Man executes 80/20, then freaks out a little

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Last week in my private Mastermind Forum, “Mister L” posted this question:

Hi Planet Perry,

I’m kinda freaking out and just need a little perspective from you seasoned veterans.

Bottom line as of today for the year: my client base is down 23%; revenue is up 43%.

Now, I know that sounds great on paper.  I know I should be doing naked cart wheels, but…

I’m freaking out a little.


The phone isn’t ringing as much.

These were long time clients that through my marketing I must of pissed them off, or “disqualified them”.

Again, it sounds great in a book, but these were long time clients that i really liked.

It’s just weird.

Plus, I’ve hired a full timer, and I’ve got all this free time.

So, I’m doing less work, and making more.

Again, I know on paper this sounds great.  This is the “dream”, right?

"So many options for growing my business, but what should I do NOW?" Tell me your most pressing business problems and I'll show you your BEST next step.

But it doesn’t feel that way.

Maybe, I’m just missing the emotional rush of dealing with hundreds of things all at once.

Now, I’m focusing on 3 things at a time.

Again, I know this sounds great in theory, but to live it, well, it just feels weird.

Also, based on the Marketing DNA, I’m doing what I’m great at.  Now, again, sounds great on paper, but I’m so used to doing work I hate that drains me, and I find it strange that I’m no longer “working”.

Like I’m doing nothing.

It’s like I was in 2nd gears for year, and now I’m in 4th.  More speed, less RPM.

For those of you who’ve implemented 80/20 in your business and have transformed your business on little hinges, who’ve gone from doing shit they hate, to what you’re great at, can you give me a little feedback.


~ ~ ~

What advice do YOU have for Mister L? Post your answer in the comment box:

Photo by: Abie Sudiono

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

93 Comments on “Man executes 80/20, then freaks out a little”

  1. This goes to show how much our society has “taken us away” from what real success is.

    In this case, Mr L needs to accept that what he’s experiencing is a “rewiring” process that is taking place and adjust to it.

    This is a big opportunity to review his DNA, and then explore the “unexplored!”

  2. Mr. L,

    What motivated you to 80/20 your business? Ultimately, what was it that you wanted and have you done that already? Or, was it that you really want the challenge on some unconscious level? Maybe another challenge perhaps? Something to keep your mind busy?


  3. Mr. L,

    I think that’s awesome. These are the stories that give people hope. You could always teach others how to make it happen for themselves in a way that you enjoy doing it. You now have the extra time to pursue something bigger – beyond what you ever imagined – that could influence the masses. Something that has to do with your purpose in life. If that’s what makes you happy of course :) Notebooks are always good for fleshing out your thoughts and ideas. I’m sure you’re already doing that, though, if you’ve made it this far.


  4. I saw the Start principle from Perry M and Richard K, and this seems to be normal behavior, so my 2 cents on this is, Remind yourself why are you doing what you’re doing, having something bigger than yourself as a goal, and keep it printed and seeing it every day as a reminder of what are you doing as your main thing. Your main goal. It’s normal after years of being busy, all of the sudden having more time, but stick to your new you, and keep growing your team, hiring and culture is huge, and finding great people is not easy. ( I’m really new so, I could be completely wrong, anyways, I’m glad to hear that you are indeed an 80/20 maniac now and that you are getting more by doing less! Cheers to you.

  5. I am an 80/20 moron. Just read the book. But here’s my 2 cents. You miss that personal connection with clients. Your business succeeds without it, but your mental health feels like there’s a hole that needs to be filled. Maintain the business trajectory, but use some of your new free time to connect with your clients, both old and new. Call them up. Ask how they are doing. See if you’ve let them down in some way. This personal touch will have the dual effect of making you feel right while making them feel appreciated. Even if you have other people that can do it better, give yourself what you need to feel good.

  6. It’s undoing the bad programming put into our brains that if you don’t work hard AND successful, then you must be lazy or something. Time to reframe priorities of life, sit back, and enjoy the extra time and financial freedom. This book has completely changed my business plan and will soon be enjoying the stress of “what do I do now?”.

  7. You also may be experiencing something like this:

    We received a notice that the ENTIRE warehouse complex we were in (16,000 sq ft) had been leased to a marijuana grower, and as our lease was up in 60 days we were under the gun to find a new place and move. Well, the MJ growers had pushed the warehouse rents up 50-100% in about a year, so finding a new place that we could afford was a real challenge. And if you didn’t snag it the minute it became available you were out of luck.

    Well we finally found something in another town 20 miles away with 50% more space at twice the rent and we had less than 30 days to move. I spent 30 days day and night building our custom racks and shelves in front of the movers and we managed to wrap it up 5 days late (thankfully the new tenants were cool with out efforts).

    When the last truck load was pushed into the new warehouse (literally) I sat down to great physical and emotional relief. However, for the next week I felt emotionally empty, lost, adrift, and kinda like I had no direction or purpose.

    It was very weird. It seems the end of all of that effort, focus, and intensity left me feeling adrift and without purpose or value.

    I imagine it is very similar to the “empty house” syndrome. Once the kids are all gone: now what do you do with your life?

  8. Perhaps you have a programmed belief that “it’s wrong to make a lot of money”, “making money should take a lot of effort and suffering”, “if I didn’t suffer, I didn’t earn it.” Or something similar. My passion is to help people totally eliminate beliefs like these, so they can truly enjoy their success. Let me know if you are interested. If it’s against the rules to advertise here, please delete my comment and let me know so I can avoid it in the future.

  9. Isn’t it interesting how when we finally decide to listen and do what we know is a highly successful thing a.k.a. 80/20 that are victimhood stories disappear. Not just at work, but it kinda filters through your entire freaking life.
    Like you, I was once addicted to having to be busy and constantly pulled and thousands of directions outside of my own ZOG. Perry’s book Has shown be a little light at the end of the tunnel.
    Keep up the good work man! Here’s to recovering victims of perfectionism and no boundary setting entrepreneurs everywhere!

  10. What’s not to like, except I get that uneasy feeling because of your past pattern of activity. The one thing that maybe would freak me out was the belief that you always have to have enough enough customers in the pipeline so if you have reduced your clientele but have increased your revenue, do you now have enough time to look for more clients to fill the empty space and then look for a 20% in those new people to make sure there is plenty of backup to replace any that fall by the way.
    I feel like I need to know more about your business.

  11. I understand exactly how you feel. My wife and I have been hamsters on a wheel for many years in marketing. We landed a deal (for a measly $1,000) in 5 minutes and did the work in a few hours.

    it was like falling off a truck on the highway. Excited… and suddenly scared. Feeling guilt. Why?

    We concluded… realized… that we have such an ingrained sense of work hours = compensation. Work harder, make more. Sell your labor… we are not programmed to sell value.

    It’s time for us to rewire our brains, and that is a top priority now, or we know that we’ll become our own worst enemies and barriers to our own success.

    We have to accept that it’s OK to work smarter, deliver meaningful value without focusing on our labor as the benchmark of our value.

  12. This truly sounds like a beautiful dilemma to be in.

    Go with the flow. Don’t fight it. Be thankful for it.

    You’ll soon hopefully find that revenue continues to increase as your relax into it, I’m sure!!

    Congrats on your success!!! I wish you so much more :)

  13. “Friends come and go, but enemies last forever”. I don’t recall the quote source.

    “I have feelings too.” Quote from my Dad as he was hospitalized and sensing that he was de-prioritized minimized by the attending staff in the hospital during his last days. His memorial as a WW2 hero takes place next week.

    “Watch our for Kramer’s germs!” Quote from most of the kids in my grade 4 class. Kramer was a little girl. (I took a beating in her defense for standing up for her.)

    “Who do you think you are”, I said in the face of the big strong man who had just struck my friend Greg. This happened in the HS locker room, after the 250# teacher smacked the skinny kid.

    Send those folks to me with a letter of introduction, and I’ll give them a big hug.

  14. Enjoy the free time to spend with family and friends, doing the hobby and things you love. Also try to grow your business by trying to add that new product, or diversify into another venture all together. I envy where you are and hope to be there some day!

  15. As a coach, I believe you’ve entered your “discomfort zone” which is pretty much guaranteed to appear every time you (or any of us) step up to a new level of awareness and productivity.

    Rather than ignore it, I suggest you take some time to explore it, because you’ll find gems of insight you can use to take yourself and your business to the next level. Depending on your makeup, you could write in a journal, talk to a friend or trusted advisor, or speak your thoughts into an app that will transcribe them. Also, if you’re helping your clients transform, they go through this repeatedly just like you do, and what you learn can lead you to the next high-value aspect of your offering.

    Blessings to you on your journey, and congratulations for taking your business to a new height.

  16. Dear Mr. L.
    You wrote: ‘These were long time clients that through my marketing I must of pissed them off, or “disqualified them”.’ What you are doing here is mind-reading. How do you know it’s this either or? Perhaps there’s another explanation and to find out is: ask them. To get the whole picture, make sure to ask your current clients why they stick with you. Oh and keep in mind 80/20 when formulating the questions.
    Good luck and please share your actions and results.

  17. Mister L,

    Enjoy your freakout and the naked cartwheels and whatever else floats your boat then get back to work, ‘cuz you got a lot to do right now.

    Congrats, you’ve jettisoned your deadwood. Adios, good riddens, sayonara.

    Now you must turn your attention to the cream of the cream. The 20% of the 20%. Be sure to have something of value to offer them. Something different. Something much more expensive, because that’s what they WANT. Give it to them.

    Adjust your USP for these folks, craft your message, go after them, and if you’ve done your job right, you’ll enjoy the next level freakout.

    Just be aware that naked cartwheels in public is illegal in most States.

  18. A couple times I lowered the prices on the website back to what they were because I was afraid, but I hated my business so bad I raised the prices back to 4X. It took about a year, but I am finally at the point where I would never go back to what I had before. Maybe you are hooked on Drama and something always has to be wrong? I don’t hear you talking about all the time you have to READ BOOKS and HELP OTHERS.

  19. I just discovered Perry Marshall and the 80/20 so maybe I’m missing something here, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but with your implementation of the 80/20 and it’s positive results in your business, isn’t the goal then to take your extra time and apply it to working more with your clients who are bringing in the 80% of your revenue?
    After reading Perry’s book, I was so interested in the subject that I read Richard Koch’s book about the subject in which he talked about the owner of the first consulting company he worked at and how his belief was that a client who spends one million with you (if given your time, attention and expertise) is capable of spending ten million with you.
    So perhaps that’s what you should be focusing on with your spare time.

  20. I run an English school for children in Japan. There are plenty of people I like just fun, but whose children I don’t want to teach. Their children cause undue amounts of stress and make the classroom environment less appealing for my other students. The reverse can be true as well, great kids with lousy parents. I have learned from Perry that letting these customers go is actually really good for my business. A likeable customer can hold back your business.

    What should you do? Keep growing! You have only scratched the surface. Get a bigger vision for what your business could achieve if you continued to apply 8020. The fractal nature of 80/20 is what makes it so amazing- infinitely scaling as the set expands… go national, or international… The sky is the limit. If you can imagine it then you can probably find a way to execute. Just remember why you’re doing it all in the first place.

  21. I I would say that you have an amazing assistant who’s enjoying 80% of the work that you do not like to do. Team work! So, sit back and, enjoy the ride in 4th gear! You deserve it after struggling with being in 2nd. gear!

  22. I would say “Congratulations!” because you have entered the realm of high-quality problems, like where to get your BMW fixed or where to “winter” this year–oh how I look forward to using “winter” as a verb! I used to think (naively) that people with money didn’t have problems. But everybody has them. Some of us just have higher quality problems than others. It’s all relative, right? You are viewing the world from a new platform, and it’s time to pick some new goals (big hairy audacious ones, preferably). I always love Oprah’s response when people gush over getting on her show. “You don’t understand–this is my biggest dream to meet you and be on your show.” And she calmly replies, “Yah, time to get some bigger goals, honey.” For the extra time, read some of Tim Ferriss on “filling the void.” Some good stuff there. Or what about giving some extra time and attention to the people in your life? It sounds like you’ve grown a lot to get where you are. Enjoy it. Bask. Marinate in the juiciness of all that stuff “on paper.” But keep growing. I love that quote about doing something every day that scares you. Reminds me not to get too cozy in my comfort zone!

  23. Kind of sounds like going from an employee mindset to an owner mindset? And maybe feelings of unworthiness? Guilt for others stuck in the rat race? Sounds like you had a breakthrough.

    1. Let’s generalize about this so as to not make it personal.

      Some authors, only 20% of their stuff is worth reading.

      Other authors, 80% of their stuff is worth reading once and 20% is worth reading 5 times.

      Which category am I in? Only you can decide.

      1. I would formulate this from the reader perspective: right now, there are 20% of Perry books and programs that would improve my business by 80%. Or from that 80/20 book, if we apply 20% or even 4% in our business, we will jump to a higher energy level. So, it is not about the quality of Perry material, but rather about what should be focusing on.

  24. From reading your comment, I get the feeling you’re dealing with four things-

    1. Loss of (or not getting to deal with) certain clients you really liked
    2. Guilt over not doing busywork, or of being productive.
    3. The curse of idle time
    4. The new fears that success can bring.

    If I were you, I would look into the clients I liked dealing with, and wonder what I missed about them. Maybe there was a cute receptionist, a really friendly sales guy, or something else that just brightened your day. If they were filling some non-business need, maybe you need to seek that sort of relationship out in your life, or see if there is some other way to have a relationship with those clients.

    For any guilt you have over not doing busywork, you may just have to wait it out and get over it. Or, maybe you can use that time to work on some other goal that you have been putting off for some time. That would deal with the curse of idle time, as well.

    And lastly, any time you get to do something you wanted to do for a long time, it doesn’t feel quite like you imagined it would. When I started making more money and didn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore, I suddenly developed this fear that I would have to go back someday living paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t have that fear before, because I was already living it! Again, this may be something you have to give some time and just get used to.

    Hope some of that helped!

  25. I totally understand the feeling, i think “it’s because the old making crazy hours and do 30 things alsmost at the same time” has been part of your identity. You’re just missing the dopamine :)

    Relax you’ll find comfort in your new lifestyle and interesting new idea’s to develop.

    It’s like leaving high-school: the first year you want to go back because you miss the fun and the friends you’ve been with so long, but after a while there’s now way you want to go back at all right?

  26. I’ve thought about this for a while. It seems to me our future can be two things. 1. Spontaneous and unexpected (which is most peoples experience – opportunity lead) or 2. mostly known. That is, directed – by you. I’ve found if I follow the latter, it leads to far greater sponteneity and even more (interesting) unexpectedness! That might just be the ticket to rock your boat. What’s your next big challenge?

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