From Mike Michalowicz, the author of PROFIT FIRST, CLOCKWORK, and THE PUMPKIN PLAN, comes the ultimate diagnostic tool for every entrepreneur.
The biggest problem entrepreneurs have is that they don't know what their biggest problem is. If you find yourself trapped between stagnating sales, staff turnover, and unhappy customers, what do you fix first? Every issue seems urgent -- but there's no way to address all of them at once. The result? A business that continues to go in endless circles putting out urgent fires and prioritizing the wrong things.
Fortunately, Mike Michalowicz has a simple system to help you eradicate these frustrations and get your business moving forward, fast. Mike himself has lived through the struggles and countless distractions of entrepreneurship, and devoted years to finding a simple way to pinpoint exactly where to direct attention for rapid growth. He figured out that every business has a hierarchy of needs, and if you can understand where you are in that hierarchy, you can identify what needs immediate attention. Simply fix that one thing next, and your business will naturally and effortlessly level-up.
Over the past decade, Mike has developed an ardent following for his funny, honest, and actionable insights told through the stories of real entrepreneurs. Now, Fix This Next offers a simple, unique, and wildly powerful business compass that has already helped hundreds of companies get to the next level, and will do the same for you. Immediately.
"As a fellow business author, I rarely read anything in my own genre—but I make an exception for every one of Mike's books. I always go away feeling educated, challenged, and fired up to make improvements in my business. (I'm still not going to wear a vest, though.)"
-Chris Guillebeau, author of The Money Tree and Side Hustle
“Mike is a genius.”
-Don Miller, author of Building a Story Brand
“Similar to the human body, a business has specific needs for it to grow healthily. Fix This Next explains the make-up of your business and how to pinpoint where its health it compromised’
-JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet
“All small business owners get stuck and are not sure what to do next. Mike Michalowicz shows you the very next step in growing your business right now.”
-Barry Moltz, Small Business Expert
“Every single business coach should be using the Fix This Next process for every client they work with. No question.”
-Taki Moore, author of Million Dollar Coach
Mike Michalowicz (mi-CAL-low-wits) launched and sold two multimillion-dollar companies and is the author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, Clockwork, and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He is the host of the American Express Turning Points podcast, and he is a popular speaker who has shared his insights on business and entrepreneurship at TEDx, CreativeLive, INCmty, and others. His columns have appeared in TheWall Street Journal, Box Pro magazine, Entrepreneur, OPEN Forum, Harvard Business Review, and more.
“I OWE YOU A BEER!”
The subject line of Dave Rinn’s email caught my attention. I read on.
“I was just sitting here buried. I recently lost one staff member to a lateral move and another is in Hawaii. Instead of three of us carrying the load, I was here alone, crushed under it. We used to just do everything that came our way, but with two people out, it was clear that our approach of putting equal importance on everything wasn’t working. We need to do the right things, not everything. Yet I was feeling paralyzed by the multitude of choices. It was like trying to go down every path at once. I didn’t know what to do next.”
Sitting here buried. Feeling paralyzed. Don’t know what to do next. Yup. That sounds about right. Some business owners feel this way from time to time. Most business owners feel this way all the time. That relentless weight of being buried by all of the problems that need to be fixed affects business owners of every level of experience and success. Whether you just started out or your company is the industry leader, whether you’ve struggled to make payroll or are rolling in profit, that urgent need to fix everything, like now, can cause you to freeze up. Which problem should you tackle first?
Dave runs a successful coaching and cash-management firm. Most days, his solution to overwhelm was an instinctual response: get more people doing more things. Yet when he was down two staff members, he was blessed with the new awareness that not everything is of equal importance. Suddenly, he was dealing with all aspects of his business: intakes, bookkeeping, scheduling coaching calls, making the coaching calls, chasing down data from clients— everything. Down two employees, weak links that were always present were amplified and became crises.
So, why did Dave say he owed me a beer?
“I have always just gone with my gut in the past. I believed that every problem was a problem to be addressed. Every opportunity was an opportunity to be exploited,” Dave explained in a follow‑up phone call. “In moments like these, I would have just gone into ‘fire-extinguisher’ mode and put out the fires that were burning my ass. I would have responded to whoever screamed the loudest. And when the team returned, I would switch from ‘fire-extinguisher’ mode to ‘emergency-dispatcher’ mode. We had the same problems, except now, I told my team which fires to put out. Beholden to the never-ending stream of urgent issues, we had no specific pathway to growth.”
But now, Dave had a secret weapon. A simple tool, not in his toolbox, but printed out and taped to his wall.
“This time, though, I looked over at my wall and saw the tool you gave me last time we met. It reminded me to slow down, step outside instinct, and ask, ‘Okay, instead of doing little bits of everything, what is the one thing I should fix next to move the business forward?’ ”
The tool taped to Dave’s wall is something I call the Fix This Next (FTN) analysis, and I’d given it to Dave as part of a beta- testing group years back. Using it, Dave discovered that he had four issues related to his current problem— wo related to sales and client commitments, and two related to overall efficiency, what I call order. In just minutes, he was able to figure out which problem he had to fix next in order to make progress that sticks, and how to approach it. He quickly identified solutions for handling the systems problem: adjust client commitments and adjust his company’s workflow.
Dave told me, “Just thinking through it was a calming process. I was no longer spinning out of control. I thought, ‘I can handle this. Now I have a pathway.’ It pulled me out of my sense of drowning, and I was able to pause and consider what we were missing and what we could address to fix it.”
“The fix I came up with wasn’t just for the moment,” Dave continued. “It was a realignment of the business so that I could straighten out and not have to go into that buried mode over and over again. The fix helped me now and it will help me next year. I am able to address my business’s current issues in a way that will serve my company’s future. Now, when I find myself questioning what to do, I pause momentarily, evaluate what to address with the FTN analysis, and then find myself back in control and my business moving forward.”