Without stating it in the beginning of The Pumpkin Plan, (Amazon) what Mike is really talking about is the 80/20 rule.
Using it to focus in on the levers that provide the most results.
Instead of trying to do everything with everyone. Which leads to burnout.
Being different attracts attention. Mike uses a story of walking around a pumpkin patch. Each one looks similar and nothing really "wows" you. Ordinary pumpkins are forgotten. Until, you come across a mega-huge pumpkin!
The one where they need a forklift to move it around and airplane wheel chocks to stop it from rolling over people. Ending up as legends that are on YouTube and postcards.
Mike discovered that the process to growing these giant man-eating pumpkins is the same as growing successful businesses:
- Plant promising seeds that you know have the best chance of making it
- ID the most promising pumpkins
- Kill off the rest of the vine, weed like you have OCD
- Leave only one pumpkin on each vine
- Nurture ONLY the ones with the biggest potential
This more specifically translates to:
- Figure out your biggest natural strengths and leverage them
- Your most promising seed is where your best clients and the best part of your business meet
- While growing fire the rotten small clients - stop focusing on quantity
- Keep weeds (new opportunities) from distracting you
- Remove more less-pormising clients
- Focus all attention on the top. Ask them questions on what they want from your industry, and if its something that aligns with your top strengths...provide it to them. Then replicate that same system with another client of the same characteristics
- Grow to giant man-eater status
This is the path to growing something amazing, that could change the quality of your life, and make a difference in the world. Rather than being another ordinary pumpkin that is forgotten once its time has past.
The mistake most people make is doing too much. The real entrepreneur is someone who identifies problems, finds opportunities, then builds processes that allow other people and systems to do the actual work. Instead of relying on them to do it.
Pumpkins have strong root systems. We get great answers when we ask great questions.
Once you start repeatedly asking yourself these mega-life-changing questions your brain will start to work on the answers. So make sure the mental pattern in your head is "how can I make $2,000 every day, versus.. why can I never get ahead?".
Start asking questions:
- Who are your best/worst customers
- How could we serve the best customers better (Ask them what concerns, wish where different, aspirations, challenges, goals, frustrates you about my industry?) Keep mining if you don't strike gold right away. Learn more about them beyond what you initially solve.
- How can you turn your customers frustrations into solutions. When you start to hear the customer ask when this solution will be ready... you're on to something
- How can you create built-in loyalty
- How do you stand out from the crowd (niche down into a space you own)
- Does your business name identify with customers needs
- How can you under-promise and over-deliver (this strategy alone will give you a massive advantage over 80% of your competition)
These are enabling questions and answers.
Have awareness around your internal monkey mind. Ask yourself bigger and better questions. Then, you'll get bigger and better results.
When a business is struggling we go through stages
- Deny the struggle
- Stress becomes a fact of life
- You are broken by defeat
Most owners think they are one deal away from all their problems being solved. And afraid to make the changes necessary.
The changes that will make you an industry leader, sound systems, and focus on the one thing you are awesome at doing.
Don't try and fix what isn't working. Just get rid of it.
To get a model of your ideal clients. Look at your best friends.
Your unique offering is how you approach delivering your service/product. Your talents, experience, and abilities that come along with your big idea.
Creating a masterpiece of mojo and know-how that is not copyable.
Your numero-uno strength is something you deeply love.. brings you to your happy place. You don't have to force yourself to do it. You miss doing it when you're spread too thin.
Combine that with your business experience and life... and BOOM that's how you're different.
Keep in mind systemtimization. If other people can't do the work, then you're trading hours for dollars.
More is not better, people. Better is better.
Quantity is not the game you want to be in.
You have to make space for the good to come in.
Here's how you find your top clients:
- List according to revenue
- Cross out the ones you don't like working with
- Look at additional factors like repeat business, enjoy working with, opens up new opportunities, sends referrals
If you sell products to tons of different customers look at revenue/profit.
To start weeding. Just focus on the very worst of weeds. Let the ones in the middle stay. As they may grow into a client your want to keep, or they may become a giant weed worth starting on fire.
Raising prices may get rid of weeds.
Really focus on the top clients and how to serve them instead of trying to figure out how to work less and grow the business. These will be natural byproducts of the former.
You can't just try and pull in new top clients on the side. While keeping your crappy weeds. You must pull those suckers out to have the time and energy available to nurture the big guys.
Cash is the king of your business. Start looking at expenses and thinking if it serves your best clients..best. If it doesn't get rid of it.
Play favorites with the top clients. Making everyone #1 is not going to work. Don't completely ignore the middle clients, but give the top a VIP line (although don't them them they are VIP. It's just standard operating procedures).
The key to super growth is being competitive in all areas of your business, but destroying them in one category.
The Pumpkin Plan Client Questions:
- What complaints do you have about my industry
- What would you change
- What is your biggest challenge
- What would need to change to make things easier on you
- What would you like to complete in the near future
- Where do you/your project hope to be down the road in 5/10/20 years
- How could things be tweaked to better suit your needs
- What is the most confusing thing about my industry
- What do you wish businesses in my industry would offer
Do not promise that you will solve any of these.. you're just looking for info/ideas on ways to serve them better.
Set them up as the authority. You want to pick their brain and ask for advice. Make sure they know you're not trying to sell them on your brilliant network marketing scheme.
Make them feel important.
Never ask direct questions about your businesses performance. Putting them on the spot.
Just let them speak whatever is in that little golden noggin of theirs.
What are the commonalities in the answers?
Is there are way you can solve the problem profitably? If yes.. you just struck gold my friend.
When you come up with a solution. Talk to these people again. See what they have to say about it.
Keep track of the responses.
If enough interest create what they want, and involve them in the process of creating it.
Maybe even have the bravado to ask for a non-refundable deposit to get them to commit to the process.
Only make a limited amount at first. Which goes to the backers to make them feel special.
Over deliver on what is promised.
Your company name is everything. It will seperate you from your competition.
Think.. instead of computer guys... Best Buy's Geek Squad. The geeky, nerdy computer experts that also align with unique presentation.
Most customers are not experts, and will not be able to discern why one computer guy is better than the other. But if you are noticeably different in a way that matters to the customer.. then you are golden.
Now that you have your top clients and your like best friends. It is possible that if they get you, and you get them, they might also have other vendors that are the same.
Ask - Besides me... who is critical to your business and someone you really like?
You want to align your work with other vendors work to serve the customer better.
When you get a list.. then ask... which do you depend on the most?
You call up the vendor.
Say client referred and you hope to get some advice on how you should be working to make their work easier. Which will result in a better result for the client.
After you under-promise and over-deliver you then can tap the well of other clients of this vendor.
You're not a competitor to them and you are showing them you have a proven track record.
Build systems that allow other people to carry out The Pumpkin Plan without you.
Make it super-simple. Like airline safety card simple.
Have your people answer three questions that will help them make decisions on their own:
- Are top clients served by this?
- Is our area of innovation maintained or improved by this?
- How is our profitability affected?
Ask them in order, and if they cannot give a HELL YEAH.. then don't do whatever they are thinking of.
If it is a HELL YEAH... then no need to consult with you, just let them do it.
Planning on doing this with a business thats niche is something like backyard ideas. Once seeds are planted I will stick to The Pumpkin Plan method. Pulling out weeds and watering the giants. Maybe even reinvent the business based on what I find.
Lets see if all these crazy farmer ideas work out! 🙂