Summary: The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

No-thrills approach to starting a business. Common advice.


The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur offers a no-thrills journey into planning and bootstrapping a successful business even if you have few resources to hand. Forget about wasting time and money on things that don’t really matter. This book shows you how to focus on the important stuff that brings results.

From the back cover

“Never started a company before? Struggling with little or no cash? Have no experience, no baseline to judge your progress against? Thank God! You’ve got a shot at making this work.” So says Mike Michalowicz, author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

Chapter summaries

Chapter 1 – Nature’s Calling

  1. Know your heart’s desire. Write it down in specific detail and refer to it every day.
  2. Make a list of all your excuses to not stat. What are the lies you tell yourself?
  3. Debunk your list of excuses. Write down why each point is untrue. Present a counter-argument supporting your ability.

Chapter 2 – A Little Peace and Quiet (in Your Mind)

  1. Make a list of your limiting beliefs. This is your “Wall”.
  2. Write down your enabling beliefs, your accomplishments and times when you exceeded your expectations. This is your “Channel”.
  3. Knock down your Wall; build your Channel. Stop disempowering thoughts and replace them with thoughts that support you. Keep doing this until it becomes second-nature.

Chapter 3 – The Fire in Your Belly

  1. What do you stand for? What standards do you uphold in your personal life? What do you expect from yourself and others?
  2. What’s your why? Why are you an entrepreneur? Why did you choose your specific industry? Keep asking until you get to the heart of the matter.

Chapter 4 – Getting Down to Business

  1. If you can’t realistically achieve $5m in five years, your focus is way too narrow to grow a scalable business.
  2. Choose one of the following to fully focus  on: Quality, Price or Convenience. Focus on one but also be aware of the others.
  3. How well do you know your idea customer. Create your ideal customer profile – their pains, motivations, challenges and so on. Go deep and develop a clear idea of your perfect customer so that at the end of the process you have a clear idea of who your business serves and how.

Chapter 5 – It’s All About Regularity

  1. Create a prosperity plan: the over-arching, never-changing (but often tweaked) document that describes what your company is all about. It is your written commitment to your company goals and the standards you will abide to get there.
  2. Create your quarterly plan: what your business must achieve in the next 90 days. It documents the three most important goals that your company must accomplish and how you will achieve them.
  3. Establish your daily metrics for your business. Keep track of the figures that matter, e.g. number of new clients, average order value, order frequency, number of customer complaints etc.

Chapter 6 – Are You Ready Now?

  1. Think about times in your life when you said, “No” and really should have said, “Yes”. How would your life be different today if you had gone with your gut?
  2. Learn to say “No” to customers who do not fit your ideal customer profile. It can cost you a lot of time, money and peace-of-mind trying to satisfy customers who are not your intended market.
  3. How has inexperience been a liability in your life and business? How has it been an asset?

Chapter 7 – Shit and Get Off the Pot

  1. What excuses are you still nursing? What’s holding you back? Time to bust those stragglers and get moving. Make a list of everything and anything that is keeping you form your goals, and then find a way around it.
  2. Act as if. If you want a quality, e.g. confidence, but don’t have it, act as if you did. How would you think? How would you move? What would you do? How would you carry yourself? What would you sound like? What people would you associate with? Think how you wish to be then act as if you are.
  3. Find an accountability partner – a friend who you trust – to keep on your case and keep you on track.

Chapter 8 – Clean up on Three Sheets

  1. Make a list of everything you need for your business that you know you can get free. For those things you can’t get free, think of ways you can get those free, too.
  2. If you can’t get something for nothing, can you barter for what you need?
  3. If you still need something that will cost money, identify ways you could get what you need on the cheap.

Take action now! No more exercises. No more pondering. No more psyching yourself up. Your last task is to take one giant leap off the cliff and launch your business. Show the world what you’re made of.

About the author

Mike Michalowicz is the founder of three multimillion-dollar companies, including Obsidian Launch, a company that partners with first-time entrepreneurs to grow their concepts into industry leaders. He knows what it really takes to spin your great idea into pure gold.

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