Welcome to my personal book notes of Ready, Fire, Aim by the author Michael Masterson.

Let’s dive in.


  • Title: Ready, Fire, Aim
  • Subtitle: Zero To $100 Million In No Time Flat
  • Author: Michael Masterson (pen name of Mark Morgan Ford)
  • Author’s website: wikipedia
  • First published: 2007
  • Type: non fiction
  • Genre: marketing / sales / entrepreneurship
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Recommended: Yes

Of the major functions of business - product development, customer service, accounting, operations, and marketing - the one that should always be given top priority in an entrepreneurial venture is marketing.
- Michael Masterson

Table Of Contents Of The Book

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • Part One - Being All That You Can Be
    • Introduction - The Very Best Job in the World
    • Chapter 1 - Getting to the Next Level
    • Chapter 2 - Why Employee Size Matters: A Different Way of Measuring the Four Stages
    • Chapter 3 - Becoming a Five-Star Business Genius
  • Part Two - Stage One: Infancy
    • Chapter 4 - The Supremacy of Selling
    • Chapter 5 - Your Optimum Selling Strategy and the Four Fundamental Secrets of Selling Your First Product
    • Chapter 6 - Mastering the Copy Side of Selling
    • Chapter 7 - Secondary - Yet Important - Priorities for Stage One Businesses
    • Chapter 8 - A Quick Review of the Problems, Challenges, and Opportunities Faced by the Stage One Entrepreneur
  • Part Three - Stage Two: Childhood
    • Chapter 9 - From $1 Million to $10 Million and Beyond: How to Break through the One-Product-Company Syndrome
    • Chapter 10 - Innovation - the Key to Second-Stage Growth
    • Chapter 11 - Speed: Putting Ready, Fire, Aim into Your Business
    • Chapter 12 - Getting Ready
    • Chapter 13 - What Are You Waiting For? Start Firing Already!
    • Chapter 14 - Aiming the Product
    • Chapter 15 - Aiming the Marketing, Part 1: A Quick Crash Course
    • Chapter 16 - Aiming the Marketing, Part 2: Understanding the Buying Frenzy
    • Chapter 17 - Ready, Fire, Aim in Action
    • Chapter 18 - A Quick Review of the Problems, Challenges, and Opportunities Faced by the Stage Two Entrepreneur
  • Part Four - Stage Three: Adolescence
    • Chapter 19 - Making the Stage Three Transformation
    • Chapter 20 - Changing into a Corporate Leader
    • Chapter 21 - Filling Your Stage Three Business with Stars and Superstars
    • Chapter 22 - Bottlenecks, Bureaucracy, and Politics
    • Chapter 23 - A Quick Review of the Problems, Challenges, and Opportunities Faced by the Stage Three Entrepreneur
  • Part Five - Stage Four: Adulthood
    • Chapter 24 - The Last Big Change
    • Chapter 25 - Acting as Your Company’s Main Investor
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Index

Key Concepts & Ideas

It’s the first time I’ve tried to create a blueprint for what I’ve learned how to do:

  • Start a business from scratch and make it profitable quickly - usually in less than two years.
  • Take a developed business that has stalled and get it moving again.
  • Keep a growing business growing as annual revenues climb from a million dollars to tens of millions to hundreds of millions.
  • Get other people to do almost all the hard work for you so you are free to do only the fun stuff.
  • Position yourself as an indispensable business builder so you can enjoy a big share of the profits even if you are working only part-time.
  • Duplicate your winning strategy in several businesses so you never have to worry about needing any one of them.
  • Enjoy the very best job in the world

This is a book about starting and growing entrepreneurial businesses.

By entrepreneurial businesses, I mean businesses that create their own products, do their own marketing, and determine their own destinies.

You will also learn why taking action matters so much in business, and why one business strategy - Ready, Fire, Aim - may be the single most important way to do it.

The time it took to get from zero to $1 million in revenues was different for each company, ranging from one year to five, […].

Yet there was one very revealing common aspect of this initial stage of growth.

Once the business figured out how to sell its product profitably, getting to $1 million in revenues was done within a single year.

The companies that took three and four and five years to hit $1 million were all struggling with the same problem - making that first profitable sale.

But the moment they figured it out (indicated by having reached the $1 million revenue mark), they were up and running.

I could see (…) that once a business hit the $1 million revenue mark, it took, on average, only five years to hit the next level of $10 million in sales.

And when I thought about how each of these companies achieved that next level of growth, I could see that there were two factors that mattered most: speed and innovation.

When you begin your business, (…), the only problem you should have (if you are paying attention to the right thing) will be figuring out how to sell your lead product.

(…) You are taking care of the most important job - and that is sales.

For a business to grow into a $100 million or a $300 million enterprise, it must be very good, if not great, in five areas:

  1. Coming up with new and useful product ideas.
  2. Selling those products profitably.
  3. Managing processes and procedures efficiently.
  4. Finding great employees to do the work.
  5. Getting people, procedures, products, and promotions going.

(…) you don’t need to know how to create products or motivate people or manage anything to successfully start a business.

What you need are two fundamental skills:

  1. You have to know how to make a sale.
  2. You have to be able to put that sales process into action.

Now your main problem is that you are just breaking even (or even losing money), your main challenge is to add other products that are profitable, and your best chance of doing that is by changing your business into a company where innovation is a rule, not an exception.

To reiterate:

To start a business and keep it growing, you need to be able to correctly identify the most important problem, challenge, and opportunity you face at any given time.

In addition to that, you need to become good at five basic skills:

  1. Coming up with ideas
  2. Selling products
  3. Managing systems
  4. Developing superstars
  5. Taking action

The Author On The Supremacy of Selling

Of the major functions of business - product development, customer service, accounting, operations, and marketing - the one that should always be given top priority in an entrepreneurial venture is marketing.
- Michael Masterson

The other functions are important, but without marketing you will not have sales and without sales you will not have cashflow and without cash flow you will not be able to pay for all the other functions (except by going into debt, which is simply borrowing against the cash flow of the future).

Without sales, it is very hard to sustain an ongoing business.
- Michael Masterson

Before your business makes its first sale, it is nothing more than a set of unproven ideas that you are spending money on.

(…) the sine qua non of business: selling the product.

The Real Business Every Businessperson Is In

As a business owner, selling should be your number one priority - and you must act accordingly.

That means spending the lion’s share of your time on marketing and sales-related activities.

To be a truly effective entrepreneur, you must become your business’s first and foremost expert at selling.

There is only one way to do this:

Invest most of your time, attention, and energy in the selling process.

The ratio of time, creativity, and money spent on selling as opposed to other aspects of business should be something like 80/20, with 80 percent of it going toward selling and only 20 percent toward everything else.

Business is not and must never be about what the business owner thinks is good or right.

Business is about providing value to the customer.

And that value can be determined only by the customer.

Wise business owners know that they cannot determine the goodness of an idea until they try to sell it.

So they will try to sell it as soon as they can - if possible before they have spent a lot of time and money making it perfect.

To me, the most important job of any entrepreneur - and the one role you should not give up as your business grows - is to be in charge of marketing your products.
- Michael Masterson

During the first two stages of growth, the priorities should be in this order:

  1. Selling
  2. Pushing (to make sales)
  3. Improving (products and sales)
  4. Organizing

(…) That is the ultimate strength of an entrepreneur: the ability to stimulate sales.

There are many other important skills that can help your business succeed (I would rank the ability to create great products very high on any list, for example), but there are none that will make as much difference as salesmanship.

Then, one evening, I had a transforming experience: I decided to become rich.

When I told my boss my intentions, he seemed pleased.

He told me that the best way for me to achieve my goal would be to help make him rich - and that the best way to do that would be to start spending more of my time and energy on sales and marketing.

(…) The fine-art business, it turned out, was just like every other business I had ever been in.

Its primary activities were all - in one way or another - about selling.

There is a direct relationship between the success of a business at any given time and the percentage of its capital, temporal, and intellectual resources that are devoted to selling.
- Michael Masterson

How Soon Should You Start Selling?

When beginning a new business (or launching a new product within an existing business), the sooner you can make the first sale, the better your chances are of success.

In starting a business, this is what your priorities and sequence of activities should be:

  1. Get the product ready enough to sell it, but don’t worry about perfecting it.
  2. Sell it.
  3. Then, if it sells, make it better.

That’s the smart way to launch a business.

Making the first sale is critical for two reasons.

  1. You need to create cash flow to keep your business going.
  2. You will never really know whether your big idea - what marketers call the unique selling proposition (USP) of your business - is a good one until you give it the ultimate test in the marketplace.

Think of it this way:

When you begin a new business, you have no idea whether your idea is good or bad.

The faster you find out, the better for you.

Michael Masterson On Initial Expenses…

Rental contracts are like marriage licenses. They feel good when you are heavy in love, but after reality sets in they may feel expensive and restricting.
- Michael Masterson

As an entrepreneur, you have to become your company’s number one salesperson - even if you fear or hate the very idea of selling.

Selling is not optional for the Stage One entrepreneur; it’s essential.

And if selling is essential, learning to sell (i.e., developing the knowledge and skills needed to sell your company’s main product) is an obligation, not a choice.

For Stage One businesses, generating positive cash flow is usually - or should be - the greatest need.

Therefore, Stage One entrepreneurs should be focused on that:

Figuring out how to acquire customers in a way that creates cash flow.

==> Check this out.

The product is important but almost never sells itself.

The Optimum Selling Strategy (OSS)

To launch the product successfully and take your new business (or product line) from zero to a million dollars (and beyond), you have to discover what I call your optimum selling strategy (OSS).

Your business will grow quickly, because you will have taken care of its biggest problem:

Acquiring new customers without depleting your bank account.

Discovering the OSS for your product has other benefits too.

For one thing, you will always understand the most important secret of your business:

How to acquire new customers.

There are many problems that can occur as a business grows, but there is only one that is deadly - and that is the inability to bring in new customers.

(…) by establishing your marketing credentials during the first stage, when the selling secrets of your business are still unknown, you will gain a deep understanding of your business that will serve you well for the rest of your career.

To determine the optimum selling strategy for your business, you need to answer four questions that will have a profound impact on how successful you are at developing the positive cash flow your business needs to get to the next level.

These four questions are:

  1. Where are you going to find your customers?
  2. What product will you sell them first?
  3. How much will you charge for it?
  4. How will you convince them to buy it?

There are hundreds of ways a business can go bad, but only one sure way to make it better:

Identify the optimum selling strategy for the stage of growth that you are in and then focus 80 percent of your resources on applying it.

New customers bring new cash, and that cash can be spent on anything your business needs, including better products, customer service, fulfillment, and so on.

You name it - cash and a little time will make it happen.

That’s why discovering and implementing your company’s optimum selling strategy should be your top responsibility.

It’s that important.

Once you have determined your initial optimum selling strategy, you can start to think about how you can “test away from it.”

Spend some time brainstorming with your best people.

Ask the key questions:

  • What other products can we sell?
  • How can we make the offer more enticing?
  • How can we make the advertising copy more compelling?
  • What other media should we test?

The Ultimate Marketing Strategies for Newbies

My best advice on this matter will not stir or inspire you. It may even disappoint you. But it is my best advice: Do what everyone else is doing.
- Michael Masterson

I am a big believer in originality, but when it comes to answering most of the fundamental questions about selling your product (the four questions listed earlier), the best answer will always be this:

Imitate the industry norm.

(…) I will talk about how to distinguish your sales pitch by creating a unique selling strategy.

But when it comes to figuring out where to find your customers, what to sell them, how much to charge them, and the terms to offer, the answer is:

Do what the competition is doing - in the beginning, at least.

(…) But for now, at the beginning, it is smart to start by imitating success.

How To Pick The Perfect Start-Up Product

There are five simple steps to creating a product that can launch a business:

  1. Find out what products are currently hot in the market.
  2. Determine if your product idea fits that trend.
  3. If it does, you’re set to go. If it doesn’t, follow steps 4 and 5.
  4. Come up with me-too versions of several hot products.
  5. Improve them in some way by adding features or benefits the originals lack.

Becoming your company’s best marketer is critical when your business is in Stage One, because nobody but you has the same need to discover the optimum selling strategy.

Four Key Concepts Every Marketing Genius Must Know

To be able to create great copy and work intelligently with great copywriters, there are four marketing concepts you need to learn:

  1. The difference between wants and needs.
  2. The difference between features and benefits.
  3. How to establish a unique selling proposition (USP) for your product.
  4. How to sell the USP.

If you want your best chance of selling a new product into an established market, it helps if you do one of two things:

  1. Make it - in some way - better than the competition.
  2. Make it - in some way - seem better.

Getting a business (or new product) started is like moving a stopped train. It takes a lot of energy to break it free from its stationary physics, but once it is put in motion it accelerates with relative ease.
- Michael Masterson

Closing Thoughts

This concludes my notes on Ready, Fire, Aim by the author Michael Masterson.

My notes only cover small parts of the book, so if you like what you read, please consider buying the book from the author.

Thank you for reading and stay awesome,

Tim for Online Business Dude

PS: Start And Grow Your Own, Profitable Online Business From Scratch, Step-by-Step, Today!

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