Mike Michalowicz: How to Grow Your Business Like a Giant Pumpkin!
About twelve years ago I stumbled upon a genius formula for growing a remarkable, industry-dominating business. I found it in the unlikeliest of places: a pumpkin patch. Just in case your work schedule is wildly different then mine was (I suspect it is not), let me give you a sense for how hard I was working. I was working 25 hours a day, eight days a week to keep my moderately successful business going, when I read an article about how farmers grow those gigantic, prize-winning pumpkins you see on the local news every fall.
As I read the article, I realized the same process these “crazy” farmers use to grow their colossal forces of nature, could be used by entrepreneurs to grow wildly successful businesses. It was all right there in black and white… and orange.
I started applying the method to my own business and it took off. Once it was generating millions, I sold it to private equity. Then I did the process again, along with a partner, and grew a second multi-million dollar industry powerhouse. Which was acquired by a Fortune 500 in just over two years after we started it.
Here’s a brief overview of the growing strategy that (I write about it in my new book called The Pumpkin Plan), when implemented, will help you grow your business and secure its place as the leading company in your field:
Step One: Start With Promising Seeds
Prize-winning pumpkin farmers don’t plant the same tired old seeds every other pumpkin farmer uses to grow everyday carving pumpkins; instead they plant special seeds they know have the potential to grow as big as your car. Likewise, successful entrepreneurs never follow trends or the status quo; instead they plant their own promising “seed,” building a business that fits three parameters:
- Something they are passionate about.
- Something for which there is strong customer demand, and
- Something they can scale through systematization.
Step Two: Nurture the Strong and Discard the Weak
You wouldn’t know by looking at them, but those overall-wearin’, flatbed truck-drivin’ farmers are ruthless. To grow a gigantor pumpkin, they know they have to give all of their time and resources to the strongest few, and remove the weak and rotten plants from the vine. When I focused on attending to the needs, challenges and wishes of my best clients and similar prospects, and “let go” of my “weak” customers (those who distract, demand and disregard), my business grew by leaps and bounds. Fast.
Step Three: Develop Your Root System
The root system provides the steady stream of water and nutrients plants need to live. A few days without sun, and a plant will survive. A few days without the root system, and the plant is rotting in the field. For entrepreneurs, the “root system” is a steady referral source of new clients. Rather than ask for referrals from clients (which, if any, typically yields bad leads), the wildly successful entrepreneur generates leads through their clients’ complementary vendors. A growing network of complementary, industry-specific vendors is the strongest root system you can have.
Step Four: Prune and Weed
Farmers who grow extraordinary pumpkins are vigilant; the moment they spot a weed in their pumpkin patch, that sucker is out of there. Similarly, entrepreneurs who grow extraordinary businesses adhere to an almost maniacal “kill” strategy, removing “weak” or “rotten” clients from their roster. Often the weeds blocking an entrepreneur’s path to success are labeled as “opportunities,” but are really just distractions.
The “Pumpkin Plan” strategy I developed yields success more often than not. It also has the added benefit of helping you stay sane in the process. Because you see, when you grow a business around something you are passionate about, creating something others really want and that you are able to systematize (aka grow AND free up time), and then focus only on your best, most promising clients, you not only end up with a remarkably successful business at the end of “harvest season,” you get to have a life, too.
Mike Michalowicz is the author of The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He is a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurial topics and is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consultancy that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued.
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