The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field

The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field

by Mike Michalowicz


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 Each year Americans start one million new businesses, nearly 80 percent of which fail within the first five years. Under such pressure to stay alive—let alone grow—it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of “sell it—do it, sell it—do it” that leaves them exhausted, frustrated, and unable to get ahead no matter how hard they try.

This is the exact situation Mike Michalowicz found himself in when he was trying to grow his first company. Although it was making steady money, there was never very much left over and he was chasing customers left and right, putting in twenty-eight-hour days, eight days a week. The punishing grind never let up. His company was alive but stunted, and he was barely breathing. That’s when he discovered an unlikely source of inspiration—pumpkin farmers.

After reading an article about a local farmer who had dedicated his life to growing giant pump­kins, Michalowicz realized the same process could apply to growing a business. He tested the Pumpkin Plan on his own company and transformed it into a remarkable, multimillion-dollar industry leader. First he did it for himself. Then for others. And now you. So what is the Pumpkin Plan?

  • Plant the right seeds: Don’t waste time doing a bunch of different things just to please your customers. Instead, identify the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it.
  • Weed out the losers: In a pumpkin patch small, rotten pumpkins stunt the growth of the robust, healthy ones. The same is true of customers. Figure out which customers add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth. Then ditch the worst of the worst.
  • Nurture the winners: Once you figure out who your best customers are, blow their minds with care. Discover their unfulfilled needs, innovate to make their wishes come true, and overdeliver on every single promise.

Full of stories of other successful entrepreneurs, The Pumpkin Plan guides you through unconven­tional strategies to help you build a truly profitable blue-ribbon company that is the best in its field.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591844884
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/05/2012
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 98,004
Product dimensions: 6.36(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mike Michalowicz launched and sold two multimillion-dollar companies and currently operates his third, Obsidian Launch, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued. He is the author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and is a small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Visit


Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 A Half-Ton Pumpkin Is About to Save Your Life 7

Chapter 2 A Slow, Miserable Death 25

Chapter 3 The Seed 39

Chapter 4 Assess the Vine 57

Chapter 5 How We Do Things Down on the Farm 81

Chapter 6 The Tourniquet Technique 95

Chapter 7 Play Favorites and Break Rules 111

Chapter 8 The Wish List 131

Chapter 9 Let Them Leab 151

Chapter 10 Big, Pat and Healthy 169

Chapter 11 The Airline Safety Card Method 185

Chapter 12 Kill the Curve 203

Chapter 13 Next Season 213

Chapter 14 How to Pumpkin Plan Your Business-Your Story 219

Acknowledgments 221

Index 223

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Every page, every chapter, as I read this book, I asked myself, ‘Michael E. Gerber, how come YOU didn’t think of that?’ Just remarkable! Just absolutely a remarkable book. A pumpkin! Who would have thought? Every one of you—entrepreneurs, business owners—read it! Do it now!”
—MICHAEL GERBER, author of The E-Myth and creator of The E-Myth Evolution™
“Another great read from Mike Michalowicz! Mike’s off-the-cuff sense of humor and business savvy ensure that The Pumpkin Plan is a book that entrepreneurs should read for years to come.”
—GUY KAWASAKI, author of Enchantment and The Art of the Start
“Hard-hitting advice aimed directly at the entrepreneur who is stuck being a wandering generality instead of a meaningful specific. Plenty of seeds worth planting.”
—SETH GODIN, author of We Are All Weird
“Michalowicz hits it out of the park, yet again. The Pumpkin Plan is chock-full of Mike’s wonderful humor and is an extraordinary step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs whose business growth has plateaued.”
—J. J. RAMBERG, host of MSNBC’s Your Business
“In his crazy-like-a-fox style, Mike Michalowicz reveals why channeling a pumpkin farmer brings you unparalleled success. Michalowicz is rapidly becoming one of the most innovative business authors of our time. The proof is in the pudding (or pumpkin, as it were).”
—RIEVA LESONSKY, CEO of GrowBiz Media, former editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine
“Mike makes turning your business from ordinary to extraordinary as easy as following a simple step-by-step recipe. This book reveals degrees of knowledge and wisdom I have rarely seen in writing before. If you read only one book this year, let it be The Pumpkin Plan.”
—BOB BURG, co-author of The Go-Giver and author of Endless Referrals
“He’s a very handsome young man.” —URSULA MICHALOWICZ, Mike’s mom

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The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ShanImage More than 1 year ago
! I just finished The Pumpkin Plan and it prompted me to re read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur!! I have to say I laughed out loud throughout the book at your humor, but my husband really got a kick out of it!! I already “fired” 6 clients and amazing things have happened!! Two really perfect clients found out that the other clients are gone and they praised my decision by sending me three more “perfect” clients! I have started to “interview” my clients about my industry and have received amazing info to further “Pumpkin Plan” my business! Rarely do I read a book that helps clarify building a business like this. I had so many “AHA” moments it was amazing. The lawyer example really stayed with me! If you are an Entrepreneur you must read this book!!
hayesl5 More than 1 year ago
I made notes while reading because each as I turned each page, new ideas kepting leaping off the pages at me. the stories, examples and strategies were very relatable. Mike Michalowicz's writing style is friendly and casual. He speaks to the reader more like he is sharing a disucssion and trade of ideas over a drink - versus speaking at you in a classroom. And as much as the book discusses serious business strategies and tactics...I laughed out load. Very memorable delivery. This should be a college textbook or a TV series!
KnotheadNed More than 1 year ago
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.
JackieNees More than 1 year ago
It's time to get off the hamster wheel and stop letting your business run you. Mike Michalowicz has discovered a way to not only help you do that but to take your business to heights you only thought Fortune 500 corporations were capable of. By using simple, easy to follow strategies echoing those of champion pumpkin growers, a wildly successful business is within your reach. The book not only teaches you how to grow a successful business, but how to structure it so that you can still have a life and actually enjoy the fruits of your labor. The action steps are simple and you'll see results right away. Don't keep struggling with your business and running yourself ragged trying to make a living. Make a life instead. The Pumpkin Plan will help you do just that. Read it in a weekend and reap the benefits for a lifetime.
Kim5 More than 1 year ago
A “Gigantor Pumpkin” has everything to do with your business. A friend recommended Mike’s first book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur to me about a year ago. It was just what I needed to get off my butt and follow a dream. When I got an advanced copy of The Pumpkin Plan, I was worried it wouldn’t apply to me, as I thought the advice was geared toward established business owners. I am so happy I read this book while my business was in its infancy! It has provided me with awesome insight and strategies that has moved my business in the right direction. And when my business grows, I will return to it, because it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, this book will encourage you with practical advice and usable strategies to scale your business into your dream. Mike Michalowicz provides a steady stream of entrepreneur stories, from itsy bitsy businesses to gigantic industries, explaining how to use the Pumpkin Plan formula in practical applications. It includes stories from the Travel Industry, Online Sales, Construction, Finance, Rock Bands, Manufacturing, Health Services, Hospitality and more. And, this business book does not bore you with the business school theory that will put you to sleep. It is so much fun to read, it definitely makes the cut for the summer reading list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ThinkBannedThoughts More than 1 year ago
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. The Pumpkin Plan is a blueprint for killing your real world darlings and streamlining your business. 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. 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 our darlings. Darlings are those customers, clients, people who are sucking your time, energy, brain power, money or other resources and not delivering a return on that investment. As an entrepreneur from a long line of entrepreneurs this is something I know we all need. 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? How do we cut the soul-suckers without burning the bridge completely 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? 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. 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." 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. I accepted the gift but warned him I'd be brutally honest in my review. Here's the brutal bit - While the bro tone might work for some, I found it overly chummy and grating. I don't know this guy from Adam and I resented him thinking we were pals. However, after a while it clicked - that's who this guy is. The Pumpkin Plan is written in his voice, and he is one of those nice guys who really would buy you a drink at the bar and tell you how o live the good life. After all, shouldn't everyone be happy?
SpunkyGirl More than 1 year ago
This is a great guide for the small business owner.  I've been in business for over a decade, and I've had the struggles the author describes in the book - being on the treadmill, waiting for that "one big client" etc. This book was an easy and entertaining read, and gives great suggestions on how to increase your profit while cutting the fat!  
threedot More than 1 year ago
This is the first business book that I felt had actual, usable information. The concepts in the book are clear and easy to understand, but are more than simplistic platitudes. These are actionable (is that a word?) items that will grow your business when implemented, no doubt in my mind. I was fortunate enough to be given an advance copy of The Pumpkin Plan, and I absolutely devoured it, I couldn't put it down. The information in the book resonated with me more than any other business book I've read, and I've read a lot of them. While many business books are full of high level, "pie in the sky" ideals, this one has concrete steps you can take to become much more efficient and effective in your business, no matter what it may be. The only possible down side I see (for some, not all) is the use of some, shall we say "colorful" language and some four letter words. I accepted this as part of Mike's style and moved on, but it could be off-putting for some readers. Please note, this is not a get rich quick scheme, nor is it a list of effortless secrets to make crazy money with no time investment. If you are looking for a book that will tell you how to make a million bucks working 5 minutes a week, this isn't it. There is work involved, you will be pushed to make some tough and uncomfortable choices, and if you don't want to do that, skip this one and go read one of the many "business fairy tales" that are out there waiting for you to open your wallet. This book is about hard work, but it teaches you to focus your efforts to effectively grow your business, and get away from spending too much time for too little return. Get it, read it, and you won't regret it...