Summary of Will It Fly by Pat Flynn

  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:September 18, 2023

Summary: 11 min

Book reading time: 4h29

Score: 9/10

Book published in: 2016

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  • Don’t build something before you know if people will buy it. It is a waste of time and money.
  • Build a company that fulfills your lifestyle goals.
  • A company should solve a problem.
  • Look online for problems people have then sell them the solution before you build the company.
  • Only when you sold the solution can you start building it.

Table of Contents

What Will It Fly Talks About

Will it Fly is a book written by the online marketer Pat Flynn. It’s a book explaining how you can validate a business idea before spending money building it. I learned that “if you build it, they will come” is a fantasy. You need to build your product AFTER you made a sale, not before. If you follow what the book says, your business will work out for sure.

Will It Fly is a good book, detailed, interesting.

It’s one of the best books out there on market research.


Buy the book here.

Summary of Will it Fly Written by Patt Flynn


People that fail to make money with their product or service fail for two reasons.

  1. They focus on making money over serving people.
  2. They rush into it.

So don’t rush. Haste almost always ends up costing you time and money.

To really know if a business idea is going to work in real life, interest from potential customers is not enough. You need a transaction (someone paying you money for the product/service, or at least, pre-ordering).

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

Entrepreneurship is much more than just products and services.

This is why investors increasingly focus on people that make the product, and less on the product itself.

It’s when your business idea supports your lifestyle goal that it becomes worth exploring more.

As such, you should only build businesses that fit your desired lifestyle.

Looking at how your idea will support your market means nothing if the idea doesn’t support you first.

As such, this is the first test you will pass to see if your business idea will fly.

It’s called the airport test.

Part 1: Three Tests to Test Yourself

The Airport Test

Imagine you are at the airport 5 years from now and you are living your best life.

How does this life look like?

What do you?

Suddenly, someone taps on your shoulder, and you recognize an old friend.
“How is it going, he asks.
– Amazing, you answer. Here’s why. My business, which does xyz, is amazing because…”.

If your business idea does not support the amazing life you have five years from now, don’t do it. If it does support you…then that’s the first positive sign.

How to do the airport test exercise:
Take a sheet of paper, fold it into two parts to make four rectangles. Each of these represents one category in your life. You need to find out the four most important categories in your life. These are the four most important things.

The author’s categories are finances, health, family, professional. Find yours.

Write them down at the top of the sheet. Now write down as many things as you can in these four categories that would be happening in five years so that your life is amazing.

That’s your life. How does the business idea that you have fit with this ideal life?

The History Test

In this test, you will write down on a sheet of paper all of the jobs you have had since your very first one. We will find out about the patterns that will tell us about the things you like, and the things you don’t.

STEP 1: The what: write down the first job you got.
STEP 2: The when: write down when you did it
STEP 3: The good: write down three things you enjoyed about doing that
STEP 4: Your favorite memory: write it down
STEP 5: The bad: what didn’t you like about it
STEP 6: Grade it based on what you wrote above.

Do this exercise for two or three more experiences you have done.

Now, take a look and see if you can identify any patterns in what you liked or didn’t like.

Then ask yourself these questions:

1. What one or two things seem to motivate you the most about the work that you do?
2. How much is your answer to the question above reflected in what you do now?
3. How can your future business be shaped into one that allows you to enjoy your work and continue to stay motivated?

The Shark Bait Test

Imagine you go to Shark Tank. One of the judges asks you “I can hire someone to do what you do. So why should I be going with you? What makes you special?”

Think about your unfair advantage, that thing you can do but that not many people can do.

Building a successful business is no longer about B2B or B2C, but about P2P: person-to-person.

Part 2: Tests To Test Your Idea

Let’s Create A Mind Map

Take post-its and write down on each post-it as many ideas as possible related to your business idea. For example, if your business idea is a restaurant, write “pizzeria”, “classic decoration”, “San Pellegrino”, etc.

Once it’s done, group ideas with each other so that they go together in the same group.

Then, take off the bad and low-quality ideas.

Now, looking at the rest of the post-its that you have, summarize in one sentence what you are trying to do. If you can’t do one sentence, summarize your idea on one page (400-500 words). Then make one paragraph out of this. Then one sentence.

Then go into the world, and have conversations about your idea with as many people as possible.

Negative feedback is part of the process. It’s the universe testing you to see if you’re cut out for your idea. As long as you don’t stop, you are cut out.

How to get someone to give you feedback for your idea: go to Starbucks; buy coffee to whoever is in the line with you if they agree to have a short conversation about your idea in exchange.

Make your mind map. Photo by Husniati Salma on Unsplash

Part 3: Tests To Test Your Audience

The riches are the niches. Don’t go change everyone’s world. Change one person’s world. Then grow it from thereon.

The more you narrow your niche, the more you can serve your customers, the more they will connect with you, the less competition you will have.

Ever heard the saying “think outside of the box”. Well, to do that, you must first conceptualize the box. In our case, you need to understand the market you are into (the companies, people, problems, and services that are there, or, “the box”).

To do that, we will make a market map.

When people make a market map, they usually quit on their idea afterwards for two reasons.

  1. They are afraid to fail.
  2. They realize someone else is already doing what they intended to do. This is not a problem! In fact, it’s great! Someone has already done the heavy lifting for you.

Creating A Market Map

A market map rests on the three “Ps”:

– Product: the products/services sold in the market you are focused on.
– People: your target
– Places: where your target hangs out online.

Open Google Sheet or Excel. Make three spreadsheets: one for Products, one for People, and one for Places. Each spreadsheet should have three columns “Name, Web Address, and Notes”.

Places: Where Your Customers Hang Out

Find the top blogs in your niche. That enables you to access communities, the owner of the site, and if it’s up to date, you know what’s hot, and what’s not in the market.

To filter for blogs, search specifically in Google for “blog: whateveryournicheis”.

Fill up the interesting blogs in your spreadsheet.

Now, look for forums.

Now, look for groups on social media, like Fb, Linkedin, IG, and Reddit.

People: Influencers, Entrepreneurs, Etc

Look at the top social media profile (Fb, Twitter, IG, Youtube, iTunes) of people present in your niche.

If you intend on becoming one of those people, Twitter is best to start with on social media because you can build an audience much faster than otherwise. Use Twitter advanced search options to find more interesting people, or what people are talking about.

Afterwards, look for podcasts on Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes, etc.

Products: Products, Services, And Books That Exist In Your Niche

To find products in your niche, type your keywords in the first commercial search engine: Amazon. Write it down in your spreadsheets. Also, look at the books, and write down the name of the authors in the People spreadsheet.

Make sure that the top products are actually good by searching for reviews in the forums you took notes of.

If you can’t find anything, type in your keyword into Google and look at the products advertised on the search page.

The Customer P.L.A.N.

The ironic part about building a successful business for yourself is that it isn’t about you at all. It’s about your customers.

Your customer plan is your customer avatar. It is broken down into four sections: Problems, language, Anecdotes, and Needs.

Get an excel sheet and make four columns.


A business is a solution to a problem.

The better you handle the pain, the more successful you are. When you extract the pain directly to fix it (not realizing an idea you have but instead looking for a problem in the world and fix it), the marketing handles itself…by itself.

The best to identify problems is to talk directly to your potential customers. Ask them the following questions:

  • What are you frustrated about?
  • If you had a magic wand and could change something related to your business, what would it be?
  • What are the problems costing you the most at the moment?
  • What takes you the most time?
  • Do you use anything that already helps you with it? What do you like about it? And what don’t you like?
  • What is something you have to do all over again all the time?

If you can’t talk to people one-to-one, do surveys. Read the book Ask by Ryan Levesque.

Create a survey and send it to people you collected the address email from (search on the internet for email addresses of potential customers). Try to send the survey to about 250 people.

Send a first email. After a week, send a reminder to people that did not respond.

As you collect answers from people, add important words to the “language” column of the spreadsheet.


The words they use to share their pain and struggle, aspirations, and goals. The three types of words you should focus on are:

  • Questions: what questions are they asking? You can find that out on forums. Google can actually search exclusively in that forum. If you are searching for book summaries, for example, you can just search for the keyword “book summary” followed by “” to search only on that website. Type in the Google search bar:
image 31
Search only on

Record the questions people are asking in the spreadsheet.

  • Complaints: what are they complaining about? You can search for complaints in forums, or in blogs through Google. Or also on Amazon, in the reviews section.
  • Keywords: what are the keywords they are using? To find keywords, you can use keywords finding tools, or you can simply search for the keyword on Google. To do so, do a Google search, then go down the page, and see Google’s proposed “related search”.


Anectodes are common stories your customers go through. When you understand these stories, you understand your customers.

The best way to get stories is to ask people to tell you directly. Otherwise, you can search with Google in forums, with these keywords in the search bar:
“amazing story”
“great story”
“awesome story”
“good story”
“tell you a story”
“one time I was”
“I remember when”
“share a story”
“happened to me”
“I figured it out”

Another way is to listen to podcasts.


Now that your market research has been thorough, you can finally take care of the needs. Write all of the needs you have identified down in your column.

To solve needs, you need elixirs, which are the solutions to the needs.


Add into your sheet another column called “elixir”, and solve all of the problems and needs you have encountered.

Now, choose one problem to fix. Just one. You can’t fix everything at the same time, so just choose one problem/need to fix.

If you can’t, then first eliminate the problems that don’t seem exciting enough to fix, and end with the best ones. It’s important you choose one problem, not three or four.

Once you got your idea, sit on it for a day. Then conduct a second mind-mapping. After ten minutes, remove whatever doesn’t fix the problem you chose.

Then do the whole one page, one paragraph, one sentence thing again.

Part 4: Flight Simulator or How to Make Sure Your Idea Will Work

Don’t build a business based on people telling you they’d use what you make.

You need to SELL them the solution first – as it is the ultimate proof.

What people say and do is completely different, so listen to others, sure, but TRUST the numbers – the sales.

Before actually building your product, you need to get some sales or at least, some pre-orders.

Set up a landing page, some Google or FB ads, and sell your service/product.

If you don’t have it yet, refund people when they buy (because you have nothing to sell them) and track all of your numbers (people that clicked on your ad, people that bought, etc).

“If you build it, they will come” is a fantasy. You need to build AFTER they came.

So, here’s how validation works:

Step 1: Get in front of an audience
Step 2: Hyper-target
Step 3: Interact and share your solution
Step 4: Ask for the transaction

Step 1: Audience

Have an email list. If you don’t have an email list, then do targeted ads (Google ads, FB ads, IG ads, YT ads, etc).

The next idea is to place an ad on a website where you know your target hangs out (you already have the list).

The next idea is to guest post (writing a post on a blog that isn’t yours), providing value for the people who have the problem you hope to fix. Or you can write a post on a forum, or in Fb and Linkedin groups. You can also get speaking gigs at conferences.

Finally, you can also use a crowdfunding platform.

Step 2: Hyper-Target

Now that you are in front of your audience, you need to identify who needs your product.

A comment on your blog post usually is proof someone is interested. A click on a link is another one. Getting people to download something, subscribing, etc are manifestations of someone’s interest.

Step 3: Interact And Share Your Solution

Once you found the people willing to buy, you can interact with them and see if they’d be likely to buy whatever that is you want to build and sell. Here’s how, from most effective, to least effective:

– Ask in person
– Ask in a video call
– A phone call
– A private message
– A direct one-on-one email

If you have an audience:

– Organize a live stream or webinar with chat functionality. Give value for 30 minutes, then open a registration form where people can pre-order or buy your product.
– A live stream or webinar without chat functionality
– An email broadcast
– A web page with an explainer video
– A web page with text and images only

Before you present your idea, there are three things you need to do first:

1. Get to know whoever you are asking first. People love to talk about themselves.
2. Qualify yourself.
3. Be honest about the outcome: you want their honest feedback about a solution you are working on that could solve their problems and that you are willing to pre-sell.

Step 4: Ask For the Transaction

Once you have people verbally telling you they are interested, then it’s time to see if they’d like to buy.

If you’re doing Step 3 face-to-face, collect the email of the person and send them an email where they can pre-order the product (use Gumroad or Celery for pre-orders). If you are doing so in a webinar, open a registration page. If you got emails through an email list, then send them the link with your landing page, or whatever you are using to get people to pay.

It’s not easy to ask people for money. As such, you need to explain to them that you really want to build that solution/product but you need to make sure people actually need it first. You need to make sure they didn’t say “yes, it’s nice” out of politeness, so you are asking for a minimum number of X pre-sales before you build.

Let people know that if you don’t get enough pre-sales, people won’t be charged.

How to collect pre-orders?
Use Gumroad. Celery ( is another platform you can use. Always keep in contact with people that pre-ordered, send them weekly or bi-weekly emails.

Your minimum sign-up rate should be 10%. If you talk to a hundred people, you should get 10 pre-orders or orders.


1. Split your project into smaller parts. It’s nicer for your mind to complete 100% of a chapter instead of 10% of a book.
2. Get help: hire people when you need to
3. Treat your customers like gold
4. Remember why you do all this
5. Enjoy the ride

It’s important to highlight that if you start with an initial idea, then you should do all of the steps as highlighted in the book to test it.

However there is a better and easier way to build a business.

Don’t come up with an idea, go get it directly.

Ask people about their problems, look on the Internet for pains in various industries, etc.

When people have a problem and you come up with a solution directly, you won’t have to make much effort to sell your product.

Did you enjoy the summary? Buy the book now.

You can also find Pat Flynn on his blog.

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