The 80/20 Rule in Business. Focus on Sales, not Differentiation

The 80:20 rule is an important business lesson that all great brands understand. It’s the reason Apple does not sell skateboards, and the reason that Teemill doesn’t offer loads of different products.

We do a lot of things at Teemill that on first glance can look like restrictions or limitations. In reality, most decisions like this are well thought through and taken in the best interests of people looking to build a successful business on Teemill – we hope you’ll agree.

If you’re wondering why we don’t sell more products like bags, accessories, phone cases and novelty items, it’s actually for your own benefit.

The 80:20 rule is a timeless piece of business knowledge that every experienced business person can relate to. It says that 80% of your revenue will come from just 20% of your product lines, and the remaining 80% of your product lines will only make up 20% of your sales. A lot of startups fail because they don’t understand this thoroughly enough.

Some brands and startups fail as they get distracted differentiating and developing lots of different product types. Successful businesses tend to do only one or two things well and focus their time on getting sales.

Take this graph for example. It shows how t-shirts and tops form almost all the sales demand on Teemill, whilst bags, accessories and kids stuff is tiny in comparison.


This explains why we do not offer loads of different products on Teemill. We only offer the products that will make you lots of money. It’s now easy to resist the temptation to waste your time developing new designs for trainers, lanyards, phone cases, backpacks and caps – because you can’t! Instead you now understand that 80% of your revenue will come from just one or two t-shirt designs, and if you want to be successful, you now have some spare time to invest in building a better store. They need to be amazing, and you need to do some work to get the traffic and hype.

Make your best products look amazing with great photography and product descriptions, then focus purely on increasing your traffic and getting sales through PR & marketing. Already got some great designs? Ask yourself how you’re going to increase your traffic and sales. That’s the fastest way to make your Teemill a success.

It’s helpful to consider that there’s not much new under the Sun. Businesses on the banks of the River Nile in 2000BC probably had the same growth ambition, drive and innovation as your business on Teemill. The Roman grain merchants or Victorian cotton sellers faced the same issues on sales, awareness, brand reputation and product quality. History can’t tell you exactly how to run your Teemill store, but it can light the path. There’s not one successful business out there that succeeded by differentiating when they should be driving sales, or developing products in new categories when they were ready to win through in a bigger one.

In fact, the worlds greatest book on business growth, Good to Great by Jim Collins, dedicates an entire chapter to this exact point.

That’s why we choose the products we have on Teemill carefully. It’s to help guide you make a success of your Teemill project, and protect you from the temptations that lead to failure.

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