Last Updated on April 9, 2021

Pareto Principle: The 80/20 Rule in business


When you study both natural and man-made phenomena, you’ll discover that there is unequal distribution. This inequality forms the precept of the 80 20 principles in business and other phases of life. Researching on this inequality, an Italian economist-Vilfredo Pareto, in 1906, put forth a principle. In his research, he discovered that 80 percent of the land in his country belongs to just 20 percent of the population. This formed the Pareto principle, otherwise called the 80 20 rule.

Through his analysis, Pareto found that this principle didn’t only apply to land ownership but to most economic activities.

His discovery shows that 80 percent of riches were controlled by just 20 percent of the country’s population.


His discoveries led to his obsession with the 80 20 rule, which today is seen as a dictum. This principle has become universally accepted that anyone can apply it to any situation.

What does the 80 20 rule say?

The 80 20 rule is an axiom that 80% of outputs result from 20% inputs for a given experience. This 80 20 rule is also referred to as the Pareto principle in business.

Going by the rule, you’ll get 80 percent of great achievements by using just 20 percent of the labor.

Where there’re ten items to do, the most valuable two will be more rewarding than combining the remaining eight.

From his analysis, Pareto Principle in business management has proved very rewarding. This means that it’s not every labor or work is effective in their production.

Also, it’s not every customer that a business has that’ll bring good profit to it. When you fully understand the 80 20 rule, it will help you to re-strategize your business approach.

You can prioritize the things and people that form the 20 percent that produces the 80 percent profit.

the graph with 80% and 20%

Through that, you may even increase your profit margins. Thus, the application of the Pareto principle in your business helps you in making good strategic planning and time management.

80 20 rule examples

Apart from land ownership, where Pareto discovered the 80 20 rule, this principle applies to almost every event and experience.

Therefore, some of the contexts like taxation, project and business management, IT, and other fields operate on the Pareto principle. Below are some of the examples where you’ll find the 80 20 rule:

80/20 rule in business and marketing

Business activities such as sales and marketing represent the common context for the explanation of the Pareto Principle.

There’s always the conviction that 80 percent of a business profit comes from 20 percent of the customers.

This principle paves the way for you to achieve more results in business with minimum effort. Other areas of a business applying this 80/20 rule include;

  • 80 percent of complaints are from 20 percent of customers
  • 80 percent of clients are from 20 percent of marketing
  • And 80 percent of sales are from 20 percent of sales agents
  • 80 percent of sales are from 20 percent of products and services

Using the 80/20 rule, businesses should focus on the 20 percent of activities that generate 80 percent of their outputs.

The initiating step towards increasing your business efficiency is to identify the components of your 20%.

You can do so with the help of Pareto Diagrams. Once you achieve that, you can strategically make decisions that will illuminate your 20% inputs to increase your 80% outputs.

80/20 rule in management of time

You can effectively structure your time management with the Pareto principle. Going by the fact the 80% of your productions are from 20% of your effort and time.

So, managing your time to impact your productivity becomes very easy to achieve. For instance, when you have 10 tasks with equal time consumption, completing 2 top-priority tasks can be more productive.

Your inability to complete all the tasks has no negative effect on your efficiency. This is because your 20% effort produced 80% outcomes.

Thus, the Pareto principle helps you to get maximum efficiency with limited time through time management.

80/20 rule in content marketing

The Pareto principle is also applicable to content marketing. According to the principle’s distribution, 80 percent of traffic is from 20 percent of posts.

From your analysis with this rule, you can identify your effective posts based on the percentage of traffic they generate.

Also, this principle will show you how to fully optimize the bottom 80% post to become your top 20%.

80/20 rule in performance management

The workforce of any organization is a crucial asset that can build its business. Also, in the rating of the performance of the staff, the use of the Pareto principle becomes a good evaluating tool.

It follows that 80 percent of profits are from 20 percent of employees’ effort.

This 20% of the employees are the driving in the business. When you identify them, you can keep them and strategic positions to ensure the continuity of your business.

The Pareto principle in Program management

The 80/20 rule can also apply to program management to principle in business. From research and study, 80% of all problems in most programs come 20% of projects.

Using the principle will help you to discover the problematic projects.

Then, you’ll be able to manage your business and be more productive once you stop investing in problematic programs.

Pareto strategy

According to the Pareto principle, you can achieve the 80% of your desired success just with 20% of your input. The ability to focus and concentrate on that 20 % input becomes the driving force for your business.

From the stance of the principle, engaging in everything all the time can never be rewarding.

However, the use of the principle repositions you for effective management of your energy, time, and finances to increase productivity.

You’ll also discover that some people find it difficult to let go of some ideas and approaches in business.

The Pareto principle will help you to understand that letting go is vital in business growth. You must let go of those inputs that have little or no impact on your 80% output. Not everything is a necessity in your business.

When you strictly apply the Pareto principle, you’ll identify the important 20% input that produces the 80% output.

Thus, the remaining irrelevant 80% input must become your ‘opportunity cost.’ The application of the Pareto strategy leads you to the power of focus for good management of your resources and time.

For instance, concentrating on new leads for growth in a business can be more expensive in terms of money and time. It will take you a long time to convert the leads and turn them into loyal customers.

However, when you give more attention to the top 20% of your customers, you’ll achieve more in less time.

Focusing more on this 20% will increase their patronage in your business as well as help your business profit. You can also get new referrals from them that may turn to loyal customers tomorrow.

Pareto effect

With the use of the Pareto principle, you’ve nothing to lose but lots to gain in your business.

When you keep repeating the 80 20 principles in business, you’ll discover that you’re on the exponential level of the principle. That’s right. You’ll be focusing on the 80/20 of your 80/20, and it goes on.

Letting go of the ineffective 80% of your input, you’ll apply 80/20 of your 20% effectiveness.

This implies that 64% of your output is from 4% of your input. The Pareto effect, from the use of the 80 20 rules, helps you in many ways both personally and in business. Some of these ways include:

Marketing and sales

We know in business that 8o percent of income is from 20 percent of customers. You should strategize in improving the satisfaction of this top 20% of customers.

And also, impress them through your services, products, and other marketing ways for your continuous and increased patronage.

Management of risk in business

When you discover the 80% setback from the 20% risk in your business, you’ll plan on eliminating such risks.

For instance, you know that 80% of complaints come from 20% of disservices in business. If you’re able to identify those customers’ disservices and work on them, you’ll avert the complaints.


From the Pareto principle, you’re aware that 80% of your output is from 20% of your input. This should form the basis of your planning in your business.

Reposition your focus on the 20% input in terms of energy, time, and finance to increase your productivity.

Business delegation

In every organization, 80% of productivity comes from 20% of the workforce. Where you’re not disposed to handle any business transaction, delegate to the effective staff, this will ensure that you get the desired output and success.

The use of ineffective staff as a delegate brings a clog in the growth of a business.


The Pareto principle has become a universally accepted principle for effective business management. You can apply the 80 20 rule both in your personal and professional life to increase your productivity.

Once you’re able to identify your top 20% efforts, letting go of the bottom 80% is the guide for your concentration.

Also, the principle will help you to plan your life, time, efforts and focus your energy on the top 20% input.

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