I’ve let my business get in a rut before, where I’m so busy pressing my nose to the grindstone, that when I look up, all I see is forest. I look right past those trees and finer details, take a deep breath and get back to work. And to be clear, it happens regularly.
I get caught up making money, not time.
‘The Pumpkin Plan’ by Mike Michalowicz focuses on priorities. Throughout the book, Michalowicz orbits that theme in a really smart, relatable way that makes *gasp* common sense. Amazing, right? Because common sense is not common.
From the dust jacket of ‘The Pumpkin Plan‘:
Each year Americans start one million new businesses, nearly 80 percent of which fail within the first five years. Under such pressure to stay alive—let alone grow—it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of “sell it—do it, sell it—do it” that leaves them exhausted, frustrated, and unable to get ahead no matter how hard they try.
This is the exact situation Mike Michalowicz found himself in when he was trying to grow his first company. Although it was making steady money, there was never very much left over and he was chasing customers left and right, putting in twenty-eight-hour days, eight days a week. The punishing grind never let up. His company was alive but stunted, and he was barely breathing. That’s when he discovered an unlikely source of inspiration—pumpkin farmers.
After reading an article about a local farmer who had dedicated his life to growing giant pumpkins, Michalowicz realized the same process could apply to growing a business. He tested the Pumpkin Plan on his own company and transformed it into a remarkable, multimillion-dollar industry leader. First he did it for himself. Then for others. And now you. So what is the Pumpkin Plan?
- Plant the right seeds: Don’t waste time doing a bunch of different things just to please your customers. Instead, identify the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it.
- Weed out the losers: In a pumpkin patch small, rotten pumpkins stunt the growth of the robust, healthy ones. The same is true of customers. Figure out which customers add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth. Then ditch the worst of the worst.
- Nurture the winners: Once you figure out who your best customers are, blow their minds with care. Discover their unfulfilled needs, innovate to make their wishes come true, and overdeliver on every single promise.
Full of stories of other successful entrepreneurs, The Pumpkin Plan guides you through unconventional strategies to help you build a truly profitable blue-ribbon company that is the best in its field.
It’s hard to recap better than that.
Someone in an entrepreneurial Facebook group recommended ‘The Pumpkin Plan’ when asked for business book recommendations. With no prior knowledge of the author, I gave it a shot. I like how easy the book is to read. I appreciate the exercises at the end of each chapter, and that I can keep reading without missing out. (I’m a voracious reader and dislike being interrupted with “work” mid-book.)
The book includes all the basics: who’s your ideal client, who do you work with now that aligns, who are your best and worst clients. Michalowicz also gives you scripts and ideas on how to leave behind the clients that aren’t the perfect pumpkins.
Michalowicz demands that entrepreneurs only work with their best clients and then put all their growing power behind those pumpkins. I really like that idea. ‘The Pumpkin Plan’ aligns with my slow and steady mantra and my belief in giving my few clients my imperfect best, focusing on quality over quantity. If these ideas resonate with you, too, ‘The Pumpkin Plan’ is very readable inspiration that may help you grow your perfect prize-winning pumpkin, too.
My favourite quotes from the book:
“I suffered from the ‘if only’ disease that plagues most mid-stage entrepreneurs. I kept thinking, ‘if only I could work harder’ or ‘if only I had an investor’ or ‘if only I could land one big client, I’d be living the dream.”
“Owning your own business will not automatically free you from the grind.”
“Your giant see is basically your sweet spot – the place where your best clients and the best part of your business meet.”
“Just like bad, rotten pumpkins suck out the nutrients from good pumpkins and stunt their growth, bad, rotten clients distract you, drain your resources and cost you money.”
I’ve said ‘if only I could work harder’. I’ve honestly wondered if I could just skip one night of sleep, how much more I could get done. This book has stuck with me in the months since reading it. I’ve thought of it often and realigned my thinking based on my immutable laws and priorities.
One of the steps I’ve taken is my morning walk. Instead of only going to the bus stop with the kids, the dog and I make a full tour. It makes a big difference in my mood all day, which influences my work in a positive way. In doing so, I see it’s my own misguided sense of duty, not my awesome clients, pushing me to my desk before 7:30 am.
There’s time to make money and time to step away from the desk – and I can grow a pretty big pumpkin while I’m at it.
If you’d like to take a peek at the book, you can download the first chapter for free from pumpkinplan.com.