Back in May, I embarked on a new journey.

This was the first time I took this journey in my business.

I wanted to build a different kind of business.

Someone introduced me to the Pareto Principle.

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

I became instantly fascinated by the concept.

As I pondered the Pareto Principle, I thought about my business.

Would it be possible that 80% of my income came from 20% of my customers?

I created a simple spreadsheet and listed out all my customers.

Next, to each customer, I listed the annual income each customer paid me.

Additionally, next to the annual income amount, I wrote what type of business the customer owned.

I then sorted my customer list by income from the largest income to smallest income.

As I reviewed my list, I noticed something fascinating about the top 20% of my customers.

These customers represented roughly 80% of my income.

Additionally, these were the customers I enjoyed working with the most.

I also noticed that my top customers were in the same industry.

With this new intelligence in my possession, I began an exercise of writing a description of my ideal customer.

In the marketing world, this is known as the customer avatar.

I wrote a detailed narrative of Ann Johnson (my avatar’s name).

I wrote down her background.  Where she grew up.

What color hair she has. What color eyes she has.

I wrote down her dreams, aspirations, fears, and frustrations.

At the end of this exercise, I had a page and a half with an outstanding representation of who Ann Johnson is.

I then created a collage with various pictures that represented the major items I had written in my description of Ann Johnson.

I wanted to become acutely aware of what was important to Ann Johnson.

One of the things that I recognized with Ann Johnson is that she was at a point of frustration with her business.

She’d been struggling with growing her annual revenues.  In fact, she had hit a plateau.  Her income had been stuck at the same amount for the last three years.

She was devoting more and more time to work.  Life was becoming more complex and she felt as though she was trapped on a hamster wheel.

Then an interesting thing happened.

I started living her life.

I started to feel her frustration with my own business.

I started to feel like I was working tirelessly with nothing to show for the candle that was almost burned out from both ends.

I then went through my own period of confusion.

The last few months have been some of the most painful months I’ve experienced in my business career.

A week or so ago, I realized I was struggling much like Ann Johnson has been struggling.

It’s been scary.

It’s been humbling.

It’s been unnerving.

Feeling like I have to keep plugging away and not seeing the results, I know are just around the corner.

Feelings of self-doubt have been pervasive.

I’ve had to suck it up and push on.

Receding to the life I once knew has become unacceptable.

It’s brought me to tears as I’ve poured the best of what I have into my work.

Never before have I allowed myself to be this vulnerable.

Never before have I had to muster up every bit of courage I have in the faintest recesses of my soul.

Yet I keep persisting.

I built up a new pride in myself.

I’ve heard the stories of others who grew a phenomenally successful business.

I’ve listened as they’ve shared their struggles.

It’s buoyed me up knowing that I’m paying the price.

I’m doing what it takes to rise above a good life.

This experience has taken me on a journey that has enlightened me to Ann Johnson’s life.

I now know what she struggles with.

I know her pains.

I know her joys when she gets a small win.

A small win that makes all the toil worthwhile.

Sometimes that’s all one needs is to get a small win.

Or a bit of encouragement from someone who’s been there before.

A kind word during a moment of discouragement.

A bit of motivation when everything seems to be caving in.

Just hold on and strive to get to the next day.

Tomorrow will be a better day than today.

It will always be a better day because today, I became a better person than I was yesterday.

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