One of the most important and transformational business – and life – principles is the 80/20 principle. Originally discovered by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, it’s also referred to as the Pareto principle.
Not everything in the world was created equal.
Pareto noticed, over 100 years ago, that 20 percent of the Italian population owned 80 percent of the wealth. This disparity was applied to modern times via the book 80/20 by Richard Koch and subsequently The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.
In its purist form, the principle states the following: not everything in the world was created equal. 20 percent of something often leads to 80 percent of something else. And therefore, if you can stop and examine your life, you’ll find key areas of focus that will lead to a disproportionate result.
This can be used to your advantage by creating a life full of more things than you actually want in it. Here are some examples of how the 80/20 principle can be applied.
80% of your life satisfaction comes form 20% of your activities. There are certain things you do in life that give you a particularly large amount of satisfaction. Is it spending time with your kids? Is it volunteering? Whatever it is, can you do more of it?
80% of your problems come from 20% of sources. We’ll jump into this in more detail, but in broad terms, there are probably a few things out there that disproportionately annoy you. 20 percent (or less) of kids in a class cause 80% of the behavior problems. 20% of your errands are probably the most annoying to you – can you find someone else to do them?
20% of the things you do to maintain your relationships – with your spouse, with your kids – lead to 80% of your current results. Do you have any positive actions you do, like buying flowers or spending time with kids, that you could do more of? Are there any annoying habits you do that if fixed would make a huge impact?
20% of your clients lead to 80% of your profits. Tim Ferris drives this point home. If you look at your list of clients, you’ll see that a few of them are vastly superior in profit and the ease of working with them. Have you ever noticed how your best paying clients also seem the easiest to please? How can you find more clients like them? This concerted effort can vastly impact your bottom line.
20% of your clients cause 80% of your problems. Some clients are never satisfied. You hand them the world on a platter and they complain that you forgot the napkins. What would happen if you fired these clients? How much are they really contributing to your bottom line? Is it really worth the frustration they are causing?
20% of your personal activities within your business lead to 80% of the results. There are so many ways to get distracted, and so many insignificant tasks throughout the day, that if you really honed in on it, you’d probably find that it’s just 20% or less of what you do that really leads to results. What would happened if you dropped or delegated everything else, and just did that one thing that mattered, whether that was cold calls, defining strategy, or managing your people more effectively?
20% of your employees lead to 80% of your results. Speaking of management, every boss has noticed how certain staff members are vastly more effective than the rest. It’s like the entire company rests on their shoulders. What would happen if you let everyone else go? What would happen if you cloned your star employee? A great way to start is to ask them if they know anyone like themselves who you could hire – birds of a feather often flock together, effectiveness begets effectiveness.
20% of your marketing efforts will lead to 80% of your results. Some ads are disproportionately effective relative to others, and it’s often impossible to predict them in advance. So much of marketing is trying things out and seeing what works, and in the digital age, this is easier than ever to do.
Our Jewish Content Network advertising dashboard allows you to upload two sets of ads to one advertising campaign and instantly start seeing which design, headline, or link is getting you the best results. You’ll often find that over time, your best ad vastly surpasses its counterparts – all clearly convened in the stats page of the campaign.
This principle also applies to your choice of ad product – you might find that a homepage article gets you a vastly more impactful result than say, an Instagram ad. It’s all about trying things out, observing the results, and reacting accordingly.
We encourage you to examine what aspects of your life the 80/20 principle can be applied to, and remember, 20% of the changes you make can have 80% of the impact!
Chaim Chernoff is the Chief Marketing Officer at the Jewish Content Network. Always on the lookout for latest digital marketing trends, Chaim aims to help businesses expand their presence and grow their business in the digital world. Do you have marketing questions? Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org