Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, A Book Review

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur -- a book review about growing a business with no moneyWhen the going gets tough, the tough get going.  When the tough get going – they had better bring “Toilet Paper” with them!

This is my sorry attempt at potty talk and if you’re offended by it, then you might pass up The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. And that would be a real mistake.

First off, it’s a really short book (175 pages) — so short in fact, you could read this business book while doing your business. There I go again! There are a lot of potty references (like just about every chapter name) — but in between laughs, you will get some straight-talk and in-your-face advice on what to do to grow your business and how to do it.

But first, let me introduce you to the author, Mike Michalowicz. You might have seen him on “Big Idea” with Donnie Deutsch – he was one of the expert panelists.

Maybe you know him from one of the several companies he’s launched, grown and sold for mega millions like: Olmec Systems, a computer network integration firm or PG Lewis & Associates, a data forensic firm that does computer crime investigation.

I didn’t know him, but after reading the book, watching some videos and chatting with him via e-mail and phone – let me tell you. He’s knowledgeable.  He’s practical.  He’s brilliantly, refreshingly funny.

What You Can Learn From “Toilet Paper”

  • Yes, you can do it with three sheets — Who needs a business plan when you can get the job done with these 3 sheets: Prosperity Plan, Quarterly Plan and Daily Metrics.
  • Pick up Cool Tools using the TPE Tips — Just like that pesky toilet paper that sticks to your shoe, Mike throws down these wonderful tips for how do get the job done on as little cash as possible (many of them are free) like these: Use eBay as your e-commerce site.   For web meetings, try Dimdim.  Use the library.  Find retired people or students who can help.
  • The right way to get rid of 90% of your customers and make (that is KEEP) even MORE money — One of the consistent lessons in the book is to FOCUS. Instead of giving everyone some of what they want – focus on the few, loyal, profitable customers that are taking you to where you want to be – and say YES.

What I LOVE About “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur”

Mike doesn’t just give advice — he actually tells you what to do and how to do it. If you’re at the stage of your entrepreneurial journey where you’ve hit a wall or are feeling depressed about your life, the economy or your future — get this book. You will laugh, you will learn something. But most importantly, you will actually do something, even if it’s just to go online and explore some of the tips and tools he shares.

The book is flush with action items at the end of each chapter. He also guides you through some actions within certain chapters such as the Prosperity Plan. In addition to that, you can see examples of Mike’s 3-Sheets at The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur site. In addition to the book, it’s a good idea to subscribe to the blog because he’s forever updating it with really terrific articles that are useful and fun.

Who Can Best Use “Toilet Paper?”

Mike initially thought the ideal audience for this book was a 20-something, college-age guy who wanted to be an entrepreneur. Not so. He’s getting rave reviews from WOMEN entrepreneurs over 35! Apparently we’re not scared away by potty references as long as they are backed up with low-cost (no-cost) ways to start and grow a business that we feel passionately about.

Here’s the deal with Mike’s book and process. It’s not your college’s MBA or Academic Entrepreneurial Program. This book takes building a business from a very human perspective. It assumes that you are NOT a wunderkind genius with access to venture capital. It assumes that you are a regular person, with access to every day resources and helps you combine your passion, resources and action into some results that will make you happy.

* * * * *

Ivana Taylor About the Author: Ivana Taylor has spent over 20 years helping industrial organizations and small business owners get and keep their ideal customers. Her company is Third Force and she writes a blog called Strategy Stew. She is co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers.”


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

25 Reactions
  1. Ingenious topic. It sounds like it has some great ways to do business in a practical sense – with actual “how to” information. I am tired of advice without the hows.

  2. The cover of the book is sure to attract a lot of attention. Not many business books with toilet paper on the covers. 🙂 What would attract me most to this book from your review is that is has humor added into it.

  3. Loved the book. Very applicable and down to earth. Thanks for the great review, Ivana.

  4. After I read the book – I’ve been working on my 3-sheets and I can tell you this is WAY better and way more effective than some other tools I’ve used.

  5. Ivana: Intriguing book review! I have to check it out.

  6. Ivana,

    Thank you so much for the review. I am so flattered that you wrote it. I believe to the core of my being that these tough economic times are going to be improved by entrepreneurs. I don’t think big business or government is going to “save us”, but instead the entrepreneur who is building a strong healthy business, step by step and day after day.

    No question that smart, relentless, passionate, focused entrepreneurs are the ones who will win. And when they win, we all win. Here is to the (toilet paper) entrepreneur!!!

  7. 3 sheets will do it, huh? 🙂

    What are these 3 sheets, anyway?

  8. I can attest to Mike being an expert and an extremely talented media spokesman. If he taught class, I’d probably take it. The great part about this book is that, even despite this economy, it gives people hope. It pushes out the entrepreneur that we all want to be and tells us that we don’t have to be millionaires to live our dreams.

    Great review.

  9. This is one of the best business books I have ever read. It is up there with the likes of Rich Dad Poor Dad, E-Myth, Think and Grow Rich, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People so on and so forth…

  10. This is a follow up to my comment above that I forgot to include before I posted.

    *Disclaimer: I work directly with Mike as his PR Person.

    Sorry for the double comment.

  11. It seems as though Mike’s book is really making HUGE waves through the bathrooms across America! I will also say that I am excited to see this read get the publicity it deserves! The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is filled with incredible insight on what it really takes to thrive in developing, and staying on track in your business. What I enjoy most is that fact that Mike isn’t a “YOU CAN DO IT” kind of guy…well maybe he is…BUT…this book clearly gives the reader MORE than enough TP to get up off their butt and use the last three sheets to create their “dream life”.

    I’m passing this forward!

    A must read for any serious entrepreneur.

    6-stars on a 5-star scale.

  12. Shonika Proctor, Teen Biz Coach


    3 sheets are the last 3 sheets on the roll before the #2 comes! 😉

    @ Mike, Love you much…XOXO

    @Ivana and everyone else-

    Hello. My name is Shonika and I submitted my 3 sheet story via video back in the summer before the book released and I also read the book (in 3 days) AND I am also giving them out this Christmas as gifts to some of my friends who have yet to take the plunge’r…so there Ivana, someone whose potty humor is worse than yours 😉

    As a TPE Evangelist (see official TPE blog where I have commented on almost EVERY blog post since May ;-)) I would say that something that is even more uber cool than the book is Mike (the author), Scott and the entire TPE community. They are extremely hands on from their facebook group to their weekly vlogs (Video blogs) to their Help a TPE feature in their ezine- it goes without saying they take “How to” to another level. Even as a lil’ fish in their big sea of blog readers 30k, I feel that I “gets much love”.

    This is the first time I have actually discovered the Small Business Trends blog, so I am definitely going to add you to my blogroll. And I hope to see you all active on the TPE blog in the near future. Be sure to say hi to me from ‘SBT’ when you stop thru 🙂



  13. I’ve had the privelege to read Mike’s book, to do business with him, and even to joke around now and then. I’ve said it before, “One way or another, this book is destined to be part of at least one major movement.” And, for the record, I assure you I’d write this same review if he didn’t have access those incriminating pictures of me on my controversial trip to Atlantic City.

    Seriously: I’ve got many aspects of my business (and life) to run. I don’t have the time or inclination to read a bookstore full of books on how to do things the right way (whatever that means).

    And yet, here is a guy who is the “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” real-deal. Mike’s book is the SINGLE “business methods” book I use to run my business. Anything else is too much, and the 3-sheets are all I need.

    –Dave Charbonneau

    P.S. Mike, now can I PLEASE have those negatives back?

  14. Ah… the 3 sheets.

    1. Prosperity Plan – In summary this is the long term vision for the entrepreneur and his company. If all the stars aligned what would be the best case scenario 10 years out from today.

    2. Quarterly Plan – This is a method of making the biggest progress possible toward the prosperity plan during the next 90 days. After the 90 days, you repostion by writing another quarterly plan to make the most progress. This strategy is similar to the “tacking method” used by sailors.

    3. Daily Metrics – The final of sheet of the three, is the daily metrics. This sheet contains the most critical numbers that indicate the health of the company. Cash flow, customer satfisfaction may be obvious ones, but numbers such as incoming call frequency may be an even better indicator.

    In the book I give lots more detail obviously, but this should give a good overview.

  15. Thanks, Ivana, for another book review that makes me salivate to read the book.

    When I first received your review in, the book looked so interesting that I added Toilet Paper Entrepreneur to my Amazon Wish List. I see it is gone from the list now, so that means Santa is going to give it to me in my stocking. Woo-hoo!

    — Anita

  16. Mike, I agree that in this economy, smart entrepreneurs will focus on building a strong healthy business, step by step, day after day.

    We can’t wait for the government to save us as, for whatever good these bailouts do to prevent paralyzing crises, they will leave behind a legacy of unintended consequences in the form of new problems including a huge tax burden. Big business is going to be reeling from downsizings, illiquidity and other distractions for a long time.

    We have to find our own strength within — develop our most creative ideas, and put our heads down and work on our goals. Thanks for inspiring and leading the charge.

    — Anita

  17. There is so much wonderful energy surrounding this post and the audience for this book!

    Mike – your energy is contagious!
    Anita – I hope you enjoy TPE as much as I did – so much fun do read and apply.

    Shonika – ROCK ON my woman! I want some of what you’re having to be that engaged in the process and the TPE Community

    Let’s pull this energy together and do something amazing in 2009!

  18. I have not read the book yet but the review is compelling enough that I am adding the book to my “read-next” list.

    The one sentence that caught my attention is “he actually tells you what to do and how to do it”. I spend a lot of time with entrepreneurs and small businesses and one thing I get asked is how do I do this and how do I do that. Looks like this book is a how-to book and not another of those strategic business books.

    Cannot wait to find some time to get read it.

  19. Hi Ivana,

    Thanks for the review. I believe it suits me best. 🙂

    – And the toilet paper idea? that was awesome!

  20. @Luz – Thanks. The toilet paper idea was actually created by the market I wrote it for. Long story, short… it was originally called “Launch”. That title sucked, and then someone suggested “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” – it received instant approval.

    @Prasad – I promise you, you will find it different than most any other book. I and I hope 100 times more helpful.

  21. As a mom entrepreneur, I loved the fact that Toilet Paper Entrepreneur cuts to the chase & gives me quick steps to success. Mike’s concise, to-the-point writing is perfect for mom entrepreneurs trying to run a business & raise a family at the same time.

  22. I really think this is one of those milestone books in entrepreneurship. If you saw any of Mike’s interviews on CNBC you have some sense of his phenomenal expertise in today’s business world. After reading his book I think I caught some of the energy and enthusiasm he put into it!

    Prasad – I can attest that this book really is different from any other business/entrepreneurship book out there. It really is more of a “How-to” than a generic business advice book. I really don’t have any words that can do it justice, so you’ll have to read it for yourself!

  23. I read the Toilet Paper Entreprenuer a few days after it came out. The book is informative, thought provoking, insightful, and humorous. Mike is a talented entreprenuer and business man.
    I enjoy the daily blog posts on the too!

  24. This is a nice book for the young entrepreneur (both in age and mind) looking for tips on how to get started with their business ASAP and become a Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (someone who takes action and gets started in the entrepreneurship world with limited resources but a creative mind).