Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz Summary, Review, And Takeways


In Clockwork: Build Your Business To Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz, you’ll learn how you can build a business that runs like clockwork while you reclaim your freedom and stop grinding in your business.

Who Should Read The Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz Summary?

  • All business owners who feel like they have built a hustling job instead of a business.
  • Small business owners who can’t find time for anything other than their business.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to scale their business fast.
  • Employees who want to improve professionally in a company and win the award of the employee of the month.
  • Visionary people like Elon Musk who want to revolutionize the world.
  • People who want to build a business and achieve freedom of time and money.
  • Anyone who wishes to start a business someday.

Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz Summary (PDF)

Here is the thing:

Most business owners start their businesses with the hope of making an impact in the world.

But as time passes, they find themselves grinding and working even harder than a regular job.

They work hard, no doubt.

But all that costs them their time and energy.

Usually, for most business owners, their business is entirely dependent on them.

They can’t afford to go on a vacation.

They can’t find time for anything other than their business.

If they stop working, their business will fall apart.

Sound familiar?

You might even say, “What’s wrong with that? That’s the typical way of doing business.”

In this book, Mike talks about building systems in business so that they run like clockwork.

Just as a clock keeps working endlessly without needing anyone’s help, a business should also be able to run without the owner.

Of course, a business owner should manage his business.

The point is:

A business owner should not be a slave of his own business.

In this summary, you’ll learn how to build the right system by hiring the right people for your business.

And how to become more of a designer than a doer.

After reading this summary, you’ll be able to reclaim your precious time and use it to design a clockwork business.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Key Idea #1: Limit the work time to be more productive

Productivity is about doing more in less time.

The author explains how most business owners fall prey to the productivity traps by giving themselves more time than required.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s say you own a business.


You’ve 24 hours a day.

Sound good? Okay.

Out of which, let’s say, you sleep for 7 hours.

Now, you’ve 17 hours left to dedicate to your business.

Here is where one may fall into the trap:

When we think we have more time in hand, we tend to do our work in such a way that we consume all the available time.

So the more time here leads to less productivity.

I just explained Parkinson’s law here with a little example.

Parkinson’s law states:

“Our consumption of a resource expands to meet its supply.”

So if you have more money, you’ll spend more.

If you have less time, you’ll spend less.

See the logic? Great.

Your goal as a business owner should be to free as much time as possible by delegating the tasks to your team.

We’ll talk about all that later in this summary.

For now, remember:

Limit the time you give yourself to do any task in your business.

By doing this, you’ll do more focused work.

You should note that what you think is helping you might be the same thing that’s holding you back.

Your beliefs about what you think of as hard work will be broken by the end of this summary.

For most business owners, their mindset is the biggest problem.

And it keeps their business stuck.

Free your time!

The time saved here can be used to think about scaling your business.

Or do any other meaningful thing in your life.

(More on this later.)

Keep reading to learn more!

Key idea #2: Shift from ‘Doer Mode’ to ‘Designer Mode’ in your Business

What do ‘Doer Mode’ and ‘Designer Mode’ even mean?

Don’t worry. Let’s break things down step-by-step.

You are in the ‘Doer’ mode when you are the main guy doing everything in your business.

Here is how to know:

  • You don’t have an excellent team to delegate your tasks.
  • Every action you take affects your business.
  • If you push yourself, your business improves.
  • When you take a break, your business slows down.

Those are the symptoms of being in the ‘Doer’ mode.

In short:

Your business depends entirely on you.

If you stop working, your business halts.

When you are in the ‘Designer’ mode, you do the management part.

Here is how to check:

  • You can go on a vacation anytime.
  • You have a team that does most of the work.
  • You are the top-level guy.
  • Your business works on automation.
  • You can choose how to spend your time.
  • You can design your business according to your vision.

Why does a business owner need to shift his mindset from a doer to a designer?

Let’s talk again about the definition of a clockwork business.

A clockwork business is a well-oiled machine capable of working without you and is highly scalable.

To better understand this, you need to understand the 4 Ds discussed by the author.

Which are:

  • Doing. In this phase, you are doing everything by yourself.
  • Deciding. In this phase, you hire a team of freelancers and assign tasks. You decide!
  • Delegating. In this phase, you give the responsibility to your team.
  • Designing. In this phase, you become free and oversee your business while your team does all the work.

The author says that only by passing through these phases, by becoming a designer, will you be able to make an impact on your business. 

And decide for yourselves.

When you become a designer, you no longer remain a slave to your business.

You get the ability to invest your time in things that help you scale your business and pursue your dreams or vision.

The thing is:

As long as you are the only one doing business, it’d be impossible to scale it exponentially.

Designing is hard work.

So most people choose to keep working hard as an escape to avoid all that thinking.

That’s the reason most business owners never make a shift from being a Doer to a Designer.

Don’t make that mistake!

Key Idea #3: Everything you do in your business should serve QBR

First, we’ll discuss what the hell QBR means.

Then we’ll talk about why a business owner should think about protecting and serving it.

After that, how can all this help your business to scale rapidly?

So QBR = Queen Bee’s Role.

Ever looked at bee colonies?

There is always a queen bee that lays eggs that helps in the growth of the colonies.

What do other bees do?

They protect the queen bee and do other tasks that support the queen bee.

Here is the deal:

Protecting the queen is the primary thing that determines the colony’s growth.

If the queen bee dies, the colony won’t see growth.

Yes, the queen bee is that important.

After all, she lays eggs. You know the evolution, right?

Transferring the same concept to business:

Every business has a primary goal that determines how it’ll grow.

The author says that every task in your company must serve the QBR.

If you’re the only person managing everything in your business, don’t fill yourself with pride thinking you are the QBR.

The author clears the fact that QBR is always a task or function. A person can’t be the QBR.

A person can only deliver a task. But it can’t be the task himself.

Make sense? Great.

Put in simple words: 

If you fail to protect and serve your QBR, your business will suffer no matter how much effort you put in.

On the flip side, your business will grow rapidly if you focus on serving and protecting QBR.

Not only will you be able to grow it fast, but you’ll also make it much more profitable.

You’ll be able to delegate non-primary tasks to your team. Every task will then serve your QBR, thereby scaling your business.

Key Idea #4: Don’t be the only one serving the QBR

That’s the ultimate goal, right?

To reclaim freedom and be able to choose how to lead your business.

To stop grinding and pursue your vision.

To be able to take a vacation whenever you want.

To create a team that serves your QBR.

Here is the deal:

If you are the only one serving the QBR, you need to think.

You then need to think about how you can get rid of being in that position. To achieve that, you’ll need to hire a good team that serves your QBR while you handle the designing part.

But here is the catch:

Suppose you are someone who loves doing what he is doing. And if you think that by serving the QBR along with your team, you are living a meaningful life, you can continue serving the QBR.

If you want to be a One-Man show, it’s totally fine.

Getting rid of QBR doesn’t mean that you can’t ever serve it.

If you see it from a bigger perspective, it’s all about the choices you make.

There are lots of ifs and buts.

Putting simply:

If you want to create multiple businesses that run like clockwork, your goal should be to get rid of QBR as soon as you can. And make others serve it (directly or indirectly).

It looks like we talked a lot about QBR, huh?

Let’s get rid of this QBR thing and move on to our next key idea.

Which is:

Capturing and building systems in a business.

Keep reading!

Key Idea #5: Capture and build systems in your business

The author says that most entrepreneurs or business owners think they don’t have a system.

And they need to create one to scale their business.

But where do you get one?

Or how do you create systems?

The easiest way is to realize that you may already have a system in your head.

Yes, it’s possible.

You just need to capture it by documenting it.

If your business is brand new, you may be the lone wolf.

And if that’s the case, be a doer for some time.

How long? Until you become capable enough to hire people and delegate.

The best thing about developing systems is that your business becomes highly scalable. How?

Systems can be taught to other people and improved over time.

Then you don’t need to consider every doubt from your team personally.

That way, you get rid of annoying tasks in your business and reclaim your time.

Book Connection

If you didn’t read The Automatic Customer Summary, let me tell you that businesses with systems are highly sellable. You can sell it while you retire and get paid a lot for it. Cool, right?

Key Idea #6: Empower your employees to make decisions

The biggest pain of business owners is that they don’t quickly get perfect employees.

First, a business owner usually has the mindset that nobody knows his business better than him.

After all, he started it and grew it to a certain level.

And he fears that if he shifts the responsibility to other people, they may kill the progress of his business and do more harm than good.

Second, the process of hiring and training employees is a frustrating one.

It’s hard to transfer the exact vision to the employees and make them serve it.

Also, most employees don’t give a damn about the company and get a job to get a salary. They don’t get the job to fulfill the higher purpose.

All they want is a paycheck at the end of the month.

But if you never hire people, you’ll never be able to run your business like clockwork.

You need to delegate tasks.

And at one point, you’d want people to make their own decisions instead of asking you for little nuances.

Being humans, your employees would make mistakes.

When that happens, don’t fire them in an instant.

Allow your employees to learn from their mistakes. And guide them.

Remember that, in the initial days, you’ll be deciding for them (as the author says).

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t continue for a long time.

You’d want to train your employees and give them the responsibility to grow your business for you.

All of this may sound impossible.

But the author says that it’s possible to achieve.

If you’re someone who is stuck and grinding in your business, this may sound like a load of crap.

You may think:

“How would I grow my business if I do nothing?”

“Why would my team work for me while I sit and relax on a beach?”

The critical thing here is:

Once you build systems in your business, it gains the ability to run by itself.

Once you have the right people serving the right goals by following the right system, things get a lot easier.

On the flip side, if you don’t have any system in place, your business demands your attention.

It’s like having a kid who doesn’t know what to do. Once he learns and adapts, he doesn’t require the attention and care of his parents.

Your business is like your children, right?

So make sure that you are allowing it to grow by capturing and building proper systems.

And then teaching those same systems to your employees. (So that they may teach it to others.)

Key Idea #7: Measure Your Metrics

“What gets measured, gets managed.”


To measure your business, you have to measure your Metrics.

You would want to measure your metrics at specific stages.

For example:

Every business has to:

  • Attract
  • Engage
  • Convert
  • Delight

Look at each stage of your customer’s journey and measure your metrics.

Measuring your metrics helps you determine what you’re doing right and where you need to improve.

You’d also want to look at how efficient you and your team are while serving QBR.

Remember how vital QBR is for any business? Cool.

You should also measure elements in your business that are not serving your QBR.

And get rid of them if possible.

That way, you’d boost your efficiency or productivity.

The author recommends that you fix one problem at a time.


Because you may likely mess up another thing while fixing one, so fix one thing at a time. And keep things simple.

That’s the key!

You can’t avoid all this if you wish to build a clockwork business.

If you don’t measure your progress, you’ll never be able to grow your business.

Key Idea #8: Face the resistance

Here is the deal:

You’ll face resistance while building your path to freedom.

People won’t like it!

They will try to push back, the author says.

Not all of them – but most of them.


Because most people don’t like to change.

Building a clockwork business pushes you and your team to break their old beliefs and adopt new behaviors, which is hard initially.

Even for the business owner, it’s hard because thinking is hard work.

That’s the reason, the author says, people fall into traps. And fail to build a business that runs like a well-oiled machine.

There are usually two types of resistances:

  • Internal resistance
  • External resistance

Internal resistance is when your beliefs and thinking get in the way.

External resistance is when other people resist change and push you back.

You may need to fight both of these.

Once you overcome these, you get much closer to your freedom.

You enjoy your freedom while your company does the job for you.

Key Idea #9: Go on a 4-Week Vacation to test your business

Crazy, right?

Why would a business owner go on a 4-week vacation?

If you do everything according to what the author says in this book, you’ll be able to choose to do whatever you want, even when you are away from your business.

The author says that going on a vacation would allow you to test whether your business can run without you or not.

The very first time, when you’ll be away from your business, some problems may show up.

You’ll then need to fix those problems after your return.

Okay, let’s be realistic here.

Problems never go away. That’s the nature of life.

But you can do your best to get rid of common issues.

Later, you’ll need to recheck and redefine your strategy.

This is the last stage where you have the power to design or redesign your business.

Throughout this book summary, you saw all the different phases a business owner passes through while building a clockwork business.

The key takeaways from Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz Summary

Let’s recap the key ideas you learned in this summary:

  • Key Idea #1: Limit the work-time to be more productive
  • Key idea #2: Shift from ‘Doer Mode’ to ‘Designer Mode’ in your Business
  • Key Idea #3: Everything you do in your business should serve QBR
  • Key Idea #4: Don’t be the only one serving the QBR
  • Key Idea #5: Capture and build systems in your business
  • Key Idea #6: Empower your employees to make decisions
  • Key Idea #7: Measure Your Metrics
  • Key Idea #8: Face the resistance
  • Key Idea #9: Go on a 4-Week Vacation to test your business

Clockwork by Michalowicz Book Review

I enjoyed this book a lot.

The author was funny and didn’t sound like a serious grandpa who knows a lot about business.

I also like the author’s way of seeing a business as a designer and ultimately getting your company to do all the work while you oversee bigger things.

The idea of going on vacation was pretty surprising because most business owners would never think of that.

Going on a vacation would mean a loss of time and revenue.

I look upon building systems in my own business.

And suggest the same to you.

Hiring is painful. But it’s worth the effort as it allows you to build a business you love.

Not the business that forces you to grind and takes away all your dreams and happiness.

This book has instilled in me the desire to read other books similar to these.

I wish to publish more book summaries like this in the future.

Since I ordered the hardcover version of this book, it felt good in my hands.

The only negative point of this book is that it gets repetitive, just like many other non-fiction books.

There are a lot of interesting step-by-step techniques mentioned in this book.

I highly recommend that you read the book and learn more from it.

Now it’s your turn

That’s it for now.

I hope you enjoyed this summary and learned a lot from it.

Now you tell me:

What is holding you back from building a clockwork business?

I know, being a solopreneur myself, this journey is challenging and requires you to hustle.

But as the business grows, you should change and adopt new strategies to scale your business.

If you have achieved all this, please share a few tips in the comments section below.

And if you liked this summary, share it with someone who can enormously benefit from it.

Thanks in advance.

Shami Manohar

The Brain Behind

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

My mission is to educate and empower individuals with the knowledge that works in real life.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Consider supporting me in my mission:

I invest a lot of time, energy, and money in things like softwares, books, design, videos, artists, designers, etc., to provide you with this level of quality content at zero cost. If you love consuming my work and appreciate it, support me. This would help me provide even more value and help humanity grow. Every little penny counts.

Donate here

Become a channel member on YouTube

2 thoughts on “Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz Summary, Review, And Takeways”

Comments are closed.