Are You My Pumpkin?
As part of my mastermind group, we just finished reading The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. During the first couple of chapters, I was thinking, "Yeah, yeah. I already know all of this."
By the time I finished, I had changed my business.
I highly recommend reading it (and I've heard the audio version is good), but the analogy is this: he interviewed people who grow those ginormous pumpkins, found out their method, and then applied it to business. Here's a summary:
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.
The message is actually pretty simple, but if you pay attention, it can completely change your business plan: put all of your energy into growing and cultivating your big "pumpkins" (best clients) and let go of the rest. And here's the thing - your "pumpkins" aren't necessarily your most lucrative clients. They're the ones you enjoy working with and who are the smallest pain in the rear.
This book came at the perfect time for me. I had just billed one of my largest months ever...and I was completely burned out. I realized that I had hit a plateau; there was no way for me to make more money because of the demand on my time unless I made some changes.
Within days, I had hired a new consultant (meet Madalyn!) and crafted a plan to create a new package for my business that would allow the business to serve clients who aren't necessarily looking for custom consulting...which would then free up my time to work with my pumpkins.
I was so excited about these changes that, during a meeting with one of my pumpkins (clients), I actually called her my pumpkin. I caught her look of alarm and assured her that our relationship had not been taken to a new level and then explained what I'd learned from this book.
This conversation then turned to who her pumpkins are which then morphed into one of the greatest brainstorming sessions I've ever had with a client. By the end of it, we had come up with simple ways of making her services memorable and referrable (I'm inventing that word).
The thing about this is, you KNOW who your pumpkins are. This is just about creating a business that grows using the people you love to work with. Therefore, you love your business.
Who are your pumpkins?