This entry was written as a Guest post. The author’s views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of ILFR.
Are you putting your all into your online store and not getting the results that you deserve? Well…you might just be focusing on things that don’t matter. Instead of working harder, let’s go through the principles of the 80/20 rule and tell you ways how you can work smarter and get better results.
The 80/20 rule, often called the Pareto Principle, is a concept that states that 80% of your business outcomes are caused by just 20% of your efforts. Put simply, it means that most of the results that you see as an online store owner can be attributed to a small number of factors. Following this rule, you can identify what factors are most influential when it comes to your business success and focus on them for maximum efficiency.
How the 80/20 rule can help you succeed?
If the 80/20 rule sounds simple, that’s because it is! The ratio may not always be exact; so think of the rule as a reminder that only a small part of what you do actually produces real results. Thus, focusing more of your efforts on the 20% of your actions that affect your business most can increase your productivity while freeing up time in your busy schedule.
Here’s how you can do it:
1) Start with a review
Review your business and keep track of just the efforts that worked. Did your efforts drive sales? Did they drive customers to your store, giving certain products more views? Did they improve your search rankings? You’ll start to notice that a large part of your efforts (the 80%) don’t actually drive results in the same way that the remaining 20% does.
2) List your activities
Write a list of all the activities that you do in a typical day. This can include updating your website, putting up new products or taking photographs of your newest items, social media upkeep, and even running to the post office to post products to your customers. Of all the things on this list, which items are truly moving your business forward? These are the items that really need your attention.
3) Prioritise the 20%, don’t stress about the 80%
While it may seem like everything is a pressing issue, especially if you are running your online shop by yourself, the 80/20 rule can help you de-stress without making your business less efficient. Does something need to be bumped off the schedule today? That’s hardly out of character for an ecommerce entrepreneur; but people who don’t follow the Pareto Principle can let the stress of everything they can’t do, overwhelm the successes of everything that does get done.
Following the Pareto Principle means you can easily see what can and cannot be put off until later. When the day starts to get hectic, remind yourself of the 80/20 rule and the 20% that you need to focus on. If something needs to be put off until the next day, make sure it’s not part of that 20%, and you’ll be able to move forward knowing it’s not the end of the world.
4) Approach the 80/20 rule and ‘Superstar Management’ realistically
The 80/20 rule has given rise to a business theory called ‘Superstar Management.’ Basically, since 20% of your efforts produce 80% of the results, Superstar Management calls for you to just focus on the 20%, or your ‘superstar’ activities. While you should always use the 80/20 rule to help focus your efforts and help you prioritise what you can get done in a day, it is possible to buy into the theory too much!
Don’t completely drop the things on your list that aren’t driving sales — instead, consider why they’re not as effective as they should be, and implement changes. For example, are your social media campaigns failing to drive customers to your online boutique? Just because social media isn’t your ‘superstar’ activity doesn’t mean it’s not important!
5) Focus on one revenue-generating activity each day
Now that you know exactly what moves your business forward and remind yourself to focus on those things every day, you’ll need to pick at least one thing that actually generates revenue. We all love to create and design more than we like to market to potential customers, but if you start your own online store you’ll need to put in a concerted effort to ensure that you start a steady cash flow. These revenue-generating activities can include:
- Sales calls or emails
- Email marketing, especially to existing clients, as often a small part of your overall customer base (the 20%) makes up a large part of your overall revenue (the 80%)
- PR activities, such as contacting the journalists and bloggers who are influencers in your industry
- Building strategic partnerships that will benefit you both. For example, if you sell exclusively accessories, you can find an apparel line that fits your brand and help each other cross-promote. Create Pinterest outfit boards that showcase the best way accessorise their apparel with your jewellery to make create stunning looks, or even just retweet each other’s promotions. Building an empire is about building connections!
- Reviewing your pricing strategy to ensure that you’re attracting customers while also being paid what you’re worth
- Developing your collection, because it’s not all about marketing! It’s also about having great products that people want to buy
- Attending an industry event to expand your business contacts and introduce your brand to influencers
The more you take on revenue-generating tasks, even the ones you aren’t so keen on, the easier it will become. Who knows — you might even secretly be a PR/marketing whiz, and start to enjoy it. At SupaDupa, we follow the 80/20 principle and constantly stop, reassess and make plans to move towards our next activities. It works for us!
Digital marketer and content strategist, Federica Schragger is part of SupaDupa, the Ecommerce platform for independent fashion brands & creative entrepreneurs. @Supadupametoo | Linkedin.