The 1 Per Cent Rule of Business

Reality of Business – The One Per Cent Rule

The 1 Per Cent Rule Of BusinessIf you could build a great product for a specific audience, and spend some time finding them, and then tell them all about how great it is, 1% (at most) will buy it.


Before we find the answer, why are we in any way shocked by such a depressingly low figure?

Yes, it’s a massive generalisation (although in the early days I was the king of 1% conversions, haha!), but for the average product in the average market, that’s what you should expect at the very most (don’t let the gurus fool you into thinking you can convert 30,40 or even 60% of the market – not yet anyway!).

It’s why new business projections and cashflow forecasts are such a waste of time (great for bankers and investors, crap for us) and so wildly wrong (apart from the obvious fact that no one can predict the future).

When I started out in business, I got madly excited by the possibilities (I still do too!).

I read everything I could on how to start a business.

I took loads of advice on board (and mostly ignored it).

And I avoided EVERYTHING to do with doom and gloom (I’m not a glass half full guy, I’m a glass totally brimming over guy).

The gurus tell us we must think positive and remove all negativity – even firing your friends and family if necessary.

And of course they would. No one’s going to write a business book telling you it’s all pants.

So it’s not surprising if you’re like me, that we have high expectations.

But my expectations were of others

…when they should have been of me.

We can’t control others, so when they fail to live up to our high expectations, they don’t fail, we do.

That’s why it’s vital we grab hold of the One Per Cent Rule and run with it.

If you were to open a high street shop and fill it full of precisely one product in one size and one colour at one price, how many would you expect to sell if 100 people walked through the door? (this is why shops try to stock hundreds of lines – and when they cut down because some financial guru told them to reduce costs – their sales fall too).

If you’ve just started a business and have decided that all you need do is find a couple of prospects and your off to the races, remember the 1% rule.

Remember that you may well need to attract and talk to 100 prospects before you get a sale.

Use the Joe Girard principle – think of every rejection as another $10 earned towards that eventual $1,000 sale.

This is the reality of business.

But don’t fret. You can change this around, and quickly.


Words (if you know me at all, you’ll know I’m always banging on about them).

Humans love stories (good ones).

It doesn’t matter how long they are, as long as they hold our interest.

Obvious right?

Read the average sales letter or front page ‘pitch’ of all your competitors.

Are you inspired by what they say? (or are you thinking “they suck!”).

If I ask you what you do, what’s your response?

Will I be interested? (you’d have no idea because you just broke the first rule of selling – first find out what the problem is).

(as a retailer, instead of asking “May I help you?” to which the response is nearly always “no thanks, just looking”, you could be a little more creative “What’s brought you into this shop?” – say it with a smile on your face)

Words are not just powerful, they are everything.

It’s how we communicate. It’s how wars are started – and ended.

There is truly nothing mightier than words.

If you want to get above the 1%, start with the art of copywriting.

And if you want some help with that, join my Advanced Business School.

Quentin Pain

Quentin Pain started his first business, a courier company aged 23. He sold it 4 years later and used the profits to start a recording studio. A couple of albums later, he started two software companies, the last one being Accountz, which he grew from zero to 36,000 customers and retired from in January 2013. His current company is ProofMEDIA, a specialist digital consulting business. He's also a published author (including a Dummies title), and has won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year. Copywriting is his speciality and he runs 3 groups on Facebook under the Science of Copywriting brand, which combined has nearly 80,000 members. Quentin is also Chief Executive of the International Copywriters Association.

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