The Last 5% is probably not worth it

Guest Author

As an entrepreneur for nearly 13 years, I’ve had two life-changing realizations:

One, wow, has it been more than a decade already?

And two, there’s no such thing as a perfect entrepreneur or a 100% successful venture. Spending all your time, energy and resources to achieve perfection might not be viable anymore, considering that your to-do list as an entrepreneur is seemingly never-ending.

Sometimes, the last 5% is probably not worth it. Here’s how you can apply this concept to your business:


Talking about this reminds me of the blog post that Derek Sivers, CD Baby founder, wrote entitled “Relax for the same result”. Derek used to bike 15 miles every day. He used to do full-on biking, as in pedal to the metal, red-faced, rockstar biking that left him exhausted. Doing this — giving his full, maximum effort — gave him 43 minutes.

Over time, though, he started to link exhaustion and tiredness with the act of biking, so he felt tedious and less enthusiastic about it. That’s why he decided to give 50% of his usual effort instead. Doing so made him notice things, live in the present more, and actually enjoy his bike ride. The best part? His time was 45 minutes — only two minutes more than his usual!

So for him, giving 100% of his effort resulted in 43 minutes; whereas giving only 50% and taking it easy resulted in 45 minutes, plus, he even got to enjoy it more as he wasn’t stressed and wasn’t exhausted about the ride.

Considering that the time difference between 100% effort and 50% effort was only 2 minutes, that last percent of effort didn’t give a significant result so it wasn’t probably worth it.

It doesn’t matter how much the actual percentage is. What matters is that aiming for perfection — for 100%, for the maximum effort — in your business isn’t realistic.

When you come to the point where the result you get isn’t really greater than the effort you make to get that result, it’s not viable anymore.

After all, investing 50% of your resources and achieving 23% is much better than putting in 80% and receiving 25%, right?

How does this translate to your business?

Take email design, for example. In my video “How Anyone Can Design and Send Beautiful Emails”, I talked about not custom-designing your emails and sticking to tried-and-tested templates instead.

Why? The trade-off isn’t viable.

Your time, money, and effort to custom-design your email may be greater than the direct and indirect profit you receive from doing it. The marginal gains may be off and you may be better off developing other core components of your business that can achieve a significant impact in your company’s growth.

Having two businesses worth multi-million dollars under my belt, I can say with absolute certainty that you don’t really need to achieve super-duper expert level in all aspects of your business. You don’t need to be perfect because perfection doesn’t exist.

You can approach this with a bootstrapper’s mindset: when inputs are scarce, maximize the output. Because when your time, money and energy are limited, the best thing you need to do is to make the most out of it. Know the phrase, “get the best bang for your buck”? It’s similar, but you want to find the best bang for your time, money and energy.

Another concept that applies to this idea is the Pareto principle: for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

This means that for your business, 80% of the profit may come from 20% of your clients.

Or 80% of your company’s growth may come from only 20% of your activities, such as setting up a better marketing funnel, or a more improved internal system for efficiency.

The key here is to find the best input to output ratio so you can focus more of your resources into doing things that actually improve the growth of your business.

I want to hear from you: have you ever had an experience where doing something in your business led you to the point of wondering if giving your absolute 100% resources is absolutely worthwhile? Let me know in the comments below. See you next week. Cheers.


When you come to the point where the result you get isn’t really greater than the effort you make to get that result, it’s not viable anymore. Here’s why the last percent is probably not worth it. Share on X When inputs are scarce, maximize the output you’ll get to receive. Share on X A profitable equation is: Resources invested < Profit received;NOT Resources invested > Profit received Share on X

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash