$0 to $1 million in 12 months starting with nothing – 6 months in!
I started a project 6 months ago where I left behind everything I own, the money I’ve earned, my entire network, stepped away from my seven figure business, and I took on a new identity and went homeless.
I set out to make $1 million in 12 months starting with nothing aside from one pair of clothes and a cellphone. I had no place to live.
The purpose of the project was to help people going through a tough time because of the pandemic. I noticed a lot of people were reinventing themselves and it was an opportunity to help those going through that situation.
It’s been a really crazy six months. In most ways it’s been the best six months of my life in terms of personal growth and fulfillment, but it’s also been the worst six months of my life.
First, I’ll share what’s happened so far and then I’ll share everything I’ve learned since starting the Million Dollar Comeback project. Also, I’m happy to answer any and all questions that you have!
A Quick Update to Where I’m At Now With The Project
As of right now, the six month point, I’ve made a very underwhelming $28,000. I figured I’d be closer to the $100k mark at this point, but there are some exciting game-changers in the works.
The first couple of days were a real grind. I didn’t really eat for about three days and was wearing the same clothes. I was able to find someone to let me live in their RV for the first month and a half and I made $300 in profit the first couple days brokering free items on Craigslist. I split the profits with the owners so I didn’t have to transport items as I didn’t have a car. I did this for about the first week or so to make money before getting temporarily shadow banned on the Facebook Marketplace.
Getting On My Feet
I then saved up some money for a really bad used computer and got a few odd jobs on Upwork doing things like virtual assistant work making $15 – $25/hr (with no experience) and was able to start generating enough revenue to get on my feet. I used that money to get a $40 coworking office membership, and found someone who had a shared room for $400/m right down the street.
From there, I got my first marketing client for $2,000/m.
I took the profit from that to pay my bills and then found a grossly undervalued four bedroom house for rent in Austin for $2,000/m. I convinced the property management company to rent it to me for 18 months and let me re-rent the rooms. I made it a house for ecom founders and within 3 weeks had it fully furnished and the rooms filled totaling $3,600/m in revenue.
Because of the rules of the project—which assumes I have a really low credit score—I found a real estate investor on a Facebook group that I convinced to partner with me on it as purely a credit partner to co-sign the lease. I gave/am giving him 20% of profit after expenses. This whole deal was incredibly good because not only did it give me a free place to live for 18 months, but it cashflowed enough to cover all my living expenses so I could focus solely on building an ecom company.
Launched My First Ecom Company
I then took all the capital I made from the marketing client and the $1,600/m “profit” from the house and I’m dumping 100% of it into an ecom company (coffee brand) I started about a month ago (not sharing the name until the end of the project.)
Our first month in business we did about $4,000 in sales all organically through Etsy and TikTok.
Bad Personal Life Situation
So now my living expenses are fully covered because of the house, I have some good credibility I can leverage to build a network by having the house and a network of people that have helped me out a lot (because of the house.)
Everything was going in a pretty decent direction and then I got hit with horrible news—my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (Really not looking for sympathy – just sharing to explain below that I chose to leave Austin during a project like this.)
Small Project Pivot
When I found out about my dad, it was an easy decision to move back to my hometown to spend as much time as possible with family. I decided to still continue the project and stick to the same rules, I just had to make a couple of changes. One of them being that I brought on my girlfriend (who is on the production team for this) as an equity partner in the ecom business I started because I’m now spending a significant amount of time with my dad and wouldn’t be able to still hit the goal alone. My girlfriend and I packed up everything we owned in Austin and moved our lives back to the Philly area indefinitely.
I used the $900/m that I rented out my room for in the ecom house towards rent at the place I now live at in the Philly area.
Where I’m At Today
I officially have 6 months left to make $972,000. But now that I’m on my feet, have a place to live, my living expenses are covered, and I have about $5,000 to deploy, I’ll really be able to get things moving. As of today we’re about to launch our influencer campaigns and Facebook ads for the coffee company and I’m really excited to see where we can get the company before the project ends and where it will be by the end of the year.
So Now That You’re Caught Up, Here Are Some Things I’ve Learned So Far:
You’ll always find a way. This is something I really believe and have been deliberately trying to share in my messaging. On the first day of the project I tried flipping stuff on the free section of Craigslist, but all the items were just too far and I didn’t have a car. Everything I thought might work wasn’t working and I was super desperate. This led me to come up with an idea to broker deals on Craigslist that I would’ve never thought of if my back wasn’t against the wall like it was.
Starting from scratch was both really easy for me and also much harder than I expected.
Why it was easy – I personally am very happy living off of nothing and found the challenge of getting back on my feet exciting. I’ve had to do this in real life and felt the same way so it wasn’t much different. I don’t mind eating affordable food and sharing a room with someone.
Why it was hard – It was much harder than I expected to not leverage your network and truly have nothing and start from zero with no one to help. All the money I was making was going straight to paying bills before I could plow into the business, and I constantly had to buy necessities like a computer, a bike, thrift store clothes, etc. Also, not having a lot of things I take for granted like a car made things much more difficult, especially because I was so far outside of downtown Austin to start.
Having a different identity was really weird. Here’s what I learned:
First – It’s been very uncomfortable not telling people who I really am for obvious reasons and has caused a tiny bit of anxiety. I really don’t like it.
So far only two people I’ve met during the project have actually found out about the project- none of them were the people I lived with for months which is crazy to me.
I didn’t realize how much I leverage my current network and my past experience in real life when building relationships and I didn’t realize how much credibility is wrapped up in that. I always try to add value when building relationships and not being able to offer up a network and/or share value from past experience was challenging. This is something I share with those following along, often.
Making money with zero experience was really easy. I got a job offer on the 2nd day of the project for $9/hr off an ad on Craigslist. No experience. I actually had a couple more lined up the first week that paid up to $15/hr. This was during the midst of Covid when everything was shut down. This made me realize how easy it is to make money if you really want to.
You Can Learn Most Things In A Matter Of Weeks & Bill For It
When I was getting jobs as a VA and taking on work, a lot of things I didn’t know, like setting up and running Mailchimp. I let them know and didn’t bill for time learning, but felt very comfortable after just a week or so. From reading comments and DMs, it seems this is a huge barrier for most people. As long as you’re transparent and have value to add, you should price accordingly and have the confidence in yourself to know you have worth.
The most I’ve learned in the past 6 months has by far been creating content.
It’s also been the most challenging part of the project. In the first month and a half, I was spending 40-60 hours a week alone learning to produce content, managing team members, hiring/firing, etc. It was a real grind.
Before this project I had never used social media and had maybe 100 followers on Instagram. I understood at a high level how I would approach it, but never actually did it myself.
Knowing I wouldn’t have the time to produce and market the project myself I hired a team of people internally for the million dollar comeback project. 5 FTE’s in the US and 5 part-time overseas. The breakdown looks like this:
1 full-time videographer
2 full-time editors
1 full-time operations/project manager
1 full-time marketing director
part-time designer, wordpress dev, audio engineer, animation artist, and a VA
At the start we were putting out one to two posts per day on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, two videos per week on YouTube, one live stream, and two podcasts.
What I’ve learned is Gary Vee’s saying of “document, don’t create” is total bs. There is so much work that actually goes into documenting—far beyond what I expected.
All of this takes crafted strategy and storytelling, and in a lot of cases, creating is significantly easier and better than “documenting”—and this is all with a full blown team.
Growing On Social Media Is Hard
We get the message out about the project through social media. Right now, we have about 50k followers on TikTok, just 1,740 on Instagram, and 1,500+ on YouTube.
Instagram is very hard to grow organically, but TikTok is incredibly easy (right now at least). If you want to grow on Insta, the best way to do so is to spend time commenting on other posts (which we decided we absolutely didn’t have time to do). I’d rather spend that time talking to people who DM me because they are on a similar journey and answering questions on live streams to help however I can.
If you’re not on TikTok, you need to be. You can make one video and gain incredible organic exposure, but you have to post consistently.
Youtube requires really studying the algorithm and playing to it. It’s a longer game and takes time. There’s a lot of things I would have done differently with YouTube from the beginning and we’re still learning more as we go.
The Editor Is Everything
The most important role on the whole production team is editing. We now don’t have a videographer because of the move but can get by without one. The editor is the one that looks at all the footage every week and crafts a story from it that is enjoyable to watch in conjunction with some time I also have to spend with direction in a producer type role.
Always Be Your True Authentic Self
Since the beginning of the project, I’ve always just been myself. Some people didn’t like it because I curse a lot and I’m not politically correct, but it’s made it easier to get in front of the people who really resonate the most with the content. Most importantly, I don’t have to worry about acting or being someone I’m not. It’s made producing content and having cameras on all the time very easy and a lot more fun.
You Can Change Your Life In A Short Period Of Time
This isn’t something I learned – it’s actually the reason I started the project but worth listing. I truly believe that no matter what situation you’re in you can always change your life and do it pretty drastically in a short period of time. Going from being homeless to having a house full of ecom experts, a marketing client, and an ecom brand has given me a lot of momentum, credibility to build a network, and trajectory as “Mike Scott” in just six months. All of my bills are paid, AND I have money to deploy into the business. I recognize I have some prior knowledge and drive that others may not, but EVERYONE has knowledge or expertise in something. All it takes is hard work and some sacrifice.
There’s too much to list in terms of what I’ve learned about creating content and the project in general so if you do have any questions about running a content team, producing content, any of the businesses I started, about the project in general, or about starting over, I’m happy to answer them in the comments!
I’ll try to post updates more frequently on here as well if people are interested- these just take a bit of time to write and I have a lot of work to do over the next 6 months if I’m going to hit this goal :).
Thanks for reading! Let me know what questions you have!
Written by MSB5334