how I apply the 80-20 principle

How I apply the 80/20 principle [PMP #284]

 You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 principle before. If you haven’t, you’ve probably heard the general concept. The 80/20 principle (officially known as the Pareto Principle) says that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.

The general idea is that 80% of outcomes come from just 20% of inputs; by identifying the correct 20% and optimising these few inputs, we can generate the greatest impact on outcomes. We often talk about the 80/20 rule within the productivity space because this principle is all about getting the biggest bang for your buck (whatever that might be). It's also about identifying the 80% of inputs that are only generating 20% of your results. This is time you are essentially wasting which you should reallocate towards more worthwhile pursuits.

Keep in mind that the actual percentages aren’t that important. Depending on how you’re applying this principle, it may be 90/10 or 70/30. The goal is to identify the few inputs that have the greatest impact on your desired results.

Here are some of the ways I’ve applied the 80/20 principle to my business.

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I generate revenue in a number of ways: consulting services, commissions, software sales, digital product sales (my courses), sponsorship and YouTube ad revenue. Most of my income (about 90%) comes from the first two: consulting services and commission. This is what I focus most on.

Rather than putting equal time and energy into my other revenue streams, I’ve doubled down on what’s working well in order to grow my overall revenue the most. It’s not that I don’t think my other revenue streams aren’t important or that there’s no opportunity for growth. But my time is limited so I’d rather allocate it to where I can generate the best return.

For example, if I decided to reallocate my time and put all the effort I was putting into consulting sales into YouTube revenue growth instead, I’d likely take a big hit on the consulting revenue in exchange for a minor uptick in YouTube ad revenue.


In the grand scheme of things, my marketing is very narrow but it’s highly focussed. I don't do anything on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or LinkedIn. Again, it’s not that I couldn’t generate leads via these platforms; I’d rather focus on one channel and do the very best I can. For me, that’s YouTube.

I see a lot of businesses putting time and energy into marketing themselves across every platform they can. Sort of a shotgun approach to marketing; throw as much as you can at the wall and see what sticks.

YouTube is where my target customers go to get information about tools like Asana and Pipedrive. So that’s where I want to be. This is a narrower but more focused approach to marketing that I find gets me the best results.

I also pay for Google Search ads, but I only bid on very specific keywords in order to allocate my budget towards very particular search queries. I could probably get more leads by running Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube ads. But I prefer to keep the spending narrow and focused in order to get the best ROI.

Allocating my time

As I’ve grown my team, I’m thinking more and more about how I should be spending my time and what I should be delegating to my team. My goal is to spend as much time as I can on the things that only I can do. Right now, that’s sales and marketing.

My awesome team are more than capable of meeting with clients and delivering support. As a personal brand, I’m currently the face of the business which is why I do all of the sales calls and oversee the work (I’m hoping to change this in the future). I also do all of the marketing e.g. making YouTube videos.

The way I see it, if I do an hour support call with a client which one of my team could have done, that’s potentially 2 sales calls I could have completed. This wouldn’t be the best division of labour based on the overall strengths of the team. This is one of the reasons I’m thinking of rebranding in the near future.

How are you applying the 80/20 principle to your work? Questions, comments, or feedback, let me know below!