80-20Also known as the 80/20 rule…the Pareto Principal, is “… named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas…” (Wikipedia: Pareto Principle)

‘Turns out the 80/20 rule applies to a lot of human endeavour too.  It can be paraphrased as “…80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs…”  (What Is The 80/20 Rule And Why It Will Change Your Life).

As a closet sociologist, I’ve long been aware of the 80/20 rule.  Examples:  20% of any church congregation will get 80% of the word done; at charitable functions 20% of the regular attendees will give 80% of the donations;  in any newsroom, 80% of the good story ideas come from 20% of the staff.

But in researching this blog, I was astounded at all the business applications there are for this principle:

Affordable Care Act’s Medical Loss Ratio Rule
The 80-20 Rule and its Challenge for the Cloud
The 80-20 Rule in Relationships and Your Love Life

So how can you apply the 80-20 rule to your voice acting business?

  • Perhaps the best application is realizing which of your clients represent the 20% that give you back 80% of your job satisfaction or provide 80% of your income, and make sure you put them as a priority in customer service and customer care.  You want them.  You need them.  Working with them is a pleasure.
  • I suspect the 80-20 rule works in VO marketing as well.  20% of your marketing efforts (calls, newsletters, promotions, etc.) result in 80% of your jobs.  Personally, I suspect that’s the optimum.  I’d LOVE for 20% of my marketing efforts to result in 80% of my income…for many of us, it may be much lower when you start.
  • I’d be ecstatic if 20% of my auditions resulted in 80% of the work I get, but sadly, the Pareto Principle does not seem to be active in the crazy world of VO auditions.  Is it for you?
  • Clearly, though 20% of voice over practioners are driving 80% of the VO culture.  I’m comforted, but sometimes saddened to see the same friendly faces supporting the causes, carrying the online conversation, attending the conferences, and setting the pace for the other 80% of the VO population.

But there IS value in the 80/20 rule for your VO business.  Again, from the 2006 article by Yaro Starak:  “…Find the products or services that generate the most income (the 20 percent) and drop the rest (the 80 percent) that only provide marginal benefits. Spend your time working on the parts of the business that you can improve significantly with your core skills and leave the tasks that are outside your best 20 percent to other people. Work hardest on elements that work hardest for you. Reward the best employees well, cull the worst. Drop the bad clients and focus on upselling and improving service to the best clients…”

Want to look more into the 80-20 principle?  See: LIVING THE 80/20 WAY, by Richard Koch.

Finally, here’s a fantastic infographic explaining the 80-20 principle for small businesses (that’s us!)
Click to enlarge.

CourVO

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