Will it Fly by Pat Flynn [Book Summary & PDF]

‘Will it Fly?' is a book for the budding entrepreneur, particularly one intending to use the Internet. The book attempts to answer the question and provide the means for finding the answer so that the embryonic tycoon can find out if his or her business idea will work. The book is very readable and is full of fascinating ideas based on the author's vast experience.

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INTRODUCTION

Who is this book for?

‘Will it Fly?' is a book for the budding entrepreneur, particularly one intending to use the Internet. The book attempts to answer the question and provide the means for finding the answer so that the embryonic tycoon can find out if his or her business idea will work. The book is very readable and is full of fascinating ideas based on the author's vast experience.

About the author

The author is Pat Flynn, a young man who is extremely interesting. He certainly walks the walk as well as talks the talk. He started as a salary paid architect but he used his experience of being made redundant to leverage himself into the first of his own online businesses. Frequently in the book, he emphasizes the value of a well-balanced life and backs this up by being a devoted family man with a wide range of interests.

In this summary

This book is in five parts. The first part is called Mission Design and has five chapters. The second part is The Development Lab and has four chapters. Part 3 is Flight Planning with five chapters and part 4 is The Flight Simulator with four chapters. There is a part 5, which is called All Systems Go and only has one chapter, which is chapter 19 Countdown.

BOOK SUMMARY

MISSION DESIGN

Considering Mission Design, the first chapter sets the scene for the rest of the book. The next two chapters require the reader to do some homework and write down information about them. You may ask why this is necessary. Flynn provides very strong justification for doing just this. Following this you are urged to find out what unfair advantage you have that will help you succeed in your venture then the first part finishes somewhat inspirationally.

Here are a couple of things Flynn suggests you do:

  • Examine yourself and write down what you want in five years
  • Review your past work experiences. What was good, bad?
  • What unfair advantage do you have that will help you succeed in your prosed venture?

THE DEVELOPMENT LAB

Now The Development Lab; the following words by the famous author, Sir Walter Scott, sets the stage for this part of this book,” I can give you a six-word formula for success: think things through-then follow through.”

Chapter 6 entitled Before you print your business cards is a warning about wasting time on names, logos, and websites before you flesh out what you are going to do. The next chapter called Germination is about mind maps and their great value in developing business ideas. This value is illustrated with a very good example, which is the mind map for the creation of a home office.

Flynn describes the use of post-it notes for mind mapping and also mind mapping software at Meister.com.  The mind mapping process is a quite simple 3 stage process:

  1. Start, where you basically brainstorm.
  2. Cleaning up where you organise the ideas.
  3. Pruning where you refine the ideas avoiding the feature creep of software.

In chapter 8, you are encouraged to refine your pruning practice, striving for one sentence to describe what is to be done. You need to examine the mind map you have created then summarise the ideas there in one page then one paragraph finally one sentence.

In chapter 9 called Conversation and Observation, the getting of feedback about the business idea is seen as very important. Seek the opinions of many people including those involved in the business in which you might venture. Don't waste too much time on negative comments.

FLIGHT PLANNING

The part called Flight planning is next. In this part, you are shown how to find out what your market is. He recommends starting small- you just have to be big in somebody's world. Maybe just focus on 1000 true fans. A true fan is someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. The riches are in the niches.

The 3 Ps

Find out as much as you can about the market. To this end, Flynn suggests a market map of what he calls the 3 P's. What is this? The 3 Ps is:

  • Places
  • People
  • Products.

He suggests creating a spreadsheet and using columns for each of these categories. Flynn very carefully shows you how to use the riches of the Internet to find out as much as you can about potential markets.

He suggests using search engines and looking for blogs, forums, social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also use YouTube and iTunes. Amazon is very useful. How to use these tools of the Internet to learn about your market is very important. He goes to great lengths to elegantly to show readers how to do this.

PLAN

Having identified and got used to the market is when you need to work out a Customer P L A N.

  • P stands for Problems.
  • L for Language.
  • A for Anecdotes.
  • N for Needs.

He suggests using another spreadsheet and tells you why each of these is important and how to fill your spreadsheet in a useful manner. Once you have completed this exercise, you are urged to try corresponding as far as you can with potential customers. Flynn shows very carefully how to use applications from the Internet to do this.

THE FLIGHT SIMULATOR

Having done this it is necessary to validate your business idea. This is part 4 and is called The Flight Simulator. This must be done on a small scale first. Most importantly, listen to others but trust your numbers. The test is whether people will buy your product. This is what he means by validation. Validation is probably the most important part of this book and what it aims for. This is the part where you end up asking people to part with money for what it is that you are offering.

Steps to take

There are a number of steps in validating and he runs through them carefully.

  1. Get in front of an audience. Flynn runs through the steps in order to get an audience, he considers targeted advertising, guest posts on blogs, forums, social media groups, off-line audiences, crowd-funding sites, and other methods.
  2. Hyper-target. What does this mean? Basically, getting people who may want your solution to identify themselves.
  3. Interact-Share your solution. You must interact with potential customers and show how you can help with your solution. Be careful as you do this.
  4. Transact. This is, for many, often the most difficult and unpleasant step because in this step you actually ask for money. Flynn runs over this thoroughly. He spends some time discussing the merits of preorders, where for a much-reduced price, people order something that is not yet available.

Communication

Communication with customers is important and should be done with both those interested in preorders as well as those who actually preorder or buy. Preorders are very useful in deciding whether to proceed on whether or not a minimum number of pre-orders are received.

There are great benefits from the validation process:

  • You receive extremely useful feedback.
  • You get the actual experience of sales.
  • Maybe you'll receive some money.
  • Validation provides motivation.

The book finishes some very interesting case studies, which are guaranteed to increase the enthusiasm and motivation of all would-be entrepreneurs.

CONCLUSION

Key takeaways

  • Don't waste time on trivia
  • Mind map your ideas
  • Refine your ideas
  • Seek the opinions of others, particularly those in your field
  • Don't dwell on negative comments
  • Don't be frightened to start small
  • When you start, focus on 1000 true fans
  • Use the riches of the Internet to find out as much as you can about potential markets, using the 3Ps
  • Work out a Customer P L A N
  • Correspond with potential customers
  • Be careful how you do this
  • Listen to others but trust your numbers
  • Validation is essential
  • Be aware of validation's 4 steps
  • Use preorders
  • Correspond with all customers (potential or real)

Further reading

If your interested in reading about testing an idea, check out The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. His book has two key themes: freedom and value. Freedom is what we’re all looking for, and value is the way to achieve it. The concept of having your own startup is the ultimate form of freedom according to Chris Guillebeau. He discusses different lessons on the road to beginning your own startup. With a focus on small ‘micro businesses' this book has plenty of tips and advice for every step of the journey.

Similarly, another great start-up read is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. A scientific methodology specifically for running startups and launching new products. A book I personally learnt a lot from.

The Third Wave by Steve Case is an insightful look into the future of startups and entrepreneurs in our ever-evolving technological world. Examining experiences from his own life, large global companies and recent stir-ups such as Uber, Case shares plenty of advice for those looking to achieve more and succeed in what he is calling ‘the third wave'.

Sprint is written by Jake Knapp with help from John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. These three have all been a big part of Google Ventures. Together, they have put together a guide for “solving big problems and testing new ideas in just five days”. You'll find useful start-up examples including those from Slack and Blue Bottle Coffee. Knapp, Zeratsky and Kowitz have put together a must-read checklist at the back of the book that will assist anyone on this problem-solving, idea-testing journey!

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