When entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz tells you to act more like a pumpkin farmer, he doesn’t mean for you to don a pair of overalls. Instead, The Pumpkin Plan lays out a strategy that helps you find your niche and increase revenue.
In his Vocus webinar this week, Mike told us that two types of businesses exist: those which focus on growing as many pumpkins as they can, and those that nurture only the biggest pumpkins. The goal, Mike says, should be to run your business with the aim of growing colossal pumpkins.
Here are five tips we learned from Mike on growing your business to blue-ribbon, state-fair-champion size:
Clone your best clients
Just as farmers try to produce a colossal pumpkin by taking seeds from its biggest ones, you should focus on cloning your best clients. Take your best client out to lunch and pick their brain. Find out what industry magazines they read and use your expertise to become a contributor for that publication. Discover what conferences they and others in the industry go to and plan on attending. Eventually, the exposure will increase your number of “best” clients.
Create a sustained presence
When ordinary pumpkin farmers water their crops, they saturate the ground and incidentally drown some plants. A better method involves frequently pouring the precise amount of water.
Mike recalls trying the saturation method in areas he hoped to grow his business. He “hit it hard for a short period of time” before giving up and trying another area. He realizes the intensity of this method scared potential clients. Once Mike learned to develop relationships with consistent interactions, he gained more customers in his desired areas.
Make relationships with other vendors
Don’t expect many leads when asking a satisfied customer for a referral, Mike says.
Customers fear that more work will make you less attentive to their needs, so they have little incentive to help you.
Instead, ask customers what other vendors they work with. Contact those vendors and ask to combine forces to better serve the customer. Establishing a relationship with other vendors gives you a valuable contact. Mike recalls how a vendor he worked with referred him to several new ideal clients.
Reduce your opportunities
That’s not a typo. Mike says that focusing on every little client is too cumbersome. Farmers who aim to grow the biggest pumpkins get rid of the smallest pumpkins on the vine so that all the resources go to the biggest.
Delete your weakest clients and focus on serving and cloning your best clients, Mike says. When determining whether to add a client ask yourself three questions:
- Does this opportunity further promote my uniqueness?
- Does this opportunity better serve my top clients?
- Will this opportunity generate more profit or at least sustain it?
A colossal entrepreneur will turn down an opportunity if he answers no to any of those questions.
“The more systematized businesses are the more profit they see in the bottom line,” Mike says.
Take the risk
After giving the above advice, Mike says he hears the same comment almost every time, “It sounds way too risky.” His response? “I can guarantee the ordinary pumpkin farmer will never, never grow a colossal pumpkin.”
Mike asks what business hasn’t made an all-in bet at some point? He admits that failure is possible, but it’s not the fault of the process. Sometimes outside elements conspire against you, but entrepreneurs can once again take a lesson from pumpkin farmers.
“They simply say ‘it wasn’t my season’ and start the exact same process again the next season,” Mike says.
Image: Aresauburnphotos (Creative Commons)