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The 80/20 Rule

How Utilizing This One Approach Will Prioritize Your Time and Energy

We all know time management is important. However, no matter how well we plan, it seems like there are always things that slip through the cracks.

Consider your daily workload. You have various tasks that need to be completed, and some are more important than others. Often times, we spend so much time and energy completing smaller, low-value tasks, that the big tasks get pushed further and further back. Each day that passes by, the stress of knowing we still need to complete these important tasks builds up. Before you know it, we are frantically scrambling to get everything done at the last minute.

It’s time for a whole new strategy.

From now on, use the 80/20 Rule. The premise is simple: 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 20% of your customers will account for 80% of your sales. 20% of your products or services will account for 80% of your profits.

Thus, by focusing on numerous low-value tasks, we procrastinate on the one or two tasks that will provide the most value. Those one or two tasks are the most difficult to accomplish, but once they are completed, you feel accomplished and satisfied with the results.

See what Brian Tracy has to say about the 80/20 rule:

We think about the 80/20 rule every day when it comes to managing our healthy vending machines business. For every task we tackle, the 80/20 rule is always brought up. We know that 20% of our activities will account for 80% of our results, so we focus most of our energy on completing high-value, important tasks. There will always be hundreds of things to get done at some point. Forget the low-value tasks. Focus your time and energy on things that will actually amount to results.

Today, before you sit down to work, ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20% of my activities?”

If it isn’t, DON’T DO IT!

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The Creative Product: Idea vs. Opportunity

What Distinguishes a Good Idea from an Entrepreneurial Opportunity?

“Opportunity ideas do not lie around waiting to be discovered. Such ideas need to be produced.” – Edward de Bono, Psychologist

Ideas are everywhere, but only the best ideas are made into something real. How many times have we seen a seemingly commonsensical fad product (e.g. Silly Bands and Pokemon cards) and asked ourselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Or take Facebook. How many of us saw The Social Network and marveled at the brilliance of Mark Zuckerberg in coming up with an idea that changed the social world? Albeit, exactly who came up with the idea of Facebook is still under dispute, but the brilliance behind it is still the same. An idea sparked an opportunity, and that opportunity became a website that has now reached over 500 million people across the globe and made billions of dollars.

For an idea to become an entrepreneurial opportunity is a pretty amazing thing. To understand this process, it is important to understand research in entrepreneurial psychology.

Here are three approaches to opportunity recognition:

Approach #1: Opportunity recognition is the process (idea + action) along a continuum ranging from initial insight to starting/operating a business

It’s safe to say that an entrepreneur is not after ideas, he or she is after opportunities. However, the biggest question is as follows: Are ideas and opportunities distinct, or are opportunities simply a different form of expression of ideas in the domain of entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurial psychologist Dimo Dimov explains, “whereas ideas, once expressed, are ends in themselves—an abstract representation of an imagined (future) reality—opportunities exemplify the tension to make that reality come true.” In this way, ideas and opportunities are a process. The original idea is formed and then altered to closer resemble an opportunity. The idea is altered again and again until it becomes suitable for a business venture.

When does an idea transform to become an opportunity? This question is the most difficult to answer because it is the most subjective. Most researchers agree that the distinguishable step is the “action” of converting an idea into a profit maker. This implies that idea and opportunity are not separate entities, but rather inseparable counterparts.

Approach #2: Opportunity development is a social, learning process

Even if we accept the notion that the creative product in entrepreneurship is the continuous shaping of an idea, this is still not sufficient to complete the picture. The first theory ignores the influence of social interaction.

This theory highlights the context in which the idea is formed. If I had come upon the “wrong” website or talked to the “wrong” person, I could have decided not to further pursue my new venture. The insight itself is so fragile that we have to consider the context in which it occurs and thus appreciate its enabling or constraining influences.

We depend on our intuition as well as the interpretation of others when it comes to anything we do. This is no different when seeking to create an opportunity out of an idea.

Approach #3: The social context affects the processes of interpreting and integrating by providing information, ideas, resources that help shape individual ideas

This theory builds on the previous one regarding the importance of social context. The social influences on the opportunity development process pertain to the interpretation that new entrepreneurs gather from those around them.  They engage in discussing, selling, or defending their ideas to this social audience.

Talking with others about your idea can provide valuable pieces of information. Other people see things you wouldn’t normally see. It always helps to have a pair of fresh eyes look at your idea/proposed venture. This suggests the strength of weak ties in one’s social network. The people we know at an arm’s length provide the most benefit. They have access to resources and people to which we normally wouldn’t have access.

We don’t live in a bubble. However, we sometimes underestimate the importance of others when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Ideas and opportunities are a complicated subject. But, going from an initial insight to creating a product or service is a social, learning process. Understand that and you will understand a lot of what goes into creating a successful business venture.

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