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The key points of 'Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine' by Mike Michalowicz

The book 'Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine' by Mike Michalowicz presents a revolutionary approach to managing business finances. The Profit First methodology introduces a simple yet effective system for ensuring profitability and financial stability. By implementing key principles and real-life success stories, this book provides actionable insights for businesses of all sizes. In this article, we'll explore the key points of 'Profit First' and uncover the essential takeaways for transforming your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Profit First introduces a unique cash management system that prioritizes profit allocation.

  • Implementing Profit First involves setting up separate bank accounts for different financial purposes.

  • Allocating profits first ensures that the business remains financially stable and profitable.

  • Using the 'small plates' approach to manage expenses helps control costs and increase profitability.

  • Real-life success stories demonstrate the effectiveness of Profit First in improving business financial health.

The Profit First Methodology

Understanding the Profit First concept

The Profit First concept revolutionizes the traditional accounting formula. Instead of focusing on Sales - Expenses = Profit, it flips the equation to Sales - Profit = Expenses. This subtle yet powerful shift ensures that profit is not an afterthought but a deliberate priority.

Profit First advocates for a behavioral approach to finance, recognizing that our natural tendencies can often lead to business financial struggles. By taking profit first, the method forces entrepreneurs to adapt their expenses to their actual revenue minus the profit, leading to more disciplined spending.

  • Determine your profit percentage

  • Allocate that profit immediately upon receiving income

  • Adjust your expenses to fit the remaining funds

Implementing Profit First in your business

To effectively implement the Profit First methodology, a business must undergo a paradigm shift in its financial management. Begin by setting up multiple bank accounts for different purposes such as profit, owner's compensation, taxes, and operating expenses. This structure encourages discipline and provides a clear view of the company's financial health.

  • Open a Profit account

  • Open an Owner's Compensation account

  • Open a Tax account

  • Open an Operating Expenses account

Once the accounts are established, allocate percentages of each sale into these accounts based on predetermined percentages. It's crucial to regularly review and adjust these percentages to reflect the current state of the business.

Remember, the Profit First system is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Tailor the system to fit your business's unique needs and financial situation. Regularly consult with a financial professional to ensure the system is working effectively for your business.

Key Principles of Profit First

Allocating profits first

The Profit First method turns the traditional accounting formula on its head by prioritizing profit above all else. Instead of following the standard revenue minus expenses equals profit equation, Profit First dictates that profit should be allocated first, ensuring that businesses take their margin before paying expenses.

  • Determine your target profit percentage.

  • Immediately allocate this percentage of every deposit into a separate profit account.

  • Operate your business with the remaining funds.

This approach encourages business owners to think critically about their expenses and to adapt their operations to fit within the confines of their income, minus their profit. It's a powerful shift in mindset that can lead to more sustainable financial practices.

Using small plates to manage expenses

The small plates principle of the Profit First methodology encourages business owners to create multiple bank accounts for different purposes, akin to using smaller plates during a meal to prevent overeating. This approach helps in managing expenses more effectively by allocating funds into designated categories.

By dividing money into smaller, purpose-specific 'plates', businesses can gain better control over their spending. Each account has a specific role, such as operating expenses, taxes, or owner's pay, ensuring that money is set aside for these critical areas before it can be spent elsewhere.

Here's an example of how funds might be distributed across different accounts:

  • Operating Expenses Account: 30%

  • Tax Account: 15%

  • Owner's Pay Account: 50%

  • Profit Account: 5%

Profit First in Action

Real-life success stories

The Profit First method has been a game-changer for many entrepreneurs and business owners. By flipping the traditional accounting model on its head, it has enabled businesses to ensure profitability from the get-go. One of the most compelling success stories is that of a small bakery that doubled its profits within six months of implementing Profit First.

Another example comes from a tech startup that was struggling with cash flow issues. After adopting the Profit First principles, they not only stabilized their finances but also saw a 30% increase in revenue. The key to their success was the disciplined approach to managing expenses and focusing on profit-driven growth.

  • A consulting firm reduced debt by 75% within a year.

  • A manufacturing company increased owner's compensation by 50%.

  • An online retailer improved inventory turnover, enhancing cash reserves.

Challenges and solutions

While the Profit First system has been transformative for many businesses, it's not without its challenges. Adapting to a new mindset around finances can be difficult, especially for those accustomed to traditional accounting methods. Some business owners struggle with the discipline required to consistently allocate profits first.

Resistance to change is a common hurdle, but with perseverance and support, it can be overcome. Here's a list of common challenges and potential solutions:

  • Difficulty in changing financial habits: Implement incremental changes and seek accountability.

  • Managing cash flow during the transition: Maintain a buffer fund to smooth out the process.

  • Understanding the Profit First allocations: Work with a Profit First Professional or use available online resources for guidance.


In conclusion, 'Profit First' by Mike Michalowicz provides valuable insights into transforming business finances and prioritizing profit. The key points discussed in this article highlight the importance of profit allocation, cash management, and the impact of behavioral psychology on financial decision-making. Implementing the Profit First system can help businesses become more financially stable and profitable. This book is a must-read for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to improve their financial management strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Profit First Methodology?

The Profit First Methodology is a cash management system that advocates for allocating profits first, before covering expenses. It aims to ensure that a business is consistently profitable and financially healthy.

How can I implement Profit First in my business?

To implement Profit First in your business, you can start by setting up separate bank accounts for different purposes, such as profit, owner's compensation, taxes, and operating expenses. Then, allocate a percentage of each deposit to these accounts based on the Profit First formula.

What does 'allocating profits first' mean?

Allocating profits first means setting aside a predetermined percentage of every deposit for profit, before allocating funds to cover expenses. This ensures that the business prioritizes profitability and builds a financial cushion.

How can I use small plates to manage expenses?

Using small plates to manage expenses involves constraining the availability of funds for expenses, which forces the business to operate within its means. This encourages frugality and efficient use of resources.

Can you provide examples of real-life success stories with Profit First?

There are numerous success stories of businesses that have implemented Profit First and achieved significant improvements in profitability, cash flow, and financial stability. These success stories demonstrate the effectiveness of the Profit First methodology.

What are some common challenges businesses face when implementing Profit First, and what are the solutions?

Common challenges include resistance to change, difficulty in setting up multiple bank accounts, and uncertainty about profit allocation percentages. Solutions include educating and involving the team, seeking professional guidance, and starting with small, manageable changes.

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