Is it time to let go of the 20%?

Dec 14, 2011

So i’m in the middle of Planning Week – and as usual i’m doing the process myself along with everyone in the group (SO much more fun to do it together, imo.)

I had an a-ha in the exercise we did yesterday where we took a look at what made us the most money in 2011. I hopped into Infusionsoft (<– unabashedly sharing my affiliate link ;)) and ran the report that showed all my sales per product. I sorted through that puppy and low and behold made some interesting discoveries:

  • 70% of my income is from 2 revenue streams – the 2 that are the easiest to run and take the least amount of my time (because i’ve done all the hard work to create/systematize them already)
  • 10% of my income is from some new work i’m doing and have started to “dip my toe” in this fall
  • The remaining 20% of my income is from a various mish-mash of different “little” things i’ve offered throughout the year.

Guess which part has taken up most of my time/energy? Yep, that last 20%… when I looked at what I was doing there it really gave me a bop over the head. I don’t have specific numbers to share as I don’t track my time, but I know that I probably spent at least 60% of my time working on what brought me 20% of my revenue.  Yipes!

So perhaps it is time for me to let go of those 20%-ers… and focus instead on the 70%. Seems like an obvious answer but yet part of me resists letting go of these things… for some of them i’m just plain stubborn (but I WANT to do them) and for others I feel like they served me well once upon a time but don’t any longer (feels like we are breaking up.)

I will mull on this a bit, with a focus on aiming to keep things more simple overall and focus on just a handful of key revenue streams in 2012 vs. so darn many like I did here in 2011.

So I ask you – what is your 20%? When you look back on 2011 and where you made your money – what falls into that 20% category and are you ready to let it go?


  1. Val Nelson

    Such a good topic. I just had one of those “breakups” with one part of my income. It was bigger than 20% but I had to do it anyway to be true to my heart. Gulp. In fact, my entire business development process has been about this: Ongoing letting go of the pieces that aren’t the best fit for my path. I find that when I listen to what makes my heart sing most, that ultimately gives me the best income too, even if it feels like a cut in income at the moment. When I have less weight on my heart and mind, more possibilities open, and lo and behold, the ideal clients show up more. Every time.

    So what does that mean to you Tina if you love the stuff that isn’t producing as much in comparison to your time?? Can you find a way to keep everything that makes your heart sing, and make it more cost-effective too?

    • tinaforsyth

      Great question Val – i’ve found for myself that there is a choice and a transition. The choice being how much work do you continue to do that you “don’t enjoy” as much vs. how much do you do what you love. And based on that it can take some time to transition from one to the other. ie: I would never recommend to someone drop everything that you don’t like tomorrow before they know that what they do love will make them money. Likewise I wouldnt’ want anyone to keep doing something that they no longer enjoy just for the money.
      re: making it more cost effective, not sure what you mean by that? do you mean making more money or looking for ways to cut expenses?
      And i’m curious – what is it that makes your heart sing the most? 🙂

      • Val Nelson

         I agree with your approach. I think we’re on the same page.
        To answer your question: What I mean is that your under-earning 20% stuff could theoretically be made more profitable if you systematize like you did with your 70% stuff, or raise prices or whatever needed. Or maybe there will always be those “under-earning” items that are part of our beta testing process. And maybe we just do some of those things like a hobby because we love it. In any csae, there should be a reason we do the under-earning things, not just habit or fear. In your case, I heard you say you love that stuff. Worth keeping somehow.
        What makes my heart sing is helping people follow their hearts.

  2. Shelley Drasal

    Great post.  At this point in my business, I am willing to accept the subcontract work.
    Anyone have any that they would like to outsource?  Contact me.

  3. Savvy Subcontracting

    Hey ladies my solution, is to subcontract it out.  This way you can continue to keep the 20%.  It’s a great way for newbies to gain experience and you can hang on to income. 

  4. Lisa Wells

    Looking at my stats, I noticed the same thing. I hate to let go of some projects but it’s a good business decision that’s for sure 🙂 Also, good thing to do to start off the new year, that sort of made it easier – that feeling of a fresh start!

  5. Kat

    Ah, es, the Pareto Principal…that 80-20% rule strikes again. Your contention that for some you WANT to do them, as well as “feels like we are breaking up” really hit home. 

    I was in that same spot up until I finished reading your post. Now I’m clear about what I need and WANT to do.  Best of all, I’m finally ready to do it.

    Thanks. It feels like you just gave me a wonderful Christmas gift!

  6. Amy Derr

    Anxious to see all the amazing things you plan to do in 2012, Tina!


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