In this Mike Michalowicz starts with asking you to imagine that you are in the market for a pumpkin. Once your eyes caught a sight of an enormous pumpkin at the pumpkin patch. Not the “for sale” kind, but the one surrounded by velvet ropes and photographers.
Now imagine that pumpkin is your business; so large that the media takes notice, so successful that people travel miles to do business with you, and so inspiring that books are written about you.
Mike takes the strategy of growing world-record pumpkins and applies the same to principles of business in a commanding style.
The book talks about being different. Being unique is itself implies being appealing and magnetic. You don’t need to do more to be the best. You need to do the things differently.
The Pumpkin Plan is propelled vividly by Mike Michalowicz in seven steps.
STEP ONE: Identify your biggest natural strengths.
STEP TWO: Sell, sell, and sell.
STEP THREE: As your business grows, fire your small-time, rotten clients.
STEP FOUR: Never, ever let distractions take hold. Weed them out fast.
STEP FIVE: Remove the less promising clients and recognize your top clients.
STEP SIX: Focus your entire attention on your top clients. Nurture and protect them and find out what they want and provide the same if it aligns with your company’s goals. If possible, then replicate the same service or product for the rest of the top clients.
STEP SEVEN: Watch the humongous growth of your company.
Find the right seed
Don’t waste your time planting seeds that may or may not work.Then focus your attention, money, time and other resources on that niche until all of your entrepreneurial dreams come true.
Michalowicz correctly identifies, one of the biggest problems in small businesses is that– owners trying to please everyone. Small business owners sometimes take on projects that are outside their area of expertise. Michalowicz explains that you need to really define your area of expertise and don’t diverge from it ever. He describes this right seed as the sweet spot – the place where your best clients and the best part of your business meet. When you figure out the one thing that you do really well, it’s like the right pumpkin seed.
The author explicitly explains the essence of “Sweet spot”. It is the intersection of your top clients, your unique offering, and your ability to systematize it.
Entrepreneurs are one who identify the problems, discover the opportunities and then build processes to allow other people to get things done. They don’t do the work. If you want to grow a prize-winning pumpkin, you have to plant a prize-winning pumpkin seed. Therefore, focus on thinking prize winning business seeds.
Approach your customer
The Pumpkin Plan is not an “if you build it, they will come” kind of plan. This is a “build it, then build a paved road to your client’s door, then give them a luxury bus ride (while serving them breakfast using only the finest china) to your door” kind of plan.
A Pumpkin Planner’s success is not in having better answers but in asking better questions and defining the problem.
The key to humongous growth is to indulge in competition reasonably well. Ask yourself what is the one area of your business that you can dominate?
Your brain goes to work as soon as a it receives a question in the form of stimuli. Good, bad or indifferent. Be effective regarding your questions because it will determine the quality of your answer.
You cannot scale your business if you do most of the work. In fact, a Pumpkin Planned business require that you refrain from doing unnecessary tasks and focus on bull’s eye.
Take a minute to ponder at the possibility of this question in your business? Systems do not simplify the results rather systems simplify the process of getting there.
More is not better, people. Better is better. You need to shift your mindset away from the quantity game. You need to stop killing yourself for scraps.
You need to stop wasting so much time on the clients who are high maintenance, who never pay on time, the clients who always change the scope of the project, and the clients whose calls you dread. Every small business has clients who drain energy and use valuable resources with little or no return.
There are three types of clients mentioned below based upon their importance:
1. Good clients
2. Non-existent clients
3. Bad clients.
As George Carlin once said, “Anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster is a maniac.”
So just focus on forging relationships with the people who are going just your speed. Therefore the goal is to focus on your best clients.
Michalowicz also mentions some techniques to fire clients:
• Eliminate services
• Prioritize service calls (when good clients call they should get serviced first)
• Raise prices
• Refuse to two-time – explain that you have an agreement with a major client that prohibits you from servicing them.
These may sound harsh, but can be extremely beneficial.
The Tourniquet Technique
The beauty of the Pumpkin Plan is that once you kill off the diseased and unfit clients and shift your attention to your most promising clients, you have the opportunity to cut all expenses that don’t serve your top clients – everything from phone lines to parking spaces. It makes cutting expenses so much easier. You can see what has to go and because you’re trying to grow a massive, prize-winning pumpkin, you have the emotional leverage to get real with your P&L and stop the bleeding.
According to the author this is called the Tourniquet Technique.
Cash is the lifeblood of any business. Michalowicz talks a lot about how we are always waiting to land the next client. “This next one will change things.” But the problem is that if we land them, we run out and hire new staff, get a bigger office, a new show room, a new car. We spend what we earn be it plain and simple. But when we run out of cash, the trouble begins.
The Pumpkin Plan requires you to cut the expenses that are associated with the clients that you fired. Michalowicz gives few ideas to stop the bleeding. For instance, going through your profit and loss statement line by line is the most relevant. Taking a good hard look at every expense is the key. In addition, cutting staff, giving up the office, missing that national conference etc. Furthermore creating an org chart for each position is also valuable. This helps eliminate any confusion and helps establish roles and responsibilities
Once you’ve passed the early stages of entrepreneurship, success isn’t a quantity game anymore. It’s the quality of service/ product to your best clients.
Would you be willing to fire a majority of your clients?