This concept is likely tightly correlated to the Pareto principle. Basically 20% of your effort accounts for 80% of the result. Consider learning how to use a new software application. Usually acquiring that minimum level of knowledge (20% of the functionality) that provides access to 80% of the capability you need. Afterwards you learn those other functions as need arises … which usually means digging into the help files and acquiring that more difficult to obtain knowledge.

Let’s now apply the Pareto principle to knowledge required to run your business. The BIG stuff that covers 80% of what you need to run the business (the none core stuff) takes 20% of the effort to learn and add value to your business.  However, the core part of your business … that 20% that makes up your domain specific knowledge probably requires 80% of the effort to learn. Those thin deep slices of knowledge.

Why is that?

Lets revisit an old blog post “The Learning Leap” and overlay that with the core part or domain specific knowledge and overlay that with the Pareto Principle. The initial (1st time) knowledge acquisition is broad and shallow. With each successive leap the knowledge acquired becomes narrower and deeper. It is those deep narrow slices of knowledge that only time and experience can provide. Each slice of knowledge requires roughly the same amount of time to learn; however, those thin, deep narrow slices of domain specific knowledge are probably the most valuable.

The thin deep domain specific knowledge, while it can take years to acquire can often be taught relatively easily. This is a key concept in why mentorship is valuable to first time entrepreneurs working with a more experienced mentor.

-Ian Graham