The Pumpkin Plan – Mike Michalowicz

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There is something absolutely irresistible, something magnetic about being the extreme. Be it the strongest, or the fastest, or the most unique. The farmer with the most extraordinary pumpkin inthe field wins. Every. Single. Time.

The same is true for entrepreneurs. Yet most entrepreneurswork their tails off, only to end up with small, ordinary, unre-markable pumpkins. Compared to the giant pumpkin, the companies these struggling entrepreneurs grow are insignificant, so insignificant that customers often don’t see them, or squash them,or leave them to rot in the field without a second thought. To grow a successful business your company must be irresistibly magnetic. The average lose and are left to rot. It’s the most unique—the best—who win.

Turns out that they, of all people, hold the “secret formula”for big-time entrepreneurial success: plant hearty seeds, identify the most promising pumpkins, kill off the rest of the Vine, and nurture only the pumpkins with the biggest potential.

I tried to become Frank’s definition of an entrepreneur, which,I later learned, is the only definition of an entrepreneur: “You’re not an entrepreneur yet, Mike. Entrepreneurs don’t do most of thework. Entrepreneurs identify the problems, discover the opportunities and then build processes to allow other people and other things to do the work.

“List your Clients in order of revenue,” Frank told me. “Then, take your top-paying clients and separate them into two categories: great clients and everyone else, from the ho-hum clients to the clients who annoy you so much, you cringe when they call you. Keep the great, top paying clients, and cut the rest. Every single one.”

Bruce wears so many hats, he’s not only broke, he’s a freakin’mess-o-stress. No big shocker here— there is always a direct correlation between diluted focus and a diluted bank account.

Eric is making more money than most people in his field, and he has sustained a career in a highly-competitive industry he absolutely loves. This wouldn’t be a problem if Eric wasn’t perpetually working, missing out on time with his family, answering phone calls from clients 24-7. He’s become a slave to his business because it is a hundred percent dependent on him—his knowledge, his contacts, his unique approach to racing. Eric has falleninto the other trap—trading time for money. He’s maxed out. Hehas no balance, becoming more machine than man. The irony.  He’s just as stuck as Bruce is, only he makes more money.

When I asked Eric how he could scale his business he said,’When you figure it out, let me know.” Like so many one man bands, Eric believes his knowledge and skill set isn’t teachable, and if you can’t teach it, you can’t systematize it. And if you can’t systematize it, you can’t grow it. Period. If you’re making good money doing what you do, you can get stuck in the mindset that you’re the only person on the planet who can do what you do. Youb ecome blind to the trap you set for yourself.

You could argue a million ways to Sunday that the other computer guy is better than the Geek Squad. I should know; withOlmec l was the other computer guy . . . and l was better because I could handle more complex stuff. But my customers didn’t care. The customer doesn’t have years or decades to understand your craft the way you do. So as a customer, you look for the obviousand easy-to-understand differences. You make a decision, often, onless than one percent of the information, because you have to. Ifyou want to communicate your differences quickly to customers,change your label. Don’t cram yourself in with all the other guys.

Remember in the Introduction when I said this book holdsyour key to entrepreneurial liberation? Well, this is exactly the’aha’ moment you need to break free. If you’re finally going to stop working for your business, and instead have your business work for you, you must ensure that not one ounce of your deliverable—not one thing that the client experiences—depends on your doing it. When you achieve this, your main job becomes building repeat-able systems in order to ensure that every client has the same, theidentical experience, every time.

Nothing is constant except change. 

For example. we all know Walmart is a price leader. Price is their game. and they win Ilmoat every time. So what happened when they tried to get into the convenience game with their own online DVD rental service. intending to compete with Netflix and Blockbuster? They didn’t just lose; they bombed. In true WaI-Mart fashion, they undercut Netflix and Blockbuster“: monthly fee, but in less than two years they had only 300,000 subscribers. At the time, Netflix had ten times that (Blockbuster had just over 800,000 subscribers). And. Wal—Mart did not have the infrastructure in place to compete ono convenience—Netflix had more distribution centers, no they could deliver more DVDs to more people, faster than Wal-Mart. Even the mighty WalMart can’t compete in an area outside their core competency of cheap price. And you can’t either.