Implementing the Profit First System: A Guide for Small Businesses

If you're looking to take your small business finances to the next level and prioritize profitability, the Profit First system is a game-changer. Developed by Mike Michalowicz, Profit First is a cash management strategy that flips the traditional accounting formula on its head to ensure consistent profitability. Let's dive into how you can implement this system step by step.

1. Understanding the Profit First Methodology:

The core principle of Profit First is simple: allocate profit first, before any other expenses. This approach emphasizes paying yourself (the business owner) first, ensuring that your business is consistently profitable. The Profit First system operates on the following key principles:

  • Allocate Revenue to Profit First: Set aside a predetermined percentage of your total revenue for profit. This ensures that profitability is prioritized from the start.

  • Distribute to Other Accounts: After setting aside profit, allocate funds to various expense categories such as owner's compensation, taxes, operating expenses, and reserves.

  • Operate Within Constraints: Encourage frugality and creativity by forcing your business to operate within the confines of its available cash flow.

2. Steps to Implement Profit First:

Step 1: Assess Your Current Financial Situation

  • Evaluate your current financial statements and cash flow to understand your business's financial health.

Step 2: Determine Profit Percentage

  • Decide on a realistic and sustainable profit percentage to allocate from your revenue. Start small (e.g., 1-5%) and gradually increase as your business grows.

Step 3: Set Up Separate Bank Accounts

  • Open separate bank accounts for profit, owner's compensation, taxes, and operating expenses. Each account serves a specific purpose and helps maintain financial clarity.

Step 4: Implement Allocation Rhythms

  • Set up regular rhythms (e.g., weekly or bi-weekly) to allocate revenue into designated bank accounts based on predetermined percentages.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust

  • Regularly monitor your financial accounts and adjust allocations based on business performance and financial goals.

3. Benefits of Profit First:

  • Enhanced Profitability: Prioritizing profit ensures that your business consistently generates a profit, fostering financial stability and growth.

  • Financial Clarity: Separate bank accounts provide clear visibility into your business's financial health, making it easier to manage cash flow and make informed decisions.

  • Improved Cash Management: By operating within allocated budgets, you'll develop disciplined spending habits and avoid cash flow crunches.

4. Seek Professional Guidance:

While Profit First is a straightforward concept, implementing it effectively may require professional guidance from a certified Profit First professional or small business accountant. They can provide tailored advice and support to optimize your financial management practices.


The Profit First system is a powerful tool for small businesses seeking to prioritize profitability and financial health. By following these steps and embracing a profit-first mindset, you'll pave the way for sustained success and long-term financial stability in your business.