This being the last week of October, I thought it appropriate to talk about an interesting business book called The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. Mike talks about the serious science behind those who grow those truck-sized pumpkins. Apparently, there is a whole underground society bent on growing the biggest and best, and they have a very specific process for making that happen.
It’s about planting a certain kind of seed (a costly investment), removing anything that might pull energy from the emerging giant gourd (weeds and other pumpkins that aren’t quite up to par), and watering…lots and lots of water.
In his own unique style, Mike tells how a visit to a pumpkin patch and an encounter with one of these giants made him realize he needed to make some changes to his business in order to grow.
By all accounts, Mike was highly successful in business – to the tune of millions in income. He was dubbed successful by a prestigious organization. But he had a dirty little secret – his business was killing him. Literally, he was working every hour possible and the income, as large as it was, went right out the door in expenses.
About that time, he encountered the great pumpkin.
As he studied the process for growing them, he saw how applying those principles to his business could help him get off the hamster wheel.
One major factor – and, in fact, one of the first steps – was to determine his best clients. These were those who not only provided good income but also fit his best strengths as a technical service provider. He identified the 20% of his top clients who provided 80% of his income.
Then he looked at those who didn’t make the cut. There were some bad apples – those were easy to let go. He had a very diplomatic approach, but he did let them go. The loss in income was exceed by the relief and time burden it took to maintain this group.
Then he was faced with the hard decision – he had to cut many clients he DID like working with because they simply didn’t fit his ideal business model. This also meant a cut in income, which is counterintuitive, or so it seems.
This left his ideal clients. With the extra time he now had, he interviewed them to determine their challenges and establish a wish list. With just these clients to focus on now, he could afford to develop systems and services that served them even better. And guess what happened? They told their friends, who were just like them. His ideal clients cloned themselves!
By serving with such clarity of focus, Mike was able to generate even more income than before AND actually have a life. He was able to work proactively ON his business and not reactively IN it all the time.
One of my greatest joys is to help entrepreneurs very clearly define their strengths. It is foundational to their business success. Knowing your strengths gives you a gauge for every aspect of your work. Can you sum up your strengths in one sentence…or maybe even three words? You will KNOW if an opportunity fits if you know your strengths.
If you’re struggling in this area, contact me. I would absolutely love to help.