1000 days from now Inclusivity Hub will turnover £1million!
Hearing that without any context I would guess that you probably have questions, lots of them in fact.
Questions such as "what is Inclusivity Hub?", "why should I care?", "what are you doing in my bathroom?", those sort of common everyday questions.
Well I will try and answer those questions.
It is a long article (I am introducing the next 1000 days of my life so there is a fair bit to say!) and I don't expect too many people to read it in it's entirety, but if you do I am sure you will find at least a few interesting things that will make you want to follow me for the ride! (Actually I don't expect many people to read it at all as it will be a #watercooler post and we know those don't get much visibility 🤣)
And don't worry, most of the posts that follow on from this one will be shorter and more focused!
Anyway, let me explain what I am doing and why as I think it is going to be interesting!
I have spent the last 18-24 months building a database all around accessibility and disability.
A few weeks ago I was taking stock of the project and I realised that I will never complete the database (to a stage where I can release the product associated with it) on my own. It needs money and time and I am certainly not in a position to go looking for investment to complete it as I would have to give up far too much of the company at this stage.
So a few weeks ago I reassessed the direction I was taking.
Why was I building this database in the first place? (to improve accessibility)
Can I produce a product or service more quickly that could generate the revenue required to pay for staff and researchers to complete this product? (as I still want to build it at some point as it could really be a game changer)
Everything that follows is a result of that reassessment and I really do hope you find it interesting!
I won't say that the last 18-24 months have been completely wasted as I still have the work done on the database so far, but they haven't been productive months overall and have cost me a small fortune.
So in essence I am back at square one! Zero turnover other than a few long standing clients and next to zero capital to work with (as I burned through most of my savings in order to work less so I could build the database!)
Now that realisation really did hurt (a lot) a few weeks back. It kind of still stings now to be honest as I have a lot of passion for that project.
But in reality, here I am, nearly 2 years of "wasted" effort, a load of money "wasted" and having to start from scratch with nothing but the knowledge in my head and some good contacts to work with.
Despite all that (and after licking my wounds) I realised, this is actually where the fun starts! Other people have built epic stuff from this position, I just needed to work out how to emulate them!
After some thought I decided to run an experiment, a mega experiment at that.
What would it take to go from "zero to hero" in less than 3 years?
I have built some decent "lifestyle" businesses, but what about building a big business, a business that could be a behemoth in 5 or 10 years time, a world changer?
You know, the sort of trajectory a lot of us would like to take but never quite find the gumption to give it a go or believe we can achieve?
Now there are a lot of steps between the zero to hero random thought and this article, but it all boils down to falling in love with the idea of 1000 days to £1million as an interesting goal and being able to take the first step with this article.
But I didn't stop there. Oh no!
I spent ages trying to work out how I could work the changes in my personal life that would be required to achieve this into the equation too!
Essentially this is a 1000 day experiment where I cut out the stuff that isn't productive, optimise the things I have to do, and channel the extra time and energy into building something awesome, all while "bearing my soul" to the public! Eek!
Or to put it another way, this is a 1000 day study with 1 participant on how systemising your life and planning more than a few weeks ahead can change your trajectory (or completely fail, who knows, that is the point of the experiment!) and turn you (me) into a super human!
I have been a busy boy over the last 8 weeks.
A couple of days of feeling sorry for myself first of all, followed by a couple of days of frustration and then I was in a place to pick myself up and start reassessing.
I grabbed my focused writing software (it is called Cold Turkey Writer), set it to 4000 words minimum and just wrote.
This is known as free writing (writing without purpose and without editing or even worrying if what you write makes any sense) and I find it really useful to help access thoughts that are buried deep in my subconscious.
I spewed my anger and frustration onto the page, my darkest thoughts about myself and the world laid out in front of me (you know, the "I failed", "I wasted a load of time", "I wish I had been born with a small fortune" sort of harmful crap we tell ourselves while sat in our nice and warm houses surrounded by nice things, completely unaware of how lucky we are).
I was about 1500 words into this tirade of self pity when suddenly the following sentence dropped onto the page (out of context it might look weird but I was ranting to myself about wasting time on menial tasks!).
"I wish I had spent more time systemising things today to save time tomorrow."
I mean, it is almost poetic! Are you crying at the beauty of my musings? No? Well how rude!
Anyway, being serious for a second, that one sentence switched my brain into a different gear. It is one of the reasons I love freewriting and should do it more often.
Systemisation is what my brain likes to do! Look at a process and find a way to systemise it is fun to me! Taking a long look at the opportunity cost of doing something (spending 20 hours systemising a process) vs the reward (an hour saved a week) and whether it is worth investing the time (absolutely).
I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole of idea generation and thought.
4 hours later (and a total of 6500 words) I had the outline of the most ambitious plan I have ever conceived.
I was going to invest the time into long term gains even if it means short term pain.
That was the crux of it, a mentality of "focus on next year instead of the next week or next month".
At that point I went to bed, it was late!
The next day I was full of nervous energy. The voice in the back of my head was going "don't be silly, this will never work", but a louder voice was going "yeah, but just imagine if it did, nothing on that list is impossible, far from it, it is just difficult and will require some serious discipline".
Needless to say I am here and writing this article so the good voice won!
Ok Ok, I know that was a lot of build up, but honestly you needed to know the context.
I am going to build...A Content Management System (CMS)
boo, hiss, I waited for that!? are you kidding me! I hear you say.
Just hang on, there is a hell of a lot more to this I promise.
This isn't a story about building a CMS, this is a story of thinking in systems. This is a story of how to turn yourself into one of those 10x people who seem to be able to do everything.
I am going to be sharing a lot more than just the journey of building and launching a CMS (I am twitching every time I say that, I promise I have some interesting ideas that will make it stand out so hang in there a little bit longer and I will explain and justify undertaking something that I would normally say you should avoid!).
I am going to be sharing some of the systems I put in place to save time, the tools I build to help manage my time, optimise my workout regime, eat well, manage content creation, marketing, business planning and more!
Essentially by the end of this experiment I am hoping I will not only have built an awesome product that is successful, but also built a step by step idiots guide and roadmap to doing the same.
People don't seem to have done this before as far as I can tell (or maybe people have tried and failed and so we never heard about it 😱).
There are plenty of guides on how to build a business, there are loads of guides on how to manage your time, there are loads of guides on marketing and branding.
But they are always treated as separate entities and to me that is just not helpful.
There is no way you can grow a mega business and not have your personal life sorted, know how to market (or find someone good at it) etc. They are all things that are heavily connected.
And here is the thing, many people sacrifice their personal life for a business. I know, I have done it before and it sucks.
So while I am not going to pretend I am not going to work more hours than most people, there will also be balance there and I will be sharing how to make time for friends and family without going off track.
Sure thing, I am glad you asked!
So I have split the next 1000 days into 5 sections, think of them as sprints!
The ultimate goal of these thousand days is to build a company from zero to £1million turnover with a small budget and while having to support myself and my family.
The first section is "optimising", where I will be sharing little bits of software I build and systems I have developed to help manage my personal life, personal goals and time.
The second section is "ramp up" where I will be building some mini applications that are related to the CMS. These will be built in such a way that they can be sold as stand alone products but later integrate them into the main product.
The third section is "launch" in which I will be combining some of the products I have built into an Minimal Viable Product (MVP) for the CMS (nearly there if you are hanging on to see what will make the CMS so special).
The fourth section is "get funding" where I will share the journey of taking a MVP with a (hopefully) reasonable userbase and a decent social media following out for investment and what the pitching process is like.
And the final 5th section is "grow fast" where I will hopefully have secured funding and how to invest that money for growth (without being one of those silicon valley companies that think that loss making in exchange for users with no monetisation plan is in any way a good idea, profitable from day 1 is the concept here!)
Hopefully that sounds interesting, but there is even more to this experiment!
Oh you bet, I told you it was ambitious!
Firstly I am going to be sharing my progress with you and that takes time, so it has to be worth it for me as well as you!
You can think of it like a public diary (with some filtering of course) so you can see what is working and how often I fail and the mistakes I make! (There will be plenty of them I assure you!)
Wherever appropriate I will by writing guides on how I did things in the hope that they are useful.
Hopefully you will get value from my wins and loses and I will get value as people will become interested in the journey I am taking (and if I do everything correctly build a decent following for Inclusivity Hub (InHu)).
Secondly I am going to slowly reveal how each part of the puzzle leads to the next as some decisions may look strange out of context.
- Why would I spend the time building XXX when I could just use service YYY, what does it lead to and what are the benefits?
- How does the personal life bit coincide with the business bit.
- How can you write a load of content and it help grow the business following pre and post launch while being entertaining and not (overly) self promoting all the time?
Stuff like that.
Honestly there is just too much to share in one go, but trust me I have planned a path through all this that means that no effort is wasted and everything has more than one purpose!
And that (in my opinion) is the key to 10x performance. As often as possible make sure that what you are doing contributes towards two goals and repurpose things as often as possible.
Live by the rule "We have limited time, use it wisely and efficiently."
Exactly, and you are too kind for saying so!
I know it isn't 100% clear as it is a big and complex beast with a lot of moving parts and I am trying to condense 8 weeks worth of planning into a single post.
So let me summarise what you will get out of following me on this journey.
- A look into my mind and how I approach things - my mind is a scary place though, so you have been warned.
- A set of rules and systems to help you optimise your own life, pick and choose the bits that work for you or follow every single one of them, it is up to you!
- Constant feedback on what works and what doesn't from someone who is "new" to a lot of things. (You would be surprised at the breadth of knowledge I have on some topics compared to how little of that knowledge I implement in my daily life! 🤣 Applying principles rather than just learning them is an entirely different kettle of fish!)
- A journey that will either end in success, "meh" results, or complete failure! No matter what it should be something you can learn from!
- Probably a load of free tools as I prototype the proof of concepts for things.
- A journey of building a business from scratch through to launch that is designed to scale, explained warts and all!
- Launching and growing a game changing CMS (yes, I am finally going to explain the end product!) and the struggles and hard spots on getting traction!
If this is what you came here for then sorry if you had to read all that.
I can imagine you are wondering why on Earth someone would build another CMS in such a crowded market, with so many big players with mega budgets to try and compete against!
Well let me tell you!
The first thing is that the whole thing will be built "Accessibility First" rather than trying to make something accessible after the fact.
This will be the main feature / selling point as few CMS systems are built this way (can you name one?).
This means that the editor will be built so that it is usable with Screen Readers, Magnification Software, alternative input devices etc.
It will also have options to change colours, fonts, layouts and more to meet the needs of an individual.
A truly accessible CMS would be a game changer in a world that is moving towards inclusivity and the next few years are the ideal time to strike!
The second thing is that it will be built "Accessibility First".
Wait, didn't I already say that?
No this time I mean that all of the code it produces will enforce accessibility best practices and principles.
Using a component based drag and drop system and with some clever workflows and prompts this CMS will not only be accessible for those who use it for editing but it will also tackle the scourge of accessibility...content writers who break any accessibility work you do within weeks or even days!
This should help make sure that the front end stays accessible without the need for an accessibility expert correcting things every few months!
The overall concept of this part is really simple, help businesses be part of the 2.6% of websites that don't have detectable accessibility errors!
But achieve this without adding any extra effort on their part, allowing them to increase the number of people they can reach and reduce the chance of excluding people, bad press and litigation under accessibility laws.
The other thing that is important is speed and web vitals.
There are hundreds of tricks I have up my sleeve for this one but they key is in reducing flexibility.
Yeah you heard me, I want to make a system that reduces the options people have as this will ultimately help keep their sites both on brand and highly performant.
Most CMS / site builders try to be all things to all people and therefore never work perfectly for anyone!
I would rather target this system at a particular set of companies who will benefit from rigidity and speed over the ability to move a button 5px to the left!
By utilising pre-built components that are customisable in style (via global styling decisions with certain contrast restrictions where it matters etc,) but carefully designed from a HTML / JS interactions perspective we can ensure they are accessible and fast.
Couple that with a concept I call "Self Optimising Websites (SOW)" (a system where the browsers sends back information about the critical CSS on a page, image dimensions at certain screen widths etc. and optimises the site and "learns" how to make itself faster) and this CMS is going to promise something nobody else can - 95+ on Page Speed Insights for every site.
Honestly the whole SOW system is something that really excites me, and no it isn't machine learning it is pure algorithms and careful structuring. But the concept could be a game changer in and of itself.
The third pillar of this CMS is the way the content creation is handled.
Every CMS I have seen is clunky and doesn't offer any well thought out and optimised processes for creating high quality content.
By providing tools for research, checklists, templates, wizards and more, directly within a predefined workflow, the system can make it easy for content creators to produce content that is higher quality and in less time.
Couple it with a system that will assess the writing and document structure for things like reading age, skipped headings etc. and it should make even an average writer look great! Well that is what I hope as I need something to elevate my writing!
Combine all of that with a carefully crafted content creation calendar and checklists for promoting content after publication and you can see why this would be exciting.
Because you have stuck with me this long here are a few more features that will be part of the system that I haven't seen before!
- future article markers - it is annoying when you are writing an article and know that an article you have planned would link nicely within the current article. The system allows for markers that remind you to fill in these links when the future article is released!
- research integration - having all the research for an article in one place without having to jump between sites is super handy! I even have a plugin planned that makes the process of gathering research super simple!
- code snippets creator - one for my fellow Devs! This snippet creator will have social sharing built in! It will link back to the snippet on the site automatically to fix the accessibility problems of "code in an image" that we are forced to use, and to drive traffic back to the site at the same time.
You know what, I will stop there (I was going to list a load of other features but I think I have given you a taste), you will have to follow me to find out more!
Yeah the last thing is my content.
I am about to ramp it up ready for the new year.
My content is going to be a mix of updates on implementing systems and what works, revealing new toys for you to play with and mega series! (Oh and don't worry, there will still be some angry rants scattered throughout but probably not as often!)
Oh wait, I didn't mention mega series yet did I? Let's fix that!
To help promote the CMS I have crafted and planned some series that run along side it beautifully and should hopefully provide some value back to the community (while also helping me develop the things I need for my product!).
So the series I have planned are:
Over 80 in depth posts on 80+ different components that are carefully crafted from the ground up to be as close to perfection as possible.
They will include things like Right to Left compatibility and internationalisation, accessibility considerations, fall backs for older browsers, flexible styling options following a global settings pattern and they will be light-weight to meet performance targets.
The aim is to build a library of components that will form the front end and back end part of the CMS that are accessible, fast and provide a great User Experience
More and more people are turning their back on Google Analytics and I have some pretty interesting ideas on combining analytics with the Self Optimising Websites system.
I wouldn't tackle this if there weren't some other benefits to the company so you will have to follow me to find out why I would include this in the plan!
This is a short series with only 6 articles planned.
- The ultimate guide to forms on the web
- The ultimate guide to images on the web
- The ultimate guide to website speed
- The ultimate guide to HTML
- The ultimate guide to WCAG
- The ultimate guide to ATAG
Now these aren't your average articles.
For example: I am currently writing the "ultimate guide to forms on the web". I have over 100 different sections in it.
Currently I have only written the first 2 of those sections and the word count is over 3500 words.
Yes these really are going to be mega reference pieces and anchors around which all other content is created.
To illustrate the idea behind this "dual purpose" thing I am implementing, the guides are to be used as internal reference when designing the CMS, for marketing and for content generation for other marketing channels (eBooks, infographics, twitter threads etc.).
They also serve a final purpose...as test beds for ideas on content creation workflows and for highlighting tools I need to build!
See, 10x thought process on everything!
Are you still with me after all that?
Do you have any idea what I am on about?
Who knows, but one thing I do know is this is going to be spectacular (either a spectacular success or a spectacular fail! 🤣)
If you found anything interesting and have any questions then the floor is yours, drop me a comment or DM me on Twitter if you prefer, I would appreciate the support if nothing else!
999 days remaining!
Goals and tracking:
- £0 monthly revenue / £1million annualised target
- 1 post released so far
I can't wait to start adding more stats and targets to that list for you to follow along!
The next article in this series will be on systemising my personal life and cover things like eating healthily, exercising and scheduling and how to minimise the time spent vs results!
Anyway, enough of my ramblings, see you all back here on the 1st September 2024 when I can see how much of my plan has come together and whether I hit the £1million mark! Until then I will see you in my next article (I hope).