like that and I recently just moved back to London where I am now. I’m working on with different startups and yeah I just wanted to set myself in a somewhat like crazy goal that can just completely take over the world and that is to make a million dollars in 999 days so I just started last week.

Dan: Right! Yeah. So your blog is new right? You just put it up there.

Howard: Pretty much. Yeah.

Dan: And now when you say you work with startups [are you] do you have a piece of their equity? Are you investing in them? Or are you consulting for them.

Howard: At the moment [the main one] my main client is just consultancy. I’m working for them 4 days a week.

Dan: Oh, okay.

Howard: So I go in and I pretty much I do all the marketing for them.

Dan: And so you do look the social media marketing or the traditional offline marketing? How does it work? What type of marketing do you do?

Howard: Well, I, typically work with web based startups that’s kind of the typical one and these guys they’re a web platform so it’s nearly all web based and local events, event management events, but mainly I do email marketing, social media, that kind of just SEO that sort of stuffs.

Dan: So in a way this blog is [I mean] it’s so unique and I would use the word outrageous because no one would ever predict a million bucks in a given amount of time. Is that genuine or is it a little bit of marketing, a little bit of self promotion is it a combination of the two?

Howard: Well I believe I can do it [yeah] 999 days and its two and a half years. I’m gonna be _____ 33 then. And yeah it’s genuine and I believe I can do it. But I suppose from a marketing point of view I know how important it is to have a story and I kinda locked it myself and said what is mine as well as you see a lot of stuff I’m bringing in my blog is marketing related and it has a lot to do with how we can start help people who are starting up their businesses. Stuff that I know just helps them get implemented in their own businesses. But as well as it just being another marketing blog I wanted to have some unique kind of story about it and I’m like uber ambitious and [yeah] so I have this goal and I thought [yeah] that’s perfect for it. It’s a perfect story.

Dan: So take us back to your last startup. I know you mentioned on your blog you were very bored with it. You’re obviously a very smart guy you’re working on your PhD and startup at the same time.

Howard: That’s right.

Dan: What made you quit that and focused on marketing, not only yourself, but helping other companies promote themselves. What kinda made you _____ it?

Howard: I’m _____ now just like what I’m doing in Ireland.

Dan: [Yeah], what made you shift here and kinda move on to what you’re doing now?

Howard: So the startup and PhD that I was doing it was kinda travel life so it was travel based I won’t go in to the details but you know I supposed the PhD and the travel are kinda more of a traditional business based [and after a certain] I was working on it for maybe about 9 months and at a certain point I kinsa saw that my business is quite traditional traditionally focused and my PhD are kinda their not necessarily forward thinking and you have to look a lot of theory that has been proven time and time again _____ risk taking.

Dan: Yeah, they’re very academic and not always… Right, I totally understand. I worked with a lot of doctors and they’re like the opposite of marketers.

Howard: Ok.

Dan: That what makes your story a little bit unique.

Howard: Yeah.

Dan: So how are you able to not only have that kind of mind set but also have this creative marketing type of mindset? That’s very unusual for people who have PhDs or were working on PhDs.

Howard: Well yeah I suppose following on that point [you know] I was doing the PhD during the day but in the evening time I just couldn’t get enough of fast company magazine or wired magazine, Seth Godin, all these kind of guys that are just doing rocking the world and changing the world in a really [really] cool way. And [yeah] during the day I kinda need to read this boring theory about stuff that is like [you know] years old and not really innovative. So [yeah], I just said listened I wanna be able to do anything I want to just throw all my eggs in one basket and just go out there someday. So that’s where really this change came from and even now I must say It is interesting to say about it being interesting mix because I do have kinda creative side but I constantly have to fight that going into too much detail and element of _____ that I learned from my PhD which is like very [very] detailed and for me to get a lot done fast you know this whole like Prieto, 80/20 Principle.

Dan: Right.

Howard: Like 80% of the results and 20% of your work. That’s something I have to fight constantly because I love just kinda going into [getting] doing things in a lot of details as well. So yeah that’s just a challenge I had to worked on but it’s still fun.

Dan: Yeah that’s something all of us entrepreneurs have to worked on and skills, ability and not being involved in everything but building a system to kind of help you achieve your goal. Without, like you said, putting a hundred percent of your time. It’s unique that you have this interesting skills because most startup they have a technical guy and they have like a creative marketing guy and usually become co-founder and you startup by yourself in order to reach the goal I would think that’s about 3 years. A little bit less than 3 years right? 999 days.

Howard: Yeah.

Dan: Do you plan on starting another startup or do you plan on growing your marketing company or all of the above or anything else you’ve got going?

Howard: Totally, yeah. For me to get to that goal it’s gonna have to be a seriously kick-ass startup and that’s where I want to be. As well as where I’m going at the moment, leaving my PhD was positioning myself in the right direction for that and now I’m just working on some great startups here in London waiting until I see the opportunity for the right startup that will bring me to the million dollars if that make sense. So I don’t have a million dollar idea yet but I’m constantly looking and I believe I’m going in the right direction and working with the right people. [So when] I have a couple of ideas but I don’t have one that I know that is ready yet if that make sense.

Dan: Yeah it makes sense. Look I’ll tell you from my experiences. My goal is to buy [the] an NBA franchise for 30 years so I should do a countdown like you have but for 30 years.

Howard: I saw that. What’s that club again?

Dan: It’s LA clippers but I’ll move them to San Diego that’s my goal.

Howard: Nice.

Dan: They just don’t know that yet.

Howard: That’s an awesome goal.

Dan: But I got 30 years so it’s a little longer time for them. I gotta think big picture.

Howard: Okay.

Dan: So yours is unique in that sense and it’s 3 years so it’s very typically a short term goal. And we have a lot of unique interest. I plan a great deal of that from investing, venture, _____ investing, investing in startups. I tried initially consulting with this type of companies and then especially the ones in my meeting in history and they’re branching out. Any similar goals for you or do you just want to create the companies yourself?

Howard: Well yeah I am consulting with the companies at the moment. I definitely want to create my own company that [you know] an idea I don’t have that kind of that urge that like create something that’s what I’m all about. Even though as much as I love working and helping other startups grow, ultimately I just want to take something that’s just like a seed of idea and get kick ass people around me [and]. I’d really get into an incubation like something like [you know] one of these tech stars or something like that and you know just meet the coolest the greatest people, the greatest mind in that area and yeah so definitely my own business growing.

Dan: That’s definitely a plan. startupremarkable.com Howard Kingston. Howard, as we wrap up your specialty is marketing obviously. Any free advice you can give our viewers? How can they better themselves, how can they better promote their companies especially the startup let’s say it’s a startup in online based what’s the best way for them to promote themselves?

Howard: That’s kind of a bit of a broad question but as long as they make sure that they have a compelling story. Now their customer really [really] well where they are where they live. Treat them really you know kinda pretty fundamental stuff. After that you’ll need tactics and stuff but without that fundamental core of knowing who your customers are inside out and what they want then yeah that’s it and everything else on top of that [you know] you can add to.

Dan: And finally because I’m a big reader any books.

Howard: Okay.

Dan: Any books that you’ve read that you recommend for let’s say young entrepreneur or an entrepreneur who’s just getting started out on a company.

Howard: Yeah, I’ll tell you one of the most kinda inspiration ones that you can read and just go “yeah, I can do this” is probably “Crush It” – Gary Veynerchuck [you know].

Dan: Ah yes, very good.

Howard: It probably didn’t have too much depth in it but just like for a whole momentum and inspiration. It’s an awesome book.

Dan: I like Crush It a lot better than Thank You Economy although I like that one too but it’s like after you’ve read Crush It you probably read up on all that kinda stuff that he talked about in Thank You Economy so it wasn’t really as impactful as Crush It was.

Howard: I totally agree, Dan. I kinda read it and [I was like] but I suppose [he’s probably] it’s more tailored for the more corporate market I thought.

Dan: Yeah, that’s what he’ll say if he’s on right now.

Howard: Yeah [yeah]. But I have to check out that one you’re recommending to me before the interview started. What was it called again?

Dan: Oh! MJ DeMarco he wrote the Millionaire Fast Lane.

Howard: Yeah yeah yeah.

Dan: And don’t be turned off by the cover it’s got a Lamborghini on it so it looks like this get rich quick book but it’s really not.

Howard: Sure.

Dan: It’s a fantastic book. I think he did that on purpose to kinda attract the people with that type of mind set and he just kinda flips them over and goes in great detail and full of excellent information on all things related to business. So check it out.

Howard: Awesome I’ll definitely check it out absolutely. Can’t wait.

Dan: And you guys check out startupremarkable.com follow Howard. See if he can reach a million dollars in 992days. Hey I mean I probably have to do the same thing without putting the ticker on there cause I got 30 years so 992 days is three years later and all I have is 27 years left so I better have at least a million bucks myself.

Howard: You said it you gotta have to reinvest that million dollars to get the club you know.

Dan: I might gonna have to follow you and try to copy some of your tactics and we’ll definitely do this again and I need all the help I can get. And if I get any good ideas I’ll send them your way. One good idea is Zinga. Zinga’s going public soon. So if you have extra cash they’re the ones who make Farmville and all that stuff.

Howard: Yeah yeah yeah.

Dan: Invest in Zinga on the 1st day that they start trading and you’ll at least double or triple your money within a month.

Howard: Okay. What you think they’re just gonna rocket?

Dan: Well yeah if you look at LinkedIn during the first hour that they went public they started at forty dollars and now it’s trading at a hundred and it’s a month later so you could’ve have bought in that forty let’s say you woke up a little later you buy it at 50.

Howard: So you think it’s gonna double then? So, if I can just find 500 grand and put it in and then I’ll have my million. And I’ll have 7 days 7 or 8 days gone.

Dan: Yeah you’ll have your million in 30 days so.

Howard: That would be nice.

Dan: Zinga. Just look out for it. It should come out around November. They should start trading.

Howard: Okay.

Dan: The thing is you have to wake up early that day cause if you buy it at the end of the day you’ll might get it at too high of a price. So, get it in like first half an hour that they’re trading if you can.

Howard: Well that’s ok because we’re a few hours ahead here in London.

Dan: There you go. Yeah. That was my problem in LinkedIn I overslept cause I’m here in California. By the time I woke up it was like eighty dollars already.

Howard: Well that’s on Wall Street of course, isn’t it? Eastern Time.

Dan: Right so I still bought some I made like 20% but if I would’ve woken up earlier I would’ve done the same thing and made 50%.

Howard: Yeah, those percentages.

Dan: So, it was an expensive sleeping in day.

Howard: Good stuff.

Dan: Alright, Howard, we’re gonna have you again. We’re gonna check in with you maybe every hundred days or every hundred fifty days.

Howard: Yeah yeah I love to that would be awesome.

Dan: We’ll do several interviews and we’ll hold you to it so in three years we’ll both be a lot older and hopefully richer.

Howard: You said it. Look forward to it.

Dan: Alright, thank you very much, Howard Kingston, from startupremarkable.com. Thank you very much.

Howard: Thanks, Dan.

 

Progress Report 1: Pre-launch (Nov – Jan ’11)

Startup remarkable report

Pre-launch. Nov 2010 – Jan 2011

Here’s where I report on how I’m progressing towards my goals of making $1 million in 999 days.

Each month I report on exactly how much I made, what things I’ve learned, what I’ve achieved and of course all the mistakes I’ve done (oh yes – I’m NEVER short on material for that section!). Expect my report the first week of each new month.

Goal is to be completely transparent to you – you’ll see what’s working for me, what’s not and what my strategies are. That way when you decide to go it alone, whether it be for $1, $1 million, $1 billion or just for fun – you won’t have to make all the mistakes I did. Hey, wouldn’t that make it so much easier?

What’s gone on so far – Nov 2010 – January 2011

So I’ve been busy since departing Ireland and arriving here in Australia 3-odd months ago. Overall I’ve been learning, taking action, making mistakes, learning, taking action, making mistakes (etc etc). Here are the highlights:

  • Escaped my PhD
  • Shelved my first start up (more on that later)
  • Hired my first full-time VA
  • Launched (and then re-launched) my consultancy site: Otakud.com
  • Approached/called 42 businesses offering them web marketing services – 2 successes (I only log this as income when I receive the money)
  • Read 47 business books on subject ranging from marketing, social media, psychology, sales, productivity….the list goes on.

My income & how I made it

$0

Eh, well none so far. But that’s ok. I’m starting from absolute scratch here. I had my eyes open that this would be an initial learning period while I transition from  university and the ‘old skool’ start-up I was pursuing over the past 9 month.

As I recite a quote from Jazz: The Only way is up!

Screen shots

Startup business income

Won't be buying the Porsche just yet....

Click Here to zoom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key things I learned

1.      Quitting something can be the most powerful and important thing you ever do

2.      Having a good full time VA is like a present sent from heaven

3.      It’s counterintuitive but the less you sell to people, the more receptive they are to what you want them to buy

4.      Building websites isn’t the ‘rocket science’ it used to be

5.      Reading books/doing courses are great – but you must have a system to record what you learn and take immediate action on them – or you’ll forget most of it

6.      I can live a minimalist lifestyle and be completely happy, even happier than when I have losts of cash (coming from someone who used to drink Mohito’s and buy steak dinners all weekend long –that’s a big statement!)

 

Challenges

  • Better start earning some $$ quick as savings are starting to run dry

Plan for next month

  • Hit Milestone 1 and 6 (both will need to be tested)
  • Expand my client base
  • Launch this site (hey if you’re reading this I’m doing ok)
  • Get a mentor
  • Join some Masterminds
  • Join Toastmasters

Awesome….will report my progress next month.

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.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/