The 20X Rule

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Much of my time spent coaching is egging my clients on so they get websites done, pitch new clients and test and try new products in the market.

The enemy of a new entrepreneur is endless planning and  perfection.

After celebrating that they did take a serious step, I often get a slightly dejected email or deflated check-in on the next coaching call.

“I sent that email to two potential clients, but neither of them has gotten back to me yet.”

“I designed and launched the teleclass we talked about, but only one person signed up. And it was my sister.”

It is at this moment that I have to explain the 20X Rule.

The 20X Rule

In business, as well as other things in life like getting your 6-year old to pick his clothes up off the floor, you have to sow twenty times more seeds than you think realistic or necessary to make things happen.

You will set yourself up for heartbreak and mediocrity if you don’t radically adjust your expectations for the amount of outreach and connections it takes to kickstart your business.

What do you think would happen over the course of one year if:

Instead of reaching out to one new journalist a month, you reached out to twenty?

Instead of reaching two prospective clients a month, you reached forty?

Instead of testing three new product ideas a year you tested sixty?

Chances are you would see some radically different results.

When I first started my newsletter eight years ago, it took me two months to write one article.

Now I crack out twenty times the content in one month and don’t even break a sweat.

If you get results faster, great.

Maybe you will have fantastic luck and with some strategic thinking will reach out to three qualified clients and book your business.

I would rather you expect to reach out to twenty and be happy it took fewer contacts than be crushed that you don’t sign up your first client the first time you reach out to them.

Entrepreneurship is a marathon. Train for it!

If you need some help with your sales engine, you might enjoy Ethical Selling That Works.

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41 Responses to “The 20X Rule”

  1. […] and challenge is seeped into my everyday activities and way of life.  I did take a lot away from “The 20X Rule” Slim defines on pages 97-99.  She talks about this concept in her previous book, and you can read […]

  2. […] is going to require me to take a lot more risks and I’m going to be keeping Pam Slim’s 20X Rule in my mind (I might even hang a “20X” reminder on my […]

  3. […] It takes work to get work. As fellow career coach Pam Slim said in her recent blog post on the 20X Rule:In business, as well as other things in life like getting your 6-year old to pick his clothes up […]

  4. […] I mentioned in my 20X Rule post, developing relationships that turn into sales takes much longer than you […]

  5. […] While there is no hard and fast rule and things will vary a bit by topic or industry, author and small business coach Pam Slim suggests 20 times more than you might first think is necessary. Yes, 20x and yes you can do […]

  6. […] Pam Slim discusses the 20x rule, and essentially you need to sow 20 times more seeds than you think is necessary. Rather than merely calling 5 prospects per week, why not call 100? Granted, some people don’t have the time to do so, but if you don’t think you have the time, then you need to ask yourself why you call yourself an entrepreneur. […]

  7. […] her blog Escape From Cubicle Nation, Pam Slim writes about The 20X Rule.  After actually taking an action, imagine  what would happen if you took that action 20 times. […]

  8. Great advice (and reminder). I think it’s very easy to get caught in that web of perfection, too. Over-thinking the blog post, re-examining the website for the 64th time..

  9. P.F. Bruns says:

    Now, if I just had 20x more time and 20x more motivation…

  10. Jim says:


    I see you only wrote 1 blog entry on the 13th July. Shouldn’t you be writing 20?

    When exactly does this 20X equation start/end? I started typing when I was in my teens, now I can type at least 20 times as fast. However, I couldn’t type 20 times faster now.

    Unfortunately you fail to take into account the Cost/Speed/Quality triangle which you should know as an entrepreneur. You can produce 20X more but it will either be rubbish quality or ridiculously expensive.

  11. […] and your looking for a way to just take charge of your life and get more out of yourself, maybe the 20x rule will help you on your quest to achieve this, check out more about the 20x Rule. Follow […]

  12. olhaopogajo says:

    This is really wrong! Things taste good or taste victory because they are hard to achieve and can be so only from times to times … the newsletter example only teaches we can do things better because we do it and start figuring how to do it more effectively, and at some point you don’t even taste it

  13. Paul Foster says:

    Such an excellent yet simple concept. Application and persistence is the key! Thanks

  14. Great post – reminds me of an important saying: Do the work and forget about the results! When I try to measure the impact of every action I take (like, “I reached out to two journalists and neither responded – I am so bummed!”)I take my focus off the work – and it can really get me stuck. Can’t control outcomes, right? So, if I can keep doing the work, driven by inspired action – (and as you suggest) lots of it, the payoff will come in its time. Thanks, Pam for reminding me to keep on keeping on!

  15. Darren says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Pam! It helps me to keep pressing on, and letting go of perfectionism.

  16. This is so true! I think also that doing things 20x as much makes each time have less gravity—that way you aren’t sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from one person–instead you think more about the next way to put your work out there. I often forget this, but I’ve recently started to take this approach about getting my art out there—I’m starting to approach wholesale opportunities and illustration jobs this way. Thanks for the reminder!

  17. Gwyn says:

    Perfectly timed! I have been spinning my wheels waiting for nothing to happen. I know this, but still need to be hit over the head time and time again. DO THE WORK!!!

    Thanks 🙂

  18. Richard says:

    The 20x Rule… a.k.a The art of the followup!

  19. Antony says:

    Hi Pam,
    20X Rule… wow! I must do more.
    Thank you 😉

  20. […] in business news this morning “The 20X Rule” an article from Cubicle Nation that focuses on how entrepreneurship really compares to a […]

  21. Emily Rose says:

    I think this is great advice, but if you are feeding someone 20x more information with 10x the enthusiasm, will they be able to handle the outcome? lol ^_^

    I just started a new website and I am pro-actively trying to find what that balance will be for myself, my site and my fans/potential customers. It can be a tricky balancing act, i mean we are all on information overload aren’t we?

    Just something to think about.

  22. Pam,

    That’s exactly what I needed to hear today.

    Thank you!

    :: Marta

  23. Brandon says:

    I’m just going to take this as a sign. This is probably the 4th or 5th article in the last week that has told me to get back down in the trenches and do the work. I have done it some, don’t get me wrong, but the answer is more… I must do more.

    Thanks for the *push*. 🙂

  24. Erin Howard says:

    Great article! I guess my background in direct marketing was a good preparation for this aspect of entrepreneurship – because in the good old days of direct mail a really great response to a mailing was 1%, and later on a good response for an email to existing customers was .1% – and an expected response for an email to prospects was .01-.001% of everyone you mailed to! I suspect these numbers may have even gone down in the past few years as we all get bombarded by more and more marketing messages.

    The 20x rule is a great way to explain this concept without all the geeky data I just mentioned above. My marketing clients are small business owners and I forget they might not know this rule since they’re not former data monkeys like me!

  25. Dawn Barclay says:

    Quoting you Pam: Entrepreneurship is a marathon. Train for it! – Love it. Thank you Dawn

  26. Martha says:

    YOU are a smarty pants, Pam Slim. I love, love, LOVE that you were once where I am now. This give me SUCH HOPE!!!! 🙂 Cheering you on….

  27. fas says:

    So basically conversion rate is like 4%?

  28. Ian says:

    Nice – can you therefore find a clever way to make mine a 480hr day………. 20x the input = 20x the effort – but as entrepreneurs wecdon’t need to think about dull things like resource planning – we have soundbites to power us along……

  29. What a great way to think about it!
    Being strategic will help improve the odds and your success rate.
    The only thing worse than not reaching out enough, is carpet bombing and hoping something sticks! 😉

  30. Reminds me of when Eryka Laremark (Daily Whip) says if you’re not pitching at least 10 prospects per week, you’re not working hard enough. I sort of expected to snap my fingers and freelance work would just start rolling in. It took me longer than expected and I had to send out a LOT of pitches. You’re absolutely right. To get the desired results, you have to work 20X as hard as you think you need to work.

  31. Renita says:

    Such a helpful reality check, Pam. Sounds like a formula for grit. 😉

  32. Julica says:

    Oh my gosh, yes. I just realized as I read your post that I am running two marathons concurrently: entrepreneurship and mothering two girls under 7. Maybe I should be scheduling TWENTY naps. ::grin::

  33. Jenny Blake says:

    BRILLIANT!!! Such an important reminder — thank you!

  34. Nick Brown says:

    I was really motivated to respond to this great blog post. You’re post reminded of this book “The 10 X Rule” by Grant Cardone. He is essentially pitching the same concept – Most entrepreneurs fail because of the lack of effort more than any other reason. He recommends giving 10 times the effort than your competitors to dominant your sphere of influence. I love this post! Thanks for keeping me working focused on the job!

  35. Rebecca says:


    This is the perfect message for me to hear today! Thank you.

    I recently launched a new site and will keep ramping up, up, up!


  36. Oh so true! It breaks my heart when I hear a student tell me they emailed their list of 150 and wanted to have 20 paying students … it’s just not realistic! It IS indeed, a marathon. And we get so very, very fit by running it! 🙂

  37. Sandi Amorim says:

    This reminds me of an awesome leadership training I did years ago that had us act 10X more excited about anything we were doing in life. Best six months of my life and this post is a great reminder of how it works, anytime, any place!