In this post I'll cover what The Pumpkin Plan is all about and give you a punchy summary of the book so you can use its ideas for your business and decide whether you should go ahead and read the whole thing. All in X minutes. So strap in and let's get started.
What is The Pumpkin Plan about?
The Pumpkin Plan shares a philosophy about business and an opinionated take on how business should be approached.
First, the philosophy: Just as almost every pumpkin farmer grows ordinary Halloween carving pumpkins, most entrepreneurs grow ordinary, unremarkable businesses. However, business is not about pleasing everyone, business is about the intersection of your top clients, your unique offering and your ability to systemize it.
As an extension, that means entrepreneurs shouldn’t do most of the work, otherwise they’re not entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are responsible for identifying problems in the market, validating the opportunity, building a solution, finding customers and then putting in place processes that allow other people and other things to do the work.
By tweaking your approach in small ways, business owners can grow big, differentiated and profitable businesses that get all the attention of customers and the market.
Next, the opinionated take on how business should be approached. Keep reading the next section for the details.
What are the main ideas in The Pumpkin Plan?
Here is the approach to business The Pumpkin Plan suggests:
- Leverage your biggest natural strengths. You should only focus on one differentiator, quality, low prices or convenience. Pick one and double down on it.
- Identify your best and worst customers. You need to be clear on what makes a good customer, so you can identify your bad ones.
- Fire your worst customers. Your worst customers are a drain on resources while contributing very little in profit to your business. Put in place strategies to turn them into good customers, or have them remove themselves from your customer list.
- Review your expenses. Now that you have jettisoned your worst customers, you're left with only your best to support. Cut all costs that aren’t needed to support your new customer list.
- Optimize your workforce. Revisit your organizational chart based on the needs of your top customers and reconfigure your staff to support their needs.
- Identify VIP customers, your top 20%. Within your good customers, you’ll have a group that makes up your very best. Often it’s impractical to design your business for every customer, so focus on these VIPs.
- Ask VIP customers what they want. Talk to you VIPs and learn more about their problems and wish lists. Start finding patterns and identifying areas you can double down on.
- Design your product and service with VIP customers. Bring VIPs into the process of redesigning your business, products and service. Building their feedback into the process will create a better product, and they will be eager users once it’s ready.
- Ask your best customers for referrals. Your best customers are likely to know other customers who are just like them. Tapping up your top customers for referrals (in the right way) is an amazing way to grow and continue your momentum.
- Systemize your business. Your employees should be able to run the business without you. After every change, make sure systems and processes are put in place so that your employees need not depend on you to make decisions on their routine work.
Top quote from The Pumpkin Plan
“Don’t waste your time planting seeds that may or may not work. Plant the seed that you know has the very best chance of making it, and then focus your attention, money, time and other resources on that tight niche until all of your entrepreneurial dreams come true.”
How can The Pumpkin Plan help my business?
The Pumpkin Plan does not take the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy. It takes a much more practical “ask them what they want, build it, then build a paved road to your door, and a luxury ride to get there” type of philosophy.
It does this with a less is more approach, focusing on three questions:
- How often do you ask your top customers what they want?
- What is the one area of your business that you can dominate?
- What systems and processes are you building to support your business?
The key to explosive growth is focusing on top customers, competing reasonably well in every area your competition competes in, and then blowing them away in one category. Be “in the ballpark” for everything you do, except for one thing. For that one thing, swing for the fences.
The best way to do this is to ask top customers what they want, and focus on that.
Who should read The Pumpkin Plan?
While I usually narrow down a specific persona that would benefit from reading a book, I recommend The Pumpkin Plan for every business owner. No matter what industry you are in, whether small business or large, or whether you are just starting out or have decades of experience. Every business owner will get something of value from this book.
Reading the best small business books is a surefire way to improve your business knowledge and find ideas to bring back to your own business. If you want to build a better business, you should sign up to get my simple business improvement ideas that can grow your profits and improve your operations.