Profit First

by Mike Michalowicz

“Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz is a game-changing book that revolutionizes the way entrepreneurs approach their finances. With a fresh and practical perspective, Michalowicz introduces a simple yet powerful system to ensure profitability in businesses of all sizes. By shifting the traditional mindset of profit as an afterthought, this book empowers readers to prioritize their profits and achieve financial success.


In “Profit First,” Mike Michalowicz presents a unique cash management approach that helps businesses become consistently profitable. The book challenges the conventional “sales – expenses = profit” formula and introduces a new formula: “sales – profit = expenses.” By following this methodology, business owners allocate their revenue to profit first, forcing them to operate within their means and make smarter financial decisions. Michalowicz provides practical strategies, step-by-step instructions, and real-life examples to guide readers on their journey to increased profitability.

“Profit isn’t an event; it’s a habit.”


BIG IDEA 1: Profit First: A Paradigm Shift

Michalowicz introduces the concept of profit-first thinking, where business owners prioritize profit allocation before considering expenses. By adopting this mindset, entrepreneurs are more likely to build financially sustainable businesses and achieve long-term success.

Traditionally, entrepreneurs have followed the formula “sales – expenses = profit,” assuming that profit is what remains after all expenses are paid. However, Michalowicz argues that this formula is flawed and often leads to a lack of profitability. Instead, he proposes a new formula: “sales – profit = expenses.” This simple shift in thinking forces entrepreneurs to make profit a non-negotiable priority.

By adopting a profit-first mentality, business owners rewire their financial habits and decision-making processes. The underlying principle is that profit is not an afterthought or something to be addressed at the end of the year; it becomes the primary goal and purpose of the business. This shift in mindset ensures that profit is set aside from every dollar earned, guaranteeing its allocation before any expenses are considered.

Michalowicz emphasizes that this profit-first approach is not about sacrificing growth or cutting expenses to the point of detriment. Instead, it is a strategy to force businesses to become more resourceful, efficient, and innovative. When profit is prioritized, entrepreneurs are compelled to think creatively about generating revenue, improving margins, and reducing unnecessary costs. This shift in perspective leads to a more sustainable business model built on a foundation of profitability.

Implementing the profit-first approach involves opening separate bank accounts for profit, expenses, and taxes. Business owners allocate a predetermined percentage of income to the profit account before distributing funds to cover expenses. This separation of accounts helps to prevent the temptation of using profit for immediate expenses, ensuring that profit remains protected and available for the long-term stability and growth of the business.

The profit-first mindset requires discipline and consistency. It involves regularly reviewing financial statements and adjusting allocations to ensure that profit continues to grow. Michalowicz provides practical tips and strategies throughout the book to guide entrepreneurs on their profit-first journey.

Ultimately, the big idea of “Profit First: A Paradigm Shift” is that profitability should not be an elusive goal or an outcome of luck. It should be a deliberate choice and a core principle in running a business. By prioritizing profit from the very beginning, entrepreneurs can build resilient, financially secure enterprises that thrive in the long term.

BIG IDEA 2: The Profit First System

The book outlines a straightforward system that helps business owners implement the profit-first approach. Michalowicz breaks down the process into specific steps, including opening separate bank accounts for profit, expenses, and taxes, and regularly allocating funds to each account. This systematic approach ensures profit remains a priority throughout the financial management process.

At the core of the Profit First System is the concept of allocating funds into separate bank accounts for different financial purposes. Business owners open distinct accounts for profit, expenses, and taxes. By separating these accounts, entrepreneurs gain clarity and control over their finances, ensuring that profit remains protected and readily available for business growth.

Implementing the Profit First System involves establishing a predetermined percentage for profit allocation based on the revenue generated. This percentage is then set aside first, before allocating funds for expenses. By adopting this systematic approach, entrepreneurs create a clear and non-negotiable priority for profit, ensuring its consistent growth.

The Profit First System guides entrepreneurs through the process of allocating funds to the different bank accounts. Revenue generated is deposited into the income account, from which a certain percentage is transferred to the profit account. This ensures that profit is prioritized and accumulated consistently. The remaining funds are then allocated to the expenses account, allowing entrepreneurs to operate within their means and make strategic decisions to reduce costs and maximize efficiency.

Regular and disciplined assessment of the financial statements is an integral part of the Profit First System. By analyzing the profit and expense accounts, entrepreneurs can track the financial health of their businesses, make informed adjustments, and continually improve profitability. Michalowicz provides practical strategies and guidelines for setting up and managing the separate accounts, enabling business owners to implement the system effectively.

The Profit First System is not about sacrificing growth or stifling business development. Instead, it encourages resourcefulness and innovation. By having a dedicated profit account, entrepreneurs are motivated to explore new revenue streams, improve profit margins, and make strategic decisions that drive long-term success.

Through the Profit First System, entrepreneurs gain control over their finances, prioritize profit, and build a solid foundation for sustained profitability. It enables them to make intentional financial decisions, reduce unnecessary expenses, and ensure the long-term financial health and growth of their businesses.

BIG IDEA 3: Behavior and Financial Discipline

Michalowicz emphasizes the role of behavior and discipline in maintaining profitability. The book explores common behavioral patterns and provides strategies to overcome them, such as reducing expenses, increasing prices, and focusing on value-added activities. By cultivating financial discipline, entrepreneurs can develop healthy financial habits that support ongoing profitability.

Michalowicz recognizes that certain behaviors can hinder financial success, such as overspending, chasing revenue without considering profit margins, or neglecting to track expenses. He encourages entrepreneurs to break free from these patterns and develop a disciplined approach to their finances.

One aspect of cultivating financial discipline involves reducing unnecessary expenses. By thoroughly assessing expenditures, entrepreneurs can identify areas where costs can be minimized or eliminated altogether. This process prompts entrepreneurs to make intentional decisions about resource allocation, ensuring that every expense contributes directly to the growth and profitability of the business.

Another crucial component of behavior and financial discipline is setting appropriate prices for products or services. Michalowicz advises entrepreneurs to analyze their profit margins and avoid undervaluing their offerings. By charging what the business truly deserves, entrepreneurs can generate the necessary revenue to cover expenses and accumulate profit.

Michalowicz also emphasizes the importance of focusing on value-added activities. Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of spending excessive time on non-essential tasks or unproductive endeavors. By identifying high-value activities that directly contribute to revenue generation, entrepreneurs can allocate their time and resources more effectively, maximizing productivity and profitability.

Moreover, the book explores the significance of consistent financial analysis. Michalowicz encourages entrepreneurs to regularly review financial statements, track key metrics, and analyze trends. This practice helps identify areas of improvement, detect financial red flags, and make timely adjustments to stay on track toward profitability.

To overcome behavioral patterns, Michalowicz provides practical strategies, exercises, and tools throughout the book. These resources help entrepreneurs develop a heightened sense of self-awareness and equip them with the necessary tools to establish and maintain financial discipline.

By cultivating financial discipline and addressing behavioral patterns, entrepreneurs can create a financial environment that supports long-term profitability. This involves making intentional decisions about expenses, setting appropriate prices, focusing on value-added activities, and consistently monitoring financial performance. Through these efforts, entrepreneurs can overcome common pitfalls and build a financially resilient and thriving business.

“Without profit, your business is merely a hobby.”


“Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz offers a game-changing approach to business finances that prioritizes profitability. The book introduces the profit-first mindset, urging entrepreneurs to allocate profit before considering expenses, leading to sustainable financial success. With the Profit First System, entrepreneurs gain clarity and control over their finances by separating funds into different accounts. The book emphasizes the importance of behavior and financial discipline, encouraging entrepreneurs to reduce unnecessary expenses, set appropriate prices, focus on value-added activities, and consistently analyze financial performance. By implementing these strategies, entrepreneurs can transform their businesses, achieve long-term profitability, and build a solid foundation for financial stability and growth. “Profit First” is a valuable resource for any entrepreneur seeking to reshape their financial mindset and unlock the path to lasting success.

About the Author

background in starting and growing multiple successful businesses, Michalowicz brings practical insights and real-world experience to his writing. He is known for his unique and innovative approaches to business and finance, challenging conventional wisdom and offering fresh perspectives. Michalowicz is a sought-after speaker and has delivered keynote speeches and workshops for entrepreneurs and business professionals worldwide. His writing style is engaging, relatable, and actionable, making complex financial concepts accessible to a wide range of readers. Through his books, including “Profit First,” Michalowicz has helped countless entrepreneurs transform their financial practices and achieve profitability.

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