My guest today is bestselling author and speaker Mike Michalowicz. But before we get there, we have a lot of 50 things for you.

At the top of the podcast, you may have recognized the NASA recording of the Apollo 11 blastoff sequence. 2019 is, of course, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. We thought it a fitting intro to the Frankly MSP podcast 50 celebrations.

This is episode 50. As I mentioned in the last episode, Frankly MSP crossed 50,000 downloads in mid-July.

And to mark the occasion, we brought in a few voices you just might recognize. Have a listen below to hear who sent in their congratulations. (Side note: Our lawyer says we have to tell you that all the voices you hear praising the podcast are paid impersonators and are not associated with or endorsed by the actual celebrities or characters, or their agents. Fun though, right? 🙂 )

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But the true man of the hour is my guest for today, Mike Michalowicz. Mike is the author of multiple bestselling books including Profit First, which he’ll be keynoting on at Frankly MSP Live, and his latest book called Clockwork. We dig into big promises, QBRs—which aren’t what you think they are— the 4Ds of business, and a simple but extremely powerful shift in perspective that can change everything.

How to Run Your MSP Business Like Clockwork: Interview With Mike Michalowicz

Mike Michalowicz speaker author Profit First Clockwork
Mike Michalowicz

[04:45] Mike Michalowicz used to be an MSP, known in those days as a systems integrator and value-added reseller. They worked on a break-fix model. He was in the business for eight years, then sold the company.

[06:02] His big mistake in that company was carrying the business on his back. Grinding isn’t the way to scale a business. He had to organize resources around him. Things transitioned for him when he became an owner not a doer.

[07:15] He exited the MSP business in 2003. He then went into computer forensics and sold that business. With the money he made from those business sales, he became an angel investor. But he was really bad at it. In retrospect, he calls himself the angel of death. Every business he invested in failed.

[08:38] That experience made him rethink entrepreneurship and he published his first book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

[09:24] If Mike had all the money in the world, he would be an author. For him, this was a calling. He has 26 more books outlined.

[10:58] The biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs is that they don’t know what their biggest challenge is.

[12:29] Mike originally self-published Profit First because his publisher didn’t want it. They told him there were already too many books on accounting, which was missing the point. It was a massive hit. It was later republished with Penguin.

[13:07] His new book, Clockwork, is about how everything depends on the business owner and they sacrificing everything to keep the business running.

[13:23] Most businesses have a core promise they deliver on. Then they need to identify the singular activity that supports this big promise and never let that get compromised. This is the QBR or queen bee role.

[18:42] There are four levels of activity necessary for a business to thrive. These are the four Ds, and the first one stands for doing. The highest level D is designing. Eight percent of a business’s time is on the doing level.

[19:21] The next level up is deciding. Having the owner make all of the decisions is a dangerous trap.

[20:25] The next level is delegation. This isn’t simply the assignment tasks. It’s the assignment of outcomes.

[21:18] The highest level is the design phase. This is where we have a clear vision of the outcome we want for a business and then choreograph our resources to achieve that outcome. The entrepreneur becomes the organizer.

[22:14] We need to scale to thinking mode and remove ourselves from activity in the business.

[23:21] Productivity is necessary, but it’s a trap that doesn’t scale. It packs more work into an existing timeframe – and if you hit one snag, your whole day or week or month can unravel.

[24:45] People and resources need to complement each other in the most efficient way to achieve the outcome you want.

[25:24] Stop calling yourself a business owner. Call yourself a shareholder. You took a risk and invested in the business. Now you expect an outcome. You may provide direction but you don’t work in the business.


In honor of Podcast 50, this one’s for all you MSPs out there. Keep it real, y’all.

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