Profit First: Taming Your Money-Gobbling Monster

By Lynn Wise

Are you familiar with Profit First? It’s something I explored in my previous article, but even if you didn’t read it, you may have heard of this revolutionary approach to cash flow. Based on the best-selling book by Mike Michalowicz, Profit First presents a simple way to rethink your business accounting. While the conventional cash flow formula is revenues minus expenses equals profit, Profit First offers a subtle tweak: Revenues minus profits equals expenses.

In other words, it’s an accounting paradigm in which you set aside profits from each bank deposit you make, and only then do you pay the bills. It forces entrepreneurs to proactively set aside real cash earnings, and it can transform any business from a money-gobbling monster into a profit-generating machine.

In short, it’s all about taming the beast that is your business—but where to start, exactly?


Understanding the Problem

It’s probably fair to say that most business owners review their income statements infrequently. Chances are, you simply don’t have the time to review your important financial documents every single day, and that’s okay! But you probably do check your bank account daily—if only to make sure you’ve still got enough in the reserves to cover the day’s operational expenses.

This is human nature: We want to know what’s happening now, at this very moment, and to make our decisions based on that snapshot of information. There’s actually a psychological term for this tendency; it’s called the Recency Effect. This is the human inclination to overemphasize the right now. This practice of making financial decisions based solely on the current account statements is also called Bank Balance Accounting.

Bank Balance Accounting is common, but also problematic. It’s all but impossible to make real long-term plans or to prepare our companies for growth when all we’re looking at is today’s balance. Business owners who rely on Bank Balance Accounting tend to fall into the Survival Trap—not necessarily working toward a vision or a long-term goal, but simply doing whatever’s required to keep their business afloat in the here-and-now.

The other piece of the puzzle is GAAP, or Generally Accepted Accounting Practices. It is the paradigm that most small businesses use, and the one that often goes hand-in-hand with Bank Balance Accounting. GAAP simply refers to that conventional formula discussed earlier—Sales minus expenses equals profits.

GAAP makes logical sense. What it suggests is that we should sell as much as possible, spend as little as possible, then pocket the difference. The math checks out! The problem here is human nature. We’re not logical creatures and GAAP may make numerical sense, but it hardly makes “human sense.” All too often, GAAP manifests as an obsessive desire to sell more and more, to make your company bigger and bigger, improving top-line revenues and hoping that translates into a big increase in profit. Again, it’s not really a visionary approach. It’s all about doing something now to keep the company afloat. But the real problem is that, as we grow our businesses and making them bigger and better, it causes operational expenses to balloon. The more we make, the more we spend. Essentially, there’s nothing left to claim as profit.


A New Way to Consider Your Business’s Financial Health

In short, what business owners need is a way to monitor the financial health of their business while also working toward real, long-term growth solutions. Profit First provides exactly that, and it does so in a way that uses our natural human behaviors advantageously. In fact, Profit First actually encourages business owners to continue with their Bank Balance Accounting habits!

Maybe you’re ready to get started with Profit First and learn how you can actually be smart about generating business profits. I can recommend a few action steps: Draw a line in the sand today and commit to taming your money-gobbling monster. No more paycheck-to-paycheck living. No more survival mode. Make real growth your goal!

A Certified Profit First Professional that is knowledgeable about home services businesses can coach you on the best approach—how to tame your beast and turn into a cash generator. Ask your Profit First Professional about taking an Instant Assessment, which can provide you with some specific numbers and calculations as you rethink your business accounting practices.

Your company may seem untamable, but Profit First can work for any business—assuming you pursue it with the right coaching. Take a minute to seek a Certified Profit First Professional today!


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

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