63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
The "pumpkin plan" of the title comes from author Mike Michalowicz's encounters with champion pumpkin farmers. The process, he writes, involves planting promising seeds, watering them, and then removing all diseased or damaged pumpkins. "When they grow larger, identify the stronger, faster growing pumpkins. Then, remove all the less promising pumpkins. Repeat until you have one pumpkin on each vine." The farmers then focus all of their attention on the big pumpkin.
It's an arresting image, and Michalowicz does a good job of relating it to a business context. His "pumpkin plan" for business involves getting rid of all of your "bad" clients and focusing the vast majority of your attention on the highest value customers and prospects.
Unfortunately, the book doesn't dig deep enough. The author has a breezy, entertaining style that probably goes over very well in a keynote address or short seminar. But Michalowicz spend so much time and effort trying to come off as a "regular guy" - there is a disconcerting amount of slang and profanity - that he forgets to give the reader enough detail on how the process works - or evidence that it really does. There are a few anecdotes, along with several chapters that end with hypotheticals: "Let's pretend you're in a rock band - playing sort of a throwback to old-school punk rock - with breakout potential," begins one of these scenarios. Instead of pretending, Michalowicz's case would've been better served with real-life examples of businesses who succeeded with this approach, along with some who failed by missing a step or two.
Overall, "The Pumpkin Plan" is a quick, entertaining read that will get a businessperson thinking. The author's premise definitely has merit - it's a shame that the premise is not backed up by a more rigorous book.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
I just read a new book that makes me realize that maybe I want to be a farmer after all! The Pumpkin Plan is another over-the-top book by best-selling author Michael Michalowicz set around the lessons from farmers that grow those gigantic, prize-winning pumpkins. After reading Michael's first book, his insightful Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, when he announced that he was writing a second book called The Pumpkin Plan I was on a mission to get my hands on a copy. I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain an advance copy of the book and devoured it in one sitting.
Once again, Michael has used his wit and business acumen to convey compelling business advice for any entrepreneur who desires to really take their business to the next level. This book is an interesting read for anyone, but it really strikes home for the serious entrepreneur that desires a plan to help focus their business on a few, easy to understand strategies aimed at taking their business to the next level.
Unlike many "business books" today, Michalowicz isn't using the book as a spring board to get you to purchase some great package where he will give you the "secrets" that you need to implement his strategies. This book is packed with the full details of a plan that you can begin to implement even before you finish reading the book. The details are there, along with helpful links to his website where there are additional materials that the reader will find instrumental in implementing his plan.
The entire book is based on the premise that many entrepreneurs end up after years of struggling in their business, almost broken physically and mentally, from the strain of wearing all the "hats" that entrepreneurs find themselves wearing. He describes the typical "one nut guy" (and the ONG's videos on Mike's website are enough to inspire any entrepreneur to action) who has worked for someone all his life, or worse yet, worked for himself, not utilizing the simple strategies laid out in The Pumpkin Plan, only to reach the age where we all hope to retire and enjoy life, only to find out he has spent it all, given it all, and has nothing left to enjoy. The Pumpkin Plan gives the reader a roadmap to avoid this fate.
The Pumpkin Plan is destined to become one of those business classics that every entrepreneur will want to own, to keep on the credenza behind their desk, to continue to review the dog-eared pages, re-read the highlighted sections and margin notes, and turn their business into that gigantic pumpkin that will serve them and their family rather than vice versa! I strongly recommend The Pumpkin Plan to any serious entrepreneur that wants to take control of their business AND their life.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
The Pumpkin Plan is a well written and fun read. The content was extraordinary, reminiscent of Good to Great and Great by Choice (Jim Collins) without all of the empirical mumbo jumbo that can bog a reader down. The author has distilled entrepreneurial skills down to a simple to understand brew. My husband and I have started 5 businesses from scratch, not every one successful. "If only" we had The Pumpkin Plan BEFORE or during some of them, we'd be better off. C'est la vie!
You don't need a degree from Princeton to be an entrepreneur. Many others have gone before us and we have the opportunity to learn from them! Mike Michalowicz has definitely given a simple plan to help us out. Remember, just because it's simple doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. If it was easy, everybody would be able to do it. Learning from Mike can improve your advance toward success.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
If you are responsible in any way for growing a business, I strongly recommend you to read "The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow A Remarkable Business in Any Field," by Mike Michalowicz. I was lucky to be able to read an advance copy, and finished it very quickly. Not only is it full of results driven strategy, it's also irreverent and funny. When was the last time you laughed out loud while reading a business book?
But the real reason that I love this book so much is that it is genuine, from the heart, written with real passion. Mike Michalowicz never talks down to the reader. He never preaches. He tells us his own story, he reveals his own vulnerabilities and describes his own business ups and downs with pure candor. He holds nothing back (that we know of). Mike has a mission, to help entrepreneurs break out of the never ending "sell it, do it, sell it, do it" cycle that has them on a treadmill, unable to move their business forward. The same cycle that he himself experienced, before having his "aha moment," when he realized that pumpkin farmers, the kind that grow gigantic, record breaking pumpkins, hold the secret to entrepreneurial success.
If you're thinking that this sounds a little out there, just a bit strange or unbelievable, you will change your mind once you start reading. The analogy starts with your choice of seed. Only very special seeds can grow a giant pumpkin, and Mike wants you to figure out what your special seed is for your business. Once your seedlings start growing, you have to nurture and water the strong ones, but get rid of the weak ones. Why? Because the weak, struggling, smaller pumpkins will suck the life out of the strong, promising pumpkins! The Pumpkin Plan shows you how to take this analogy and apply it to your business, killing off the weak pumpkins so that you can better nurture the one that will become your record breaking pumpkin.
The Pumpkin Plan is not a theory. It is a proven strategy and a plan. And in a world where everyone seems to rehash and reuse the same techniques and theories, this book shows you new methods, methods that you have probably never heard of or thought of before. Mike tells you how he used this strategy to grow his own businesses. And he gives you the step by step on how you can do it too. He provides many examples of how the plan can be applied in different industries and businesses. If you want the tools to grow a business that is truly extraordinary, that continues to grow and make a profit, that allows you to fulfill your passion and your purpose, you will find them in The Pumpkin Plan. So put down your pitch fork and pick up this book. You won't regret it!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Pumpkin Plan contains a number of guaranteed, sure-fire ways to grow your business, promises author Michalowicz, and he has the endorsements from a number of well-known and semi-well known celebs on the back cover to prove it. Although... none of the endorsements are actually from people who run businesses. They're all from authors who write about how to run businesses, with one exception- Guy Kawasaki, who was Apple's first marketing "evangelist" until he cashed out and became a venture capitalist. So there might be something in this book after all.
Much of what's found here is a rehash of well-known principles, like his "Insider Strategy." What that means for Michalowicz is reaching out to your best customers and asking them what they want. Some might call that market research. Whatever you call it, it's not necessarily the best way to grow a company. Indeed, Apple, the outstanding personal technology company of the era, made its mark by doing exactly the opposite- by building products people didn't know they wanted. Michalowicz also likes crowdsourcing (very big these days) and thinks it's important to nurture your top clients. Wow.
That brings us to the core of the book, Michalowicz's "Pumpkin Plan," which involves pruning your weakest, least profitable clients, the ones who are a lot of trouble and don't give you much return, and nurturing your most profitable ones. This isn't a particularly new idea, and once again it's not always the best way to grow a business, either. If you prune the bottom 20% of your client list every year you may find yourself with a very small client list in a few years. A smart business owner might look at those high-maintence, low profit, customers and ask themselves, how can I help them grow their business and operate more profitably? Or maybe I can operate more efficiently, and serve more of these small customers. Look at EDS, which grew from a one-man operation into a multi-billion dollar one by servicing a market that IBM thought had too small a return to make it profitable.
Michalowicz is obviously a very smart guy, a good businessman, and a sharp salesman. His earlier book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The tell-it-like-it-is guide to cleaning up in business, even if you are at the end of your roll. was a hot seller and also contained a lot of contrary advice and garnered a good deal of fan mail and positive reviews. No doubt some entrepreneurs found useful advice in it, though none of them appear to have written reviews found on Amazon. Thing is, the qualities that make for successful entrepreneurs aren't ones that can be conveyed in a short book. No one ever got to be a billionaire by after reading Warren Buffet's book, after all. A lot of what makes people like Michalowicz is drive, confidence, and ability, and you're not going to get any of that from reading his books. (Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013
Great book. It's already on my "read again" list. You gotta love a business book that quotes George Carlin.
There's nothing like sitting down for a beer with a trusted friend who tells you like it is--no holds barred. That's exactly what Mike Michalowicz does in The Pumpkin Plan. Like a true friend with quick whit and touches of grit Michalowicz drives home the points every business owner needs to hear--from firing clients that are holding your business back, to leading your brand through innovative thinking to rise above marketplace white-noise.
Don't let the title turn you off...I did until I started reading it. Michalowicz uses The Pumpkin Plan as a business analogy to help all us entrepreneurs remember how to grow what he calls a "big, fat and healthy" pumpkin...er, uh...business. I swear he's speaking to me, as if he's been watching my business foibles over the past twenty years. He says what every business owner needs to hear...either for the first time or as a reminded...like don't do it all yourself, focus on what matters, cater to your best clients...plus much more.
Michalowicz touches on some business 101 basics, but rather than just spouting out a bunch of textbook theory he provides tangible ways to apply foundational principles to your business. While there are some easier-said-than-done moments in the book, I found it good being challenged a bit to help me get unstuck in how I approach my business. He also confronts rote business practices...I love it when the status quo is challenged. The end-of-chapter action plans and industry specific mini case studies are great tools for applying what he's preaching.
I'll just say what I've been telling all my entrepreneur friends--Read the book. Apply it. Grow your business. I wish I'd had a book like this in 1999 when I started my own big fat pumpkin (business) from a small seedling.
I could go on and on about the great points Michalowicz makes and his conversational (and sometimes irreverent) way of making them. He had me laughing before I could even get past the dedication page. He'd be a fun guy to have a beer with...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
The writers out there will understand the reference to killing your darlings. We've all had to do it. We spend hours, days sometimes, lovingly crafting the perfect scene, or the perfect line, only to have to delete it in revision. Sometimes we kill it because it is overly purple, sometimes because it just doesn't fit the book anymore no matter how much we try to round the edges - it's still a square peg and we've written a round hole.
The Pumpkin Plan is a blueprint for killing your real world darlings and streamlining your business (or life, as I'll demonstrate.)
Mike Michalowicz takes a "bro" tone, puts his arm around your shoulder, buys you a drink at the bar and dishes the secret to living the good life, the easy way.
As we enter this new year, it's a book well worth taking a look at, here's why.
First - Mike doesn't just tell you what to do, he gives you practical steps for actually doing it. Every chapter ends with a 30 minute action plan - how to put that piece of the plan to work on 30 minutes or less. As a business owner who is always overwhelmed, underwater and trying to catch a break, or at least a breath - being able to take action in under 30 minutes and get that rush of accomplishment is absolutely critical. It builds confidence and lets us know right away that yes, we can do this.
Second - Mike takes the time to give both real world examples of people and businesses who have rocked each step of the plan, as well as craft industry specific examples of the Pumpkin Plan in action to demonstrate not only that the plan can work for any type of business, but also ways that it might work. He flexes his imagination in a way that shows us multiple paths that we could take to grow our own giant pumpkin of a business (or life).
Third - And this is where Mike's book, for me, went from "just another business book" to the business book I'll be recommending to everyone who could use a little boost, nudge or step up in life this year - Mike does the one thing that no one else I've read has been brave enough to do - he gives us a detailed, direct plan for killing your darlings.
Darlings are those customers, clients, people (or in writing - sections of prose) who are sucking your time, energy, brain power, money or other resources and not delivering any return on that investment.
As an entrepreneur from a long line of entrepreneurs this is something I know we all need. Again, in business and in life and in writing. To be successful by any measure we have to get rid of the "drainbows" as my husband calls them. But how? How do we know who to keep and who to cut? And... How do we cut the soul-suckers without burning the bridge completely or pissing them off and having them turn on us? This is the small business owner's dilemma. We know we can't be all things to everyone, but how do we say no to money?
I'm not going to tell you Mike's plan - I'm only going to tell you that I am implementing it actively right now. I started with Facebook - culling that crazy herd. Now I'm going through my client list. His steps not only make sense, they are a validation of everything I believed when I started my business, but started to neglect in the quest to say yes and serve more people. As Mike reminded me - "More isn't better. Better is better." Don't understand? Get the book. And then get started killing your darlings and streamlining success.
Ostensibly a book about growing your business - there is much more to be gained in the Pumpkin Plan than just a successful business and more time and money on your hands.
Disclaimer - Mike gifted me a copy of this book after he read my review of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Because I'm in the middle of a re-branding and re-structuring of my business, I accepted the gift but warned him I'd be brutally honest in my review. So... Here's the brutal piece of the review - While the bro-down tone might work for some, I found it a little overly chummy and grating. I don't know this guy from Adam and I kind of resented him thinking we were pals. However, after a while it kind of clicked - that's just who this guy is. The Pumpkin Plan is written in his voice, and he just happens to be one of those outgoing nice guys who really would buy you a drink at the bar and tell you how you too could be living the good life, because after all, shouldn't everyone be happy?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
A few pages into "The Pumpkin Plan" and I was already laughing. That's what happens when you read or watch anything that Mike Michalowicz does -- you laugh. Sometimes at him (because he's truly a funny guy) and sometimes at yourself.
In an introductory story to his latest book "The Pumpkin Plan", Mike talks about not being "That Guy" -- you know "That Guy" - the one who spends every waking hour and day working in his business and ends up drooly and depressed at the end. That really hit home with me -- and I guess with Mike too. He's devoted his life and career to making sure he -- and YOU don't end up that way. Hence -- the Pumpkin Plan
There are lots of analogies about how to grow a great business; fast cars, toilet paper and now pumpkins. I'm dubious about this. Thank the LORD I didn't have to wait until page 85 to get the connection. Mike gets to it on page 15 (whew). Here is the inspiration for the book - an article in his local paper on how to grow GIGUNDA pumpkins in - are you ready - Seven Steps!
STEP 1: Plant promising seeds
STEP 2: Water, Water, Water
STEP 3: As they grow, routinely remove all of the diseased or damaged pumpkins.
STEP 4: Weed like a mad dog. Not a single green leaf or root permitted if it isn't a pumpkin plant.
STEP 5: When they grow larger, identify the stronger, faster-growing pumpkins. Repeat until you have one pumpkin on each vine.
STEP 6: Focus all your attention on the big pumpkin. Nurture it around the clock like a baby, and guard it like you would your first Mustang convertible.
STEP 7: Watch it grow. In the last days of the season, this will happen so fast you can actually see it happen.
There you have it - the secret to growing a million dollar business in the pumpkin patch. These steps are actually converted to business-speak a page later, but you'll have to read the book to get those.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
Michael Michalowicz remains true to form. His Pumpkin Plan takes conventional business wisdom and turns it on its head, causing readers to re-think their strategy for sales and customer relationship management. Indeed, he uses his agricultural analogy to bring a new meaning to cultivating client relationships! Like his previous book, this novel view of business and how to succeed was refreshing and 100% on point!
In keeping with his writitng style, Michalowicz still uses the language and imagery of a fraternity guy doesn't open up about the psychology and econonmic theory behind his premise. HIs use of anecdotal evidence is compelling but WE WANT MORE in the way of facts and science. Some of us are grown ups and have attention spans greater than the average twentysomething and don't need all the cutesy fart humor.
Mr. Michalowiz, you are clearly possessed of a brilliant business mind and your insights are both valid and valuable. PLEASE package them as the serious business books they really are, appropriate for businesses in the $10-100 miilion range, and not as pop how-to for garage startups!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
Over the years I have read a number of books on business/marketing which tend to be informative yet bore me to sleep. The Pumpkin Plan was not only insightful, it was an entertaining read - no dosing here...really. Mike Michalowicz's writing style is quite creative mixing real stories and strategies with adult humor - got to love it. Entrepreneur? This is a must read - strategies you will want to use! Sales/Marketing? Give a copy of the book to clients struggling to grow their business. The Pumpkin Plan is a keeper - it's a quick, fun, informative read that will be referred back to as my plan progresses.