How One Woman Built an Online Business within 55 Hours

*This post was originally featured here on medium.com

Recently, we held a Focus 55 in Rio de Janeiro.  Two of our guests were a digital nomad powerhouse couple Viola Leknehcs and her partner in crime Steffen Raebricht.  During the Focus 55 we set goals to hack away at in a 55-hour period.  This is a time to focus one or two BIG goals and knock them out as quickly and effectively as possible.  Viola had set a goal to start a completely new business that generated sales in 55 hours…..and she did it! One of the reasons I wanted to feature her is because her thought process during this time was incredible. She is from Germany and getting behind the mind of an analytical German is mind-blowing when it comes to setting a systematic goal system that is effective, practical and easy.  I learned a lot from her, and I hope you do too…..

This….is Viola’s story!


Enter Viola Leknehcs

The true story on how I set up a business that generated money in less than 3 days.

This article is an unconventional approach on how to build a business and get things done in rapid time. I will talk about goals, structuring tasks, motivation and an amazing 2.5 days.

Only recently I built a business. My shop is LITERATURE AND SHIRTS and I offer just that: Your favorite authors featured on the latest style of shirts. I believe fashion and good books are a perfect fit.

Two weeks after launch the business has paid for the investment. I first gathered initial sales and statistics on pricing and the buying behavior of my target audience. I am now adjusting my strategy according to the statistics and focus on generating more sales.

I built this business in 55 hours flat…..and this is how I did it.

A Second Thought on Goals

I was taught goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound). What I suggest doing is focusing on two of those, measurable and timebound. How do I know if I have reached my goal? What steps have to be done, which features have to be included, how many sales have to happen?

And at what point in time will I be finished with reaching these results?

If I can’t answer those questions, I will have a hard time reaching my goal. Not because the time management coaches tell me to be SMART, but because I will never be sure wether or not I am successful. I define what reaching a goal and being successful means to me. That’s the only way I will know when it is time to celebrate.

Structuring Tasks: What to do in the morning?

  1. The best way for me to categorize the underlying tasks is to categorize them in a coordinate system. Like in the Eisenhower Principle I use two axes. Mine are effort and output. When working I will focus on those tasks who will give me the biggest output with the least effort. It is more of a 80/20 mentality. Or: Better done than perfect.
  2. When I get up in the morning I ask myself: What is the one task today that will push my business forward? A small but important step. And I start with this task. No email routine, no social media, no beauty fix-ups on the website. The first task is the one with a lot of output for my metrics.
  3. Personally I write down the taks on a clean sheet of paper as nicely as possible. You could use enumeration, headlines and colors. For me this is not the time to hurry but to take 10 minutes and create something beautiful.
  4. Cleaning up my desk is crucial. For me a laptop, a notebook, one pen and a bottle of water will do.

Rethinking Motivation

Ahhhh….motivation…. Aren’t we all looking for motivation? Passion? That magic spark?

Truth to be told: I gave up on motivation.

I am not going to be motivated when I start working. If I wait for motivation I will never start. For years I waited for motivation to kick in before starting projects. Not doing this, and just getting started was the biggest revelation for me!

Hate to break it to you — but discipline is what it is all about.

I work to be motivated… afterwards!

Motivation is a result of my work, not the starting point.

I get up at 8am and really want to go back to sleep (I hate mornings.) but I force myself to look on the list and get started on one of the tasks. Checking Facebook is probably not on my list, so I don’t check it.

Working for me is somewhere in between two extremes. Either I am very grumpy and easily frustrated or I will get in the flow quite soon. It is the result (which in my case means crossing of a task from the list) that will give me a rush of happiness and motivation.

That’s it. That is my secret. It is not sexy. I started getting things done because I love how I feel when they are done. I can’t stress this enough:Motivation is my reward for work.

Motivation does not get me up in the morning. It’s discipline.

Applying Unconventional Time Management at the Focus 55

So when Chris Reynolds, the founder of THE ENTREPRENEUR HOUSE, invited me for a 55 hour intense goal setting and work session, I was up for it. Think of an online entrepreneur hack-a-thon, where you work at a big and important goal in a very short amount of time. Two and a half days of working with no distractions whatsoever. A group of people holding each other accountable and helping one another out with their goals.

My goal was to build the minimum viable product for a clothing online shop. My key metric to define the success of the shop is sales. My goal for the 55 hours sprint was to get from zero to one sale.

Thus, LITERATURE AND SHIRTS was born in February 2016 at the Focus 55 in Rio de Janeiro. The shop combines smart books and unique fashion. I believe a persons favorite authors suit their clothing style quite well. You might be a huge fan or just genuinely interested in books and literature.

To get the best result with the least effort I decided to test my brand with a t-shirt. Everyone has t-shirts, most people have t-shirts with prints. We know this product is selling. The question is wether people will like my style. As said: My key metrics is sales. Not unique visitors, comments, Facebook likes or Instagram followers.

I chose to create the store on WordPress and used a print-on-demand supplier for fulfillment. The supplier is quite expensive but they will take the orders, print them, and ship them for me. (They ship worldwide.) No stocks, no inventory, no warehouse. No initial costs. Of cause on the long run I will set all those structures in place with good components. For now I used the print-on-demand supplier and decided for the best materials and the nicest printing technique because I believe quality and customer service succeed against a hit-and-run, low quality, one-time-only sales mentality.

The first day, I hired a designer online to create the designs for the t-shirts. He is from Indonesia and one design costs me $15.00 USD. A good price instead of my crying over Photoshop for hours.

I spent the rest of the day building the shop and the blog. The Focus 55 has daily check-in’s at an assigned location where we all meet to track our progress and where we can help one another out. At the first check-in, after 12 hours, the shop was up and running, cart, check-out and everything.

The second day, I wrote three blog posts and researched over 500 German blogs on books and emailed 60 of them to ask if they wanted to be featured in the launch of my blog. Today, I have featured six of those book bloggers in guest posts about their favorite writer.

The third and final day, after 55 hours and very little sleep I presented my results:

  • $94.00 USD spent
  • The shop is up and running
  • 2 designs available
  • Launch with friends and family
  • Cold email to 60 German book bloggers
  • 11 fans on Facebook on the first day
  • 21 unique visitors on the first day
  • 1 comment on the blog
  • 1 Sale
  • Revenue: $7.00 USD

What I Learned From All This

The Focus 55 helped me with what I need most: Discipline.

It structured my day due to the daily check-in’s. It pushed me. It challenged me. I love having meetings with people that talk about progress. I am proud to present my results. This gets me going even at 3:00am in the morning. That’s why I am deeply thankful for everyone who participated in the Focus 55.

Dear Reader,

I recommend everyone to look at the effort and output of all of your tasks. Go for the important ones! The important ones are the ones that have a deep impact on your business.

And whilst you do this: Find a group of friends and colleagues, do a Focus 55 and let the magic happen.

What you will find is…

  • a great group experience
  • extreme productivity

And most important of all….

Motivation.


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