Priscila Martinez is a brand strategy specialist who started her own communications firm, The Brand Agency in 2015. She specializes in navigating lifestyle and entertainment clients through the ever changing media landscape. She currently services brands like Samsung Home Appliances, Amazon Prime Video, ELLE Magazine, K-Swiss, LVMH and L’Oreal’s NYX Cosmetics.
Starting out a career is treacherous territory. There are many windy roads to hit before you get set on a path that will eventually lead you to fulfillment. Part of that journey involves learning what to expend your energy on. I don’t mean energy in a “I love to meditate and get rid of negative energy” way. I mean the careful calculation that a budding entrepreneur has to make before they decide what clients to go after, what employees to hire and how to expand their business.
The best career advice I ever received when tackling these questions was to apply the 80/20 rule. This heuristic states that 80% of your positive outcomes will be caused by only 20% of your efforts. The equation can also be read backwards, 80% of your problems are bound to be caused by 20% of your employees/clients/insert any other important category here. Real world examples of how this principal manifests itself includes realizing that 20% of your clients account for 80% of your sales. In terms of employees, this principal manifests itself when a business owner realizes that 20% of the employee force generates 80% of the sales.
As an up-and-coming professional, it is important to put systematic checks in place that will allow you to discern who is producing the 80% and who is only producing headaches. Be it an employee or client, time and energy can be sucked away from your precious 20% that is yielding 80% of your business. Conducting a formal review can help keep your focus where it needs to be. In order to conduct said review, I recommend sitting down with the decisionmakers in our organization once per quarter and performing back-of-the-napkin math on your clients and employees. This exercise doesn’t need precise math to be beneficial.
Once the 80-20 analysis is conducted, you have to take concise steps to cut out the fat in your organization. Be it firing clients or putting employees on alert. The hardest part is executing change based on your findings. I myself have kept employees on the team for way too long or continued relationships with clients that I knew were ultimately hurting our bottom line. When deciding how to approach breaking off a relationship, my best advice is to treat it like a band-aid. Be fair, but concise, and don’t make the departure longer than what it has to be.
Once you realize where your bread is buttered, continue growing those relationships and try to expand your business with them. Once you get in the habit of noticing your 80/20s, things will come more naturally and your business will prosper as a direct result of this practice.
Words by Priscila Martinez.
Picture by Stefan Stfancik via Unsplash