The 5 Percent Solution

5 percent solution

The 5% solution is a little productivity technique I use to get a lot of high-value work done and to move my business forward.

I used it recently when I was out in Los Angeles filming a video for my business. On the drive home I got a ticket for not having my front license plate on my new car. At this point, I had two choices.

First, I could have driven to the police department and got that ticket written off but that would take up my valuable time that I use to create business, to write copy, to sell, and to network with my joint venture business partners. My other choice was to have my assistant take my car and have them get the ticket taken care of. I chose the second option because that gave me more time to get things done as part of my 5%.

The 5% solution is a little productivity technique I use to get a lot of high-value work done and to move my business forward.

Here’s how to implement it into your life.

First, identify the activities that must get done in your business.

For example, if you run a website business, your list might look like this.

  1. Get traffic
  2. Write sales copy
  3. Customer service
  4. Contact affiliates and joint venture partners
  5. Payroll and affiliate payouts
  6. Update membership site
  7. Filming and editing video for site and/or Youtube
  8. Update website
  9. Write blog posts
  10. Administrative tasks

Those are just some of the tasks you’ll need to take care of. Make sure to list out everything you can think of. If your business is a brick-and-mortar shop, or if you’re an employee or salesperson, your list will be different, but still likely as long. Don’t leave anything out.

Second, make a list of all of the activities that actually make you money.

You’ll be left with writing sales copy (selling) and contacting affiliates and JV partners.

Those activities, the ones that make you money and can only be done by you, are what I call your 5%. These are what you’ll build your schedule around. Everything else on the list goes into the 95% category and must be delegated as quickly as possible to someone else so that you can spend almost all of your time on the money-makers.

Your 5% should comprise the sales portion of the business while the 95% consists of the support portion of your business. The 5% are critical in moving your business forward.

But here is where most entrepreneurs and top employees mess up. Instead of focusing exclusively on their 5%, too many business owners and sales people get caught up in the minutiae of the 95% and go from putting out one fire to another all day long, never having a chance to spend time working on their 5% to move the business forward.

But remember my 5% Rule:

“Only 5% of the activities each day can drive your business forward and those are the big levers you must spend your time on. The other 95% of the things still have to get done but they shouldn’t get done by you.”

For example, update your website should be done by someone else. If you film a sales video, you should outsource the editing and uploading of the video to someone else who is competent in that area of technology. You shouldn’t be spending your valuable time teaching yourself to edit video. Take your big list of activities and condense that down from the trivial many to the critical few activities you should be spending your time on if you want to grow your business. Support tasks should be delegated so you can spend your time on selling.

When you take your to-do list from ten or twenty activities down to just one you are able to spend more time working on the big moneymaking tasks that will grow your business.

Finally, when you do this, be prepared to say “No” more often in order to protect your time to be spent on the most valuable activities in your business. The running joke around my office is that when a business partner, family member or friend says, “Hey Bedros, can you do this for me?”, my typical answer is, “Sorry, not part of my 5%. I don’t do that, find a way to outsource it.” And you know what, the job still gets done – and more importantly, I still have my time to work on the critical sales tasks of the business.

Get started on this task today. Take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle of it, and write your 5% crucial activities on one side and the 95% of activities you can delegate on the other. Once you’ve done that, start putting your action plan in place to getting rid of the tasks that someone else can do so you can focus on growing your business and making more money.

  • Great articles and quite timely…thank you!
    My biggest challenge at the moment is that I have a brick and mortar business that I run alone and I’m in the process of developing an online business that’s in a non-related field (my passion)…all on a very tight budget, everyday there is a pile of 95% stuff with no one to delegate to.
    Suggestions?
    Wendy

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Start small. Find a teenager willing to work for minimum wage.

      They are out there. Look on craigslist.

      Craig

  • You make some excellent points about picking the 5% we need to do to grow our business. I know I have times I drift during the day & get caught up in activities which are not moving me forward.

    The 5% is fine tuning the 80/20 principle even more. Really like this idea. Thanks

  • matt

    How do you apply this 5% principal to a student to help prioritize

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Hi Matt, you simply do the exercise. Have you started there?

      Craig

  • Useful tips on how to prioritize daily activities. For me blogging is my unique ability. There needs to be some balance between learning and doing.