As I have entered into a new entrepreneurial season in life, I have been eager to read as many books for first time business owners as possible. Though I have not yet begun a new company myself, I do have several friends and family members I am helping coach through the idea birthing process. As an organizational consultant and someone who has experience in starting nonprofit groups, I was pleased to see that this new book by Mike Michalowicz is more than just a series of mantras and fads, but rather offers a recipe for starting and sustaining an effective business with strategy.
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field presents seven surefire steps to grow a large and even legendary, company. Using the metaphor of a giant pumpkin farmer, Mike teachers entrepreneurs how to 1) Identify and leverage their biggest, natural strengths, 2) Sell, sell, sell, 3) Fire rotten clients, 4) Discern opportunities as distractions that need weeding, 5) Cater to your top, most promising customers, 6) Nurture the biggest and best products, services, and clients, and 7) Watch and enjoy your company’s growth to giant size.
The thing I like most about Mike’s writing is that he speaks with a convincing and convicting truth that can only come through the trenches. He is not shy about stating the hardships and dirtiness that accompany planting and maintaining your own business, but is also optimistic in sharing the wisdom that has helped him launch three multimillion dollar businesses, from the ground up. Instead of writing like a MBA professor, Mike sounds more like a frat boy with the determination to make it in the real world. Clearly he has. Some of his language can be crude if you’re use to uptight management books, but I enjoyed the rawness of his talk, as I have learned that same grit and tenacity are two key qualities of successful entrepreneurs.
Though the principles presented aren’t necessarily “new” the format in which they are explained will certainly reach a different type of audience, eager to begin their new business. Planting the right seeds, know when to water and weed, assessing the vine, and celebrating the harvest are essential steps to grow any organization.
One of my favorite reoccurring stories is a quote Mike received by Frank, his sage mentor, “Entrepreneurs identify the problems, discover the opportunities, and then build process to allow other people, and other things, to get it done” (p. 12). In addition to the seven steps, Mike presents examples at the end of each chapter with ideas on “How to Pumpkin Plan Your Industry”, sharing inspiring stories from his own experiences as well as others.