The Pumpkin Plan

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by Mike Michalowicz

Every year, one million new enterprises are launched in the United States, with roughly 80% of them failing within the first five years. Under such duress, it's easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in a never-ending loop of "sell it—do it, sell it—do it," leaving them fatigued, dissatisfied, and unable to advance no matter how hard they work. When Mike Michalowicz was trying to establish his first company, he found himself in exactly this predicament. Despite the fact that it was profitable, there was never much left over, and he was chasing consumers down every which way, working twenty-eight-hour days, eight days a week. The torturous grind continued unabated. His company was still alive, but it was suffering from malnutrition, and he was hardly breathing.

That's when he came across a surprising source of inspiration: pumpkin growers. Michalowicz realized the same technique could apply to building a business after reading an article about a local farmer who had dedicated his life to cultivating huge pumpkins. He put the Pumpkin Plan to the test on his own business and turned it into a multimillion-dollar industry leader. He began by doing it for himself. Then there are others. And now it's your turn. So, what exactly is the Pumpkin Strategy? Choose the correct seeds to plant: Don't waste time trying to impress your customers by doing a variety of things. Instead, figure out what you do better than anybody else and devotedly of your energy, money, and time to figuring out how to expand your business while doing it.

Weed out the losers: Small, rotten pumpkins inhibit the growth of the robust, healthy ones in a pumpkin patch. Customers are the same way. Determine which consumers add the greatest value and have the best prospects for long-term growth. Then get rid of the absolute worst. Develop the winners: When you've figured out who your greatest customers are, wow them with attention to detail. Discover their unmet requirements, come up with new waist meet their requests, and overdeliver on every promise.

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— Mike Michalowicz, The Pumpkin Plan