Pareto's Principle and Start Ups: Know It All, Don't Do It All!

The Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule) "states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes." (Source). This can be applied to the productivity and related tasks an Entrepreneur goes about doing on a daily basis, especially when starting out with few or no people to delegate tasks to. Though it may be tempting to try and do everything yourself in order to cut down on costs and make sure the work is top-notch, you are taking on two huge negatives:

1. Sucking time away from the 20% of tasks that really need your attention and that play to your key strengths.

2. Creating mental clutter.

It would be useful to elaborate on this with an example from a company I founded, ivypoint Prep (offering undergrad college application essay editing services, Maryland Tutors, Virginia Tutors, DC Tutors, and Online Tutors).

As mentioned in a previous post regarding E-Marketing vs. E-Business, a key to success for any business operating today is mastering internet marketing - a large part of which entails Search Engine Optimization. For ivypoint's managers handling internet marketing, there are a large number of repetitive tasks that must be tended to regularly in order to stay relevant. These tasks are important enough for an Entrepreneur or Manager to consider doing on their own, but are they worth it? When looked at from the frame of Pareto's Principle, it is clear that they should be outsourced. It is worth the expense to clear your mind from the constant fog of distaste, dread, and boredom over doing such tasks (the mental clutter mentioned above) and the time suck they represent. However, this is no license to avoid being well-versed in what is being done for you.

It is often said that a Entrepreneur needs to be a jack-of-all-trades and a generalist: someone who can adequately accomplish much across many different domains at any one time (some SEO here, some Accounting there, and on and on). In reality, it is more appropriate for an Entrepreneur to be a educated jack-of-all-trades: educated on the reason behind and workings of everything that needs to be done, but able to effectively outsource and manage this work instead of taking away from the 20% of tasks that really deserve your attention. This way, the risk of getting conned, ripped off, or wasting money is managed and you are still free to do what your skills are suited for, be it strategic planning for your new consulting business or strategic baking for your new cupcakery.