The Pumpkin Plan: 7 Steps to Grow Your Business Fast
Over 1 million new businesses were started in 2020, and a staggering 80% of those businesses will fail within 5 years. That is a statistic that is hard to wrap your brain around. An 80% failure rate. I’m excited to introduce you to a book and a concept called, “The Pumpkin Plan: 7 Steps to Grow your Business Fast”.
I recently came across this book that I read back in 2014. I still believe is one of the best business books on the market, because it teaches you focus. The book, “The Pumpkin Plan” was written by Michael Michalowicz. It lays out a simple strategy to grow a remarkable business in any field including real estate investing.
This author has written a few more books since 2014 and you’re sure to recognize some of them.
- Profit First
- Fix this Next
In “The Pumpkin Plan”, he talks about some powerful concepts but there is one that is known to almost every entrepreneur. That is no matter what business they are in, entrepreneurs, more often than not, reach a point where they are worn down, facing burn out and are likely to be overwhelmed most of the time. This is particularly true in those first critical years when you are trying to get your business off the ground.
This is where Michael Michalowicz found himself. He was working long hours; he was completely worn out and in spite of bringing steady money in the door, he rarely had any left at the end of the month. He learned that in trying to please everyone, you often end up pleasing no one, and he knew he had to make a change.
Not niching down; trying to please everyone, is truly a recipe for disaster. -Sharon Vornholt
After that, something happened. One day Michael read an article about a local farmer who had spent his entire life growing giant pumpkins. You know — the ones that win the prizes in contests because they are huge. In that moment, after reading about the pumpkin farmer’s process for growing that one perfect pumpkin, he realized that anyone could use this same process to grow a remarkable business.
He went to work creating a “Pumpkin Plan” for his own business. Since then, he has grown multiple successful businesses using these effective strategies. So, what is the process?
The 7-step Process to Grow a Giant Pumpkin
- You have to plant the right seeds. (strategy)
- Water, water, water. You have to tend to your garden and nourish your pumpkin. (Your business isn’t going to grow itself)
- Remove all the diseased or damaged pumpkins from the vine. (when things go wrong, get rid of them and move on)
- Weed like crazy! (Get rid of the clutter – that might be in your mind. Single-handedly get rid of the weeds holding you back from growing an outstanding business)
- Remove all of the less promising pumpkins that are still on the vine. Put all your attention on the best one. (In the beginning, you might be tempted to try a little of this and a little of that – Strategies –
- Nurture your one special pumpkin. Put all your attention on this pumpkin; stand guard over your “baby.” (wholesaling)
- Watch it grow. Eventually, this will happen so fast you can actually watch it unfolding.
So, What Does this Have to Do with Real Estate?
This is a perfect analogy for focusing on just one thing or the big picture in your real estate investing business. Michael even has specific real estate examples in his book. Here’s a framework for applying this to your own business.
The 7-step Process for Pumpkin Planning your own Business.
- Focus like a farmer.
If you want to grow a really big pumpkin — or a really successful business — you have to focus like a farmer.
- Identify and leverage your biggest strengths. Stop doing things that don’t come naturally. Let someone else do those things. A farmer would also need the right equipment. A real estate investor would need the right systems, software etc.
- Sell, sell, sell.
Figure out where you want to be positioned in your market, and this goes back to branding. Remember that I always say you have to position yourself the way you want other people to see you. It’s up to you to create your brand. Let’s talk about positioning.
- Are you the cheap guy?
(It’s never a good idea to compete on price.) You will never get ahead of the “Jet Blues’” and the “Southwests’” by competing on price alone.
There will always be a sale, a discount, or a 2-for-1 special with these folks. Trying to compete on price alone will leave you with low profit margins.
- Are you the luxury brand?
Trying to be a “Mercedes” or “Virgin Atlantic” is tough too. You will always have to invest a lot of money in your business to stay on top of the luxury brand, and there will always be someone on your heels trying to knock you out of that #1 position. Whenever you think you have finally nailed it, it will be no time at all until one of your luxury brand competitors will be one step ahead of you.
- Are you the best overall solution to your target market’s problem?
This is a good place to be! This is the place most folks can build an outstanding business
The other part of this has to do with your customer service and having exceptional customer experience skills. Learn how to do this and you can be better than just about everyone else. Most companies are just getting by when it comes to their offerings and their customer service. How can you create a memorable experience?
- Fire all your rotten clients.
Yes, this can be painful when you really need a paycheck this week, but it’s necessary.
- In real estate that might mean passing on deals that aren’t right for your business. Maybe it’s no longer working with the wholesaler that is difficult to work with. It might be firing a really good contractor (when it comes to the quality of his work), however he promises things he never delivers on.
- Don’t be blinded by “shiny object syndrome.”
Don’t let things disguised as new opportunities grab your attention.
- Stay focused on your giant pumpkin. Identify the one thing you want to be known for and do it exceptionally well. If you want to be known as the guy who turns out great rehabs in nice middle-class neighborhoods, don't confuse folks by buying property in the “hood.”
- Identify your top clients and focus all your attention on them.
Remove the rest of your less promising “pumpkins.” In real estate, find your niche and focus all your attention on those people or that niche in your business.
- Here’s an example. If you are a wholesaler and you have 5 or 6 cash buyers that always perform; they always do what they say they are going to do, forget about growing a big buyer’s list. Focus all your attention on these folks.
- Focus all your attention on your “one thing.”
- That might be rehabbing your properties to a level that makes them sell like hotcakes. Are you known as THAT rehabber? You will have agents practically lining up to show your properties.
- If you are a wholesaler, that might mean focusing all your attention on finding only the properties that the best buyers on your buyer’s list want. Sure, you might make a couple of bucks on a house in one of those less desirable neighborhoods, but then you can’t sell it to your top buyers, and you have to waste a lot of time finding a buyer the hard way.
- If you are a landlord, focus on finding properties in the best areas that will attract the best tenants.
- The same could be said for strategies. If you are a rehabber, resist the urge to jump into another sideline until you have mastered your rehabbing. (land investing)
Whatever your “thing is”, focus on doing it better than everyone else.
- Watch your pumpkin grow to a giant size.
Here is the “secret sauce:
- Find out who your ideal client or customer is, exactly what it is that they want or need, and then do your best to give it to them. Once you know what this is, you can replicate the same process over and over.
Remember what I said earlier? You can’t be the perfect solution for everyone. You can, however, be the perfect solution for your perfect clients.
This is a great book with actionable steps that can be used in any business, but it really is perfect for real estate investors. If you haven’t read the Pumpkin Plan, I highly recommend you pick up a copy and start to “pumpkin plan” your business.
Have you read any great books lately?
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