After I completed my first full day as an entrepreneur, I felt overwhelmed--and voices and warnings from various folks echoed in my head: "Are you sure you can do this without a team and support? You know you're not the most organized person. Make sure you don't burn any bridges in case you change your mind."

I'll admit that my daily to-do list was several times longer and far broader topically than it ever was as a senior partner in a consulting firm.

Many people have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. It essentially states that 20 percent of your effort results in 80 percent of your outcomes.

Fewer realize how pervasive the 80/20 rule works across so many broad aspects of your work and life. Specifically, there are four broad areas in your work and life you can apply the 80/20 rule to managing your:

  1. Customers.
  2. Resource allocation.
  3. Career.
  4. Body and soul.

Here's how it breaks down across those four categories:


The book I recently authored, Superconsumers, highlights that in any category and in any country, that about ten percent of consumers drive anywhere from 30-70 percent of category sales, even higher category profit and 99 percent of the insights to grow the category.

The 80/20 rule also works at managing local geographies. Some of your local areas--be it countries from a global perspective or local neighborhoods and zipcodes--are far more productive and profitable than others. One ice cream company found that 50 percent of its top selling flavor was sold in a mere 3,000 out of 35,000 grocery stores.

Resource allocation

The 80/20 rule can help you prune your resource allocation and help you preserve your sanity. Nearly every business has "power SKUs" or services that generate most of the value, and it can be time to prune your offering. Aside from that, it can be to prune your where you allocate your time and effort.


As an entrepreneur, the tyranny of the urgent can cause you to forget to invest in your career and professional development. The 80/20 rule can help you invest in your career and your professional development.

Superbosses, a book by Sydney Finkelstein, found that a few amazing bosses were responsible for the lion share of leadership development. At one point 62 percent of NFL head coaches came from one coach, Bill Walsh.

Even as an entrepreneur, it's key to stay in touch with the very best bosses and mentors you have and continue to invest in those relationships. Send them handwritten notes and cards and let them know how thankful you are for them.

Body and soul

Finally, the 80/20 rule is a great way to ensure you invest in your body and soul. There are little things specific to you as an individual that recharge your batteries disproportionately more than the time it takes to do.

For me, it's swimming. As someone who was born and raised in Hawaii and is often homesick, I make it a point to stay in hotels when I travel that have a nice pool. Even if I swim just for a little bit, it restores my sanity and refreshes my soul.

Writing is also a great restorative thing for me. In fact, writing this article helped me feel better about my first day as an entrepreneur. Even though I only got to two thirds of my to do list, I feel much better than I thought.

About a third of what I did today was write, which restored my soul. A third of what I did was customer facing, which made me feel productive. And the final third was administravia, which was draining.

But two spoonfuls of sugar did make the medicine go down.