We’ve most likely all heard of the Pareto principle. The law of 80-20. Also known as the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity. It means that very few things are responsible for most of what we see out there. Of course, we see this in business every day. There are the top performers in any business who seem to attract all the success, and then there’s everyone else. Why are some of us highly effective while others of us struggle to get even small results? There are answers.
Do What Works
The 80-20 rule is not just an observation of how the world works, it’s also a business strategy. It’s a strategy very few of us follow. If I had to guess, I’d guess that 20% of business owners follow it, and they’re the ones who get 80% of the results. Oddly enough, following the 80-20 rule puts you into it’s favor. Test it and see how it works for you.
To get the results of a high achiever you must do what works. You must do what gets results. This seems logical enough, right? Yet when you look closely, so few of us follow this basic business principle. We do some things that work, and we also do a lot of other things that don’t work. Have you ever had a day where you spent running around like a crazy person, and at the end of the day you’re exhausted, yet you didn’t accomplish hardly anything? That’s what I’m talking about! That’s not effective. That’s what it feels like when you spend time on the 80% of crap that only gets 20% of the results. We’ve all done it.
I see businesses all the time that have a lot going for them, but they’re so bogged down in minutia that they can barely function. It they simply stripped themselves free of all the junk that’s wasting their time and did more of what worked, they would explode. As we all know, working hard is not the key. We’re in agreement on that, right? It’s about getting results. Sometimes you need to push yourself, and there is value in that, but at the end of the day, the world doesn’t care if you’re exhausted or not…it only wants to know if you’ve made a difference. That’s all that matters.
A Few Examples of 80% Time Wasting in Action
- Are you spending time working with clients that beat the crap out of you every day?
- Are you doing more jobs for customers who haven’t paid you for the first job?
- Are you spending time on the phone working old leads that never call you back?
- Are you still spending $1500 a month on that print ad? How many calls is it bringing in? Have you checked?
- Are you allowing yourself to be interrupted with calls throughout the day to deal with mundane stuff that doesn’t grow your business?
- Are you checking your email 20 times a day?
- Do your agents, salespeople, employees, etc have to go through you for every single little thing? Do you have to approve, for example, an order for more post-it notes before it can be taken care of?
The preceding are all examples of 80% stuff…the stuff that only gets a small result, if any. Yet it requires the bulk of our time. What would happen (I know it’s a radical idea!) if you just stopped doing it? What would happen if you empowered your people to make decisions on their own (maybe if you can’t trust em to order post-it notes, they shouldn’t be working for you)? What would happen if you just spent your time focusing on building and streamlining your business? What if you took all those old leads that never call you, and you just put them on a responder campaign?
Would the world implode? Not likely. In fact, those horrible clients that beat you up would probably stop working with you. How nice would THAT be? I bet the post-its would get ordered just fine, don’t you think?
Can you imagine how much time could be freed up? Can you imagine how many resources could be freed up…if you only freed them up? What are you doing now that’s not getting results?
A Proposed Solution
I propose simply stopping the stuff in your business that you’ve been grinding away at, that’s not producing a discernible, meaningful result. Instead, focus on the 20% that’s getting the results. Do more of THAT, and nothing else. It’s easy to think more sales, more systems, more ads, more, more, more is always the answer. But the fact is that no matter how many people you hire, if they’re working on stuff that sucks, you’re wasting your money. More isn’t always better. Sometimes simply focusing on the 20% will let you see where your business is REALLY at. Maybe you’ll see you actually have enough time to enjoy yourself a bit…or start another business with all the time you save. What do you think?